Ukrainian news reporter detained by Russia’s FSB
The whereabouts of Victoria Roschina, who works for independent news channel hromadske, is unknown after her detention
18 Mar 22

Victoria Roschina (or Roshchina), a journalist who works for the Ukrainian news channel we wrote about earlier this week, has gone missing while reporting on the war in the country and is believed to have been detained by Russian FSB security forces.

On 11 March, according to hromadske, Roschina left the city of Energodar to travel to Mariupol to report on what was really going on in the city, which has been shelled by Russian troops every day for more than two weeks.

The TV station has been unable to contact Roschina since 12 March when she is known to have been in the occupied city of Berdyansk.

On 16 March, the station learned that Roschina had been detained by the Russian FSB but nothing is known about her whereabouts.

“For two days we made every effort to release the journalist in a private manner. But it turned out to be ineffective. Therefore, we call on the Ukrainian and international community to join in the information and action to the release of hromadske journalist Victoria Roschina,” the channel said in a statement.

The channel (whose name means public) was founded originally as an independent TV station and prides itself on its freedom from control by oligarchs or the state even after Yanukovych was forced to flee by the “Maidan” protests of 2014. Over the years journalists at the station have adapted to shifts in the media landscape and now streams topical videos on YouTube and Facebook with special reports every Tuesday and Thursday.

In a Facebook post published before she disappeared, Roschina said she would “never forgive Russia”.

She wrote: “The other day I came across a column of Russian tanks in the Zaporozhzhya region. On the way there I saw a burnt car, a little further another with the burnt body of a man next to it. As it turned out, he was a civilian from the village.

“Then – the roar of tanks, the white letter Z, the flag of the Russian Federation. They came out of the turn and headed in our direction.

“Me and the driver switched to reverse gear and tried to turn around. The Russians began to ‘work’ [e.g. shoot] us actively. First bullets, and then red-hot shells. Fortunately, they flew by. I commanded the driver to stop, drop the car and lie down in the field. But the columns came in our direction and an abandoned house came to our rescue, behind [which we] waited for the Russian military hardware to pass by.

“Then we were saved by good people. While we were hiding, our car was opened although it had a PRESS sticker. They took away my laptop, camera, backpack…and the driver’s cigarettes.

“No connection, no light. Tanks on both sides of the village. We are surrounded and unable to pass on information. The scariest thing under occupation is night. Dawn still inspires hope for the best. In our case it did not start with shelling or [hiding in] the basement. Around 150 units of Russian hardware moved towards our peaceful villages. I went on reconnaissance on foot. Due to the stress, I felt neither tired, nor cold, nor afraid.

“I went to the regions to cover what is going on there and what people think. People who have been living without communication all this time, at the gunpoint of machine guns, [threatened by] MLRS Grad [rockets] and the rumble of Russian tanks.

“In small villages and towns, the occupiers feel that they’re ‘heroes’ [but they] shoot civilians, set cars on fire, kill, loot. They turn people’s lives into hell, traumatise the children. They took away my gear, but won’t take away the desire to tell the truth about their crimes.

“This time I was probably saved by a miracle once again.

“But I will never forgive Russia. Never. They will burn in hell. And they will definitely stand trial.”

Roschina is just one of a number of journalists and activists that have been detained in occupied areas of Ukraine according to our sources.

Index CEO Ruth Smeeth said, “Index on Censorship has always supported independent journalism throughout the world and the detention of reporters trying to report the facts can never be justified. Index on Censorship calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Victoria Roschina and other journalists held by the Russian forces.”

By Mark Stimpson

Mark is associate editor at Index on Censorship