Ukrainian journalists Heorhiy Levchenko (left) and Anastasiya Glukhovska, have been held incommunicado by Russian forces since August 2023. (Screenshot, left: Rossiya 1; Photo, right: Courtesy of Anastasiya Glukhovska's family)

Ukrainian journalists Heorhiy Levchenko, Anastasiya Glukhovska missing since Russia detention

New York, April 17, 2024—Russian authorities must confirm the whereabouts of Ukrainian journalists Heorhiy Levchenko and Anastasiya Glukhovska, and drop all charges against them, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Wednesday.

Levchenko’s and Glukhovska’s detention was not made public until late October 2023, when Vesti Nedeli, a program of Russian state-owned TV channel Rossiya 1, and Russian defense ministry-affiliated TV channel Zvezda, showed videos of their arrests. Glukhovksa’s relatives did not give CPJ permission to publish her story until April 17, 2024.

On August 20, 2023, officers with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in the southeast region of Zaporizhzhia detained Levchenko, according to local news website RIA-Melitopol—which covers news in Melitopol, a city in Zaporizhzhia that has been under Russian control since March 2022—and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), a local advocacy and trade group. Glukhovska was detained on the same day by individuals in military garb and balaclavas, according to the Zvezda video and Glukhovska’s sister, Diana, who spoke to CPJ.

The current location of the journalists is unknown.

“Journalists Heorhiy Levchenko and Anastasiya Glukhovska have been held incommunicado by Russian occupying forces in Ukraine for almost eight months, simply for being journalists,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Russian authorities must immediately release them, drop all charges against them, and stop their illegal prosecution of Ukrainian nationals in occupied territories.”

Melitopol journalist Svitlana Zalizetska told CPJ that Levchenko, the administrator of the Telegram channel associated with RIA-Melitopol, was suspected of terrorism, under Article 205, Part 2 of the Russian criminal code. “They’re making a terrorist out of a journalist,” said Zalizetska. If found guilty under this charge, Levchenko faces up to 20 years in jail.

In the Zvezda video showing Glukhovska’s detention, individuals in military garb and balaclavas   are seen searching her apartment, looking at her laptop, handcuffing her, taking her out of the house, and putting her in a car.

Glukhovska’s name is not featured in the video and there is no information about the charges she faces and the reason for her detention, Diana told CPJ.  “There is no official statement that she was kidnapped, only the video,” she said.

“From the first day and until today, we sent requests to everyone, but we did not receive any answers,” Diana told CPJ, adding that the family had reached out to the FSB and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “She is considered as a missing person.”  

Glukhovska was working as a reporter with RIA-Melitopol before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, her sister Diana told CPJ. As soon as the occupation started, Glukhovska resigned, as she understood “from the very beginning” the risks her work entailed, Diana said.

CPJ’s email to the FSB requesting comment on both detentions received no response.

Multiple Ukrainian journalists have been detained in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine. The whereabouts of former journalist Iryna Levchenko, missing since early May 2023, and of journalists Dmytro Khilyuk, detained in early March 2022, and Viktoria Roshchina, detained in early August 2023, are still unknown. Russia was the world’s fourth-worst jailer of journalists in CPJ’s 2023 prison census, with at least 22 journalists behind bars as of December 1. Glukhovska and Levchenko were not included in the census due to the lack of publicly available information on their detention at the time, and due to a request by Glukhovska’s family not to publish her story.

Editor’s note: This alert has been updated to correct the spelling of the names of Anastasiya Glukhovska and her sister Diana and to note the advocacy work by the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.