war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Similar articles

Kherson journalist kidnapped by Russian invaders after reporting their violent suppression of a peaceful protest Famous Ukrainian photojournalist Maksym Levin killed in Russia's war against Ukraine Russia abducts, tortures and ‘sentences’ disabled Ukrainian to 16 years on legally absurd charges Ukrainian priest abducted and tortured to death in Russian-occupied Kherson oblast Russia has turned Crimea into a huge prison for political prisoners and hostages from Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblastsRussia tortures nine Ukrainians from Kherson for grotesque ‘international terrorism trial’ Kherson IT specialist abducted, tortured and sentenced in Russian-occupied Ukraine to 11 years for trying to get his family to safety Russia uses fake ‘court’ in occupied Kherson oblast for lawless ‘trial’ of Crimean Tatar ‘Playing Russian roulette’ — a village head in the Kherson region captured by the occupiersIllegal Russian occupation ‘court’ sentences Ukrainian veteran to 13 years on grotesque ‘spying’ charges Russia claims defending Ukraine is ‘international terrorism’ and sentences abducted Kherson man to 12 yearsRussian invaders torture former Ukrainian defender to death in occupied Kherson oblast Ukrainian academic abducted from occupied Kherson, tortured and sentenced to 12 years in Russia on nonsensical ‘spying’ charges Russia opens third prison in occupied Crimea to hold political prisoners and civilian hostages abducted from mainland UkraineRussia forced to close school in occupied Kherson oblast for lack of teachers willing to collaborate Abducted and tortured Ukrainian writer and journalist Serhiy Tsyhipa sentenced to 13 years on surreal charges Death toll at 52 after Russia bombs Kharkiv village funeral wake and a hospital in Kherson oblastRussia passes insane sentences for ‘spying for Ukraine’ against Ukrainians it abducted from occupied Kherson and tortured ‘I want to enjoy life in my native Kherson’Russia abducts, tortures and imprisons Crimean Tatar from Kherson oblast, then tries to make him ‘Russian’

Outspoken Kherson journalist Kostiantyn Ryzhenko disappears while Russia terrorizes his family

Halya Coynash

Kostiantyn Ryzhenko Photo from his Facebook page

There has been no contact with Kherson journalist and Chief Editor of Kherson NewsCity, Kostiantyn Ryzhenko since 30 March and there is every reason to believe he is in danger because of his courage in reporting Kherson resistance to the Russian invasion. It is unclear whether he has been seized by Russian soldiers,  or is in hiding because the latter were actively looking for him. Armed Russians have since also turned up at his family’s home and taken his 25-year-old brother Zakhar away.

The news that Ryzhenko was missing effectively came from the journalist and civic activist himself. He had left a message on his Telegram page which begins with the words: “Hi, if you’re reading this text, it means that something has happened.”  This is a scheduled text which he keeps postponing, and the fact that he has been unable to do so is a sign of trouble.  His message stresses that the lack of contact does not  necessarily mean that he has been seized.  He could have lost contact, or have destroyed his phone so that it did not get into the hands of the enemy. He adds that he has ensured that the latter, i.e. the Russian invaders, will not be able to learn about his contacts and correspondence as he has secured his accounts against such attempts.  The rest of his message assures people that the voluntary organization providing food, medicines, etc. will continue their work.

Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists has spoken with Konstiantyn’s father, Oleksandr Ryzhenko about the Russians’ armed raid.  He explained that the Russians were looking for Kostiantyn because of his journalist work and that two or three carloads of men with machine guns had appeared at their home on 31 March.  They had searched the flat and taken Zakhar’s telephones and other technology away.  They had freed Oleksandr “on condition that I got in touch with my son, Kostiantyn.  They warned that the first visit would be restrained, but that the next time the military would speak roughly.”   

It seems that the invaders objected to Zakhar’s use of the Signal encrypted messenger and decided to take him away “to get to the bottom of it”.  That, however, was on Thursday, and a day later there is nothing to suggest that Zakhar has been released.

The Russians claimed that many people had died because of Ryzhenko.  They effectively confirmed that this assertion was linked with his journalism by asking whether he had published his material for money, or because of “nationalist views”. Very tellingly, they added that they would swiftly find a common language with him if his materials had been “for money”. 

Ryzhenko’s friend Serhiy Chernyavsky has told the Committee to Protect Journalists that Ryzhenko had probably been targeted because he had streamed and recorded the daily demonstrations by Kherson residents against the Russian invaders. “He was also cited as a source on the situation in Kherson by news outlets including the BBC and the Latvia-based outlet Meduza.”  

Since the only bloodshed has been when the Russians opened fire and injured peaceful demonstrators, it is certainly strange to accuse Ryzhenko of having blood on his hands.  It seems much more likely that Moscow is aggrieved that all the courageous anti-Russian demonstrations are contradicting the Kremlin’s narrative and thwarting the attempts to stage yet another pseudo referendum and fake ‘Kherson people’s republic’.

Ryzhenko is one of three journalists who have disappeared since the beginning of Russia’s invasion. Well-known photojournalist Max Levin was last seen working in parts of the Kyiv oblast that were under Russian attack on 13 March.  Zaporizhzhia journalist Iryna Dubchenko is known to have been seized by the invaders who said that they were taking her “for trial” to occupied Donetsk (details here).  According to the Head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration, Oleksandr Starukh, a centre has been created to secure the release, through an exchange of prisoners, of Dubchenko, as well as the other journalists; city mayors and civic activists whom the Russians are believed (or known) to be holding.  Starukh stressed that it is vital that everybody knows about such forced disappearances since that can protects each victim’s life.

 Share this