On April 6, 2022, Roman Nezhyborets, a video technician at television broadcaster Dytynets in the city of Chernihiv, was found dead by Ukrainian volunteers in the northern Ukrainian village of Yahidne, according to Dytynets, a Facebook post by Nezhyborets’ sister Yulya Tsymbal, and Dytynets director Tatyana Zdor, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Russian soldiers occupied Yahidne on March 5, forced residents into underground shelters, and confiscated their cellphones, according to Zdor.
Nezhyborets, who was sheltering with his family in Yahidne, attempted to use a hidden phone to hide evidence of his work with Dytynets, and called his mother to ask that she notify his friends and colleagues that he should be removed from group chats, including one for Dytynets workers, Zdor said. She told CPJ that Russian forces caught Nezhyborets calling his mother on March 5, and took him away from his family.
On April 6, after Russian forces withdrew from Yahidne, Ukrainian volunteers found Nezhyborets’ body in a grave in Yahidne, with gunshot wounds to his knees and his hands tied, according to Zdor. In a statement, Dytynets said the journalist was killed by “Russian occupiers.”
Zdor told CPJ that Nezhyborets left Chernihiv for Yahidne with his family on February 24, and that the journalist’s family believed he was killed sometime between March 5 and March 9.
Zdor told CPJ that Nezhyborets worked as a video editor for Dytynets until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when it became virtually impossible to work due to heavy Russian shelling. Dytynets is a privately owned TV broadcaster that has covered the Russian invasion.
CPJ emailed the Chernihiv regional government and the Russian Ministry of Defense but did not receive any replies.