In early April 2022, freelance journalist Zoreslav Zamoysky was found dead by local residents on a street in Bucha, a city near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, according to statements by the Ukrainian National Union of Journalists (NUJU) and the Irpin city council. Those sources did not state the exact date his body was found and said it appeared to be a “violent” death.
“I was in touch with him from the beginning of the occupation until the last moment, when the communication broke [on March 5],” Yulia Solovyova, the former head of the department of information policy and public relations of the municipality of Hostomel, in Kyiv region, told CPJ in a phone interview.
Zamoysky was documenting “hour by hour” everything that happened between February 28 and March 5, including when Russian troops arrived in Bucha, Solovyova said. He began writing what he called “chronicles of the war” on February 28, she told CPJ. He published some of them on his personal Facebook page, where he had about 1,000 followers, and a few others were found on his computer, Solovyova said, adding that he wanted to write a book. His last post on Facebook was published on March 4, 2022.
“He lived under occupation not long, so there is not much [of these chronicles of war]. But it was particularly interesting, he wrote about what was happening in Bucha under occupation. He was living in Bucha, on the street where the main military actions happened, where the Russian tanks passed”.
Zamoysky was killed between March 5 and March 15, according to experts who examined the body, Solovyova said. “I went to identify the body. It was awful. He could never hurt a fly. There were cuts on his body, it was scarred…I will remember this image for the rest of my life”.
In December 2022, Zamoysky’s former colleague Valentin Sobchuk alleged that Russian soldiers might have killed Zamoysky after seeing “evidence of the war” on Zamoysky’s phone. Solovyova told CPJ that Zamoysky’s phone was not found next to his body, and that the investigation into his death was still ongoing.
Solovyova said that Zamoysky worked at the Hostomel municipality as a journalist during the whole year of 2021. “He was good, intelligent, knew how to write.… He covered trials, wrote reports for us,” she told CPJ.
Before 2021, he was working as a freelancer in Irpin region and wrote reports for online websites and local newspapers, she said. In the beginning of 2022, he was working as a journalist in Hostomel, Solovyova told CPJ.
Iryna Fedorov, founder of the news website Hromada Priirpinnya, told the NUJU that Zamoysky had previously covered the activities of local authorities in the region around Bucha and the city of Irpin as a freelancer for his outlet and other local media groups. The NUJU statement said that Zamoysky also worked as an activist but did not describe the nature of his activism.
“He was an activist in the sense that he attended various events, sessions. But he was always describing himself as a journalist. He was first and foremost a journalist with a strong civic stance,” Solovyova told CPJ.
Russian forces occupied Bucha from February 27 to March 31, according to reports. On April 12, the head of the Kyiv regional military administration, Oleksandr Pavlyuk, announced that Russian forces killed more than 400 civilians during their occupation of the city.
CPJ emailed the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Kyiv Regional State Administration, and the Irpin city council for comment but did not receive any replies.