European Federation of Journalists

Russia: Detained Ukrainian journalist Viktoria Roshchyna must be released 

Credits: NUJU by the family of Viktoria Roshchyna

Russia’s Ministry of Defence confirmed, on 27 May 2024, that it has detained Ukrainian investigative journalist Viktoria Roshchyna. She had been reported missing while reporting in the Russian-occupied territory in August last year. Along with their affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), the International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) condemn the arrest of Roshchyna and urge the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release her.

According to a letter dated 17 April 2024 received by Roshchyna’s father from the Russian military police, the Ukrainian investigative journalist is currently being detained in Russia. Her father shared the letter with the NUJU and contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which confirmed that she had been detained but said they had not been able to contact her. 

As reported by local media, Roshchyna left Ukraine for Poland on 27 July 2023 and later planned to travel to eastern Ukraine through Russia before she disappeared on 3 August. In the last communication from her, she said that she had been going through border checks for several days, but did not say where she was. 

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Roshchyna has carried out extensive reporting on the conflict in multiple Ukrainian media outlets, including broadcaster Hromadske, the online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

In April 2024, the IFJ recorded four journalists injured by Russian drone attacks in the Ukrainian regions of Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia, with some of them seriously injured and taken to hospital. In January 2024, BBC Russia reported that thousands of Ukrainian civilians (including journalists) in Russian custody were being held without charge, trial, or access to legal counsel.

The NUJU demanded that the Russian authorities immediately release Roshchyna and other illegally arrested journalists. “Unfortunately, we do not know the details of Viktoria’s whereabouts. She is deprived of any opportunities for legal protection or communication with others. But the fact that Russia has officially recognised its responsibility for the fate of Ukrainian journalist Viktoriya Roshchyna gives us hope that she will be released,” said the President of the NUJU, Sergiy Tomilenko, to the IFJ and EFJ.

The IFJ and EFJ expressed their deep concern about the lack of press freedom and lack of protection of journalists in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian war zones. “We stand in full solidarity with Viktoriya Roshchyna and with all journalists who are under relentless pressure from the Kremlin,” said the IFJ-EFJ. ”We demand their unconditional release.”