Journalist Dmytro Khilyuk was abducted by Russian forces in Ukraine in early March 2022 and has reportedly been held in a Russian pretrial detention ever since.
Russian soldiers detained Khilyuk in the village of Kozarovychi, north of Kyiv, in early March, according to the Media Initiative for Human Rights, a local press group, and a relative of the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
On March 1, 2022, Khilyuk, a reporter for the independent Ukrainian news agency UNIAN, had written that Russian troops were occupying his village in a post on his personal Facebook page, where he frequently posts commentary on current events and has about 450 followers.
Khilyuk’s relative, who asked that her name not be published to protect her privacy, told CPJ that the journalist called her on March 3 and said Russian soldiers had searched the home he shared with his parents, seized their phones and SIM cards, and looked at his posts on social media.
After the search, Khilyuk’s home was hit by a Russian missile, forcing him and his parents to spend the night with their neighbors, according to the journalist’s relative and the Media Initiative for Human Rights.
The relative told CPJ that she lost contact with Khilyuk after March 3, and local residents in Kozarovychi told her that the journalist and his father were detained at a Russian base near their home on about March 4. CPJ was not able to determine the exact date that Khilyuk was detained.
Russian forces accused Khilyuk, who covers the Ukrainian legal system and high-profile court cases, of communicating with the Ukrainian military and law enforcement agencies, according to the Media Initiative for Human Rights.
Russian authorities released Khilyuk’s father on March 10 and took the remaining detainees, including Khilyuk, to the nearby town of Dymer, according to the journalist’s relative and the Media Initiative for Human Rights, which reported that other captives who were later released recognized Khilyuk among those being held in an office building in Dymer.
On May 22, the journalist’s relative told CPJ that she had official confirmation that Khilyuk had been detained by Russian forces, but did not give further details.
On September 3, the relative told CPJ that she had received a letter from Khilyuk. “It’s a couple of words, but it’s something. We are very much waiting and hoping for an exchange,” she said.
On September 12, independent Ukrainian television station Hromadske reported that Khilyuk was detained in a pretrial detention center in the Russian western city of Bryansk.
In a video report published by Ukrainian news channel ICTV published on October 11, Khilyuk’s relatives are seen saying that they do not have any information about the journalist’s whereabouts.
In October 2022, CPJ called the Russian Ministry of Interior, but nobody answered the phone. CPJ emailed the press service of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office but did not receive any replies. CPJ called the Pretrial Detention Center No. 1 in Bryansk, but nobody answered the phone.