Yevhenii Bal, a 78-year-old writer and journalist, died on April 2, 2022, after three days of severe beatings by Russian forces, according to media reports, a statement by the Ukrainian National Union of Journalists (NUJU) and Bal’s friend Pavlo Kusch, who communicated with CPJ via messaging app and who announced Bal’s death on April 8 in a Facebook post.
According to those sources, Russian forces broke into Bal’s house in Melekine, a village in the southeastern Mariupol Raion, on March 18 and found a picture of Bal with Ukrainian Marines, Bal’s membership card with the Ukrainian National Union of Writers, and other “evidence of fascism.”
Russian forces took Bal to Manhush, a Russian-occupied city to the west of Mariupol, and beat him in a basement over the course of three days, according to Kusch. They released Bal on March 21, saying that they “do not fight veterans of the Soviet Navy,” according to Kusch, who talked to Bal the day after his release. Bal told Kusch that he had serious injuries but would get better.
Bal’s daughter Natalia told Kusch that her father had bruises on his face and all over his body and there was evidence that the Russian forces had beaten him with a gunstock. Bal was unable to get up for almost two weeks after his release, his daughter told Kusch.
He died on April 2 “as the result of the torture to which he had been subjected,” according to the NUJU statement. After his death, the doctor who examined his body confirmed to his daughter that he died from his injuries, Bal’s daughter Natalia told local news website 0629.com.ua.
Bal, a member of the NUJU and the Ukrainian National Union of Writers, wrote essays on the war in Donbas and collaborated with Uryadovy Courier, a newspaper published by Ukraine’s executive branch, Kusch told CPJ.
He was a captain 1st rank in the Ukrainian Army, a captain 2nd rank in the Soviet Army, and served on submarines in the Northern and Pacific fleets for over 30 years, according to Kusch.
The NUJU alleged that Bal’s death demonstrates “that Russia is purposefully persecuting Ukrainian journalists in the territories temporarily occupied by Russia.”
CPJ emailed the Russian Ministry of Defense but did not receive any reply.