Russia: enforced disappearance of Ukrainian WHRD and journalist Victoria Roshchyna (joint communication)

The following is based on a communication written by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and other UN experts to the Government of Russia on 27 December 2023. The communication remained confidential for 60 days before being made public, giving the Government time to reply. Regrettably, the Government did not reply within this timeframe. If a reply is received, it will be posted on the UN Special Procedures communications database.

At the time of writing, the fate and whereabouts of Victoria Roshchyna are still unknown.

This is a shorter version of the original communication.

Read the full communication


Topic: the enforced disappearance of the Ukrainian woman human rights defender and journalist Victoria Roshchyna

Ms. Victoria Roshchyna works to promote the rights to a fair trial and freedom of assembly, and also reports on the persecution of activists and public figures. She is a freelance journalist based in Kyiv whose work has appeared in Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe (Ukrainian service), and Ukrainska Pravda.

Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, Ms. Roshchyna has turned to collecting evidence of war crimes and documenting human rights violations, including in the Russian-occupied territories.


On 25 July 2023 Ms. Roshchyna informed family members that she planned to travel to the Russian-occupied territories in southern Ukraine in order to gather information on the impact of the war on the civilian population there. She reportedly told her father that she would travel through Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Russia in order to reach occupied south-eastern Ukraine.

On 3 August 2023, Ms. Roshchyna made a phone call to her sister but did not say where exactly she was, other than that she had passed through border checks. It is unclear what border checks she was referring to. This phone call was the last contact her family had with her.

On 12 August 2023, Ms. Roshchyna’s family reported her missing to the Ukrainian authorities. On 20 September 2023, they filed a missing person’s report with the State-run “Ukrainian National peace-building center”, a national institution gathering information and documenting violations of international law in accordance with the Geneva Conventions for the Protection of War Victims. Additionally, on 9 October 2023, a missing person report was filed with the National Police of Ukraine, by the editor-in-chef of the media outlet “Ukrainska Pravda”. On 17 October 2023, the police started the investigation under article 438 of Criminal Code of Ukraine (violation of the laws and customs of war).

Ms. Roshchyna’s family were reportedly subsequently informed by the Ukrainian National peace-building Centre that she had been detained by the Russian authorities. The Russian authorities have never formally acknowledged her detention, nor have they provided any information concerning her whereabouts.

Previously, in March 2022 Ms. Roshchyna, had reportedly been detained for 10 days in the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia region as she attempted to travel to Mariupol to report on human rights violations occurring there. As she later wrote in an article for Hromadske, she was interrogated by officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), who threatened her with imprisonment and sexual violence. She was released in exchange for recording a so-called “neutral interview” video.

At the time of writing, the fate and whereabouts of Ms. Victoria Roshchyna are unknown.


In the communication, we express our serious concern over the reported enforced disappearance of Ms. Victoria Roshchyna, and her alleged arbitrary and incommunicado detention, which appear to be related to her legitimate human rights work and the exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and access to information. We are also gravely concerned at the alleged threats, physical violence, home searches, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and killings of human rights defenders and civil society representatives in the territories of Ukraine occupied by the Russian Federation, which appear to be part of a wider pattern of a crackdown on those expressing any form of dissent.


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