Several accounts have begun to emerge from Ukraine, painting a shocking picture of suppression of the free press-in some cases, the deliberate targeting of journalists by Russian troops. The most recent incident occurred yesterday in Rozivka, where Russian military forces arrested Iryna Dubchenko on suspicion of harboring wounded Ukrainian soldiers at her home. She was then sent to Donetsk for further interrogation. Dubchenko works at many newspapers in the east of Ukraine, where she is presently residing. Per a local Ukrainian journalist, she was reportedly caring for her grandmother in the weeks leading up to her arrest. Her condition remains unclear, and there is no indication that Dubchenko has been moved from Donetsk.
Dubchenko’s arrest comes on the heels of the kidnapping a handful of other journalists in Ukraine. Oleh Baturin, who works at a regional newspaper in Kherson, was abducted by Russian forces on March 12 and held for over a week. During that time, he endured physical assault and psychological torture. Svetlana Zalizetskaya has alleged that Russian troops have taken her aging father hostage, promising his release on the condition of her turning herself over to the Russian Army. Their stories are, unfortunately, not a rare occurrence.
Ukrainian journalism and independent media are clearly under a relentless assault by Russian military forces. Dubchenko and Baturin share a common experience with two dozen other journalists, correspondents, and photographers. Similarly, western journalists have been targeted and killed while covering the war on the front lines. According to a report which appeared yesterday in The Guardian, Pierre Zakrzewski and Oleksandra Kuvshynova were killed in early March when they came under small firearms outside the capital of Kyiv. Zakrzewski was 55, and Kuvshynova was 24. Brent Renaud was shot and killed by Russian troops on March 13. CBS News reports that Renaud, a filmmaker and journalist associated with the New York Times, was fired upon by Russian forces in Irpin while at a check point. Juan Arredondo, another photo journalist, was injured in the attack. According to Reporters Without Borders (RwB), a French advocacy group based in Paris, they are just another of the dozens who have been attacked since the start of the invasion. RwB similarly alleges that at least five journalists have been killed in the first month of fighting. For many journalists, reporting the truth has become a life or death choice in Ukraine.
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