Russia-Ukraine war: Russia claims 20 journalists murdered in Ukraine

The claim that Russian journalists are being killed in Ukraine echoes similar narratives pushed by the Kremlin back in April.

Journalists work near damaged buildings hit in a military strike, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Shevchenkivskyi district in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 23, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/SERHII NUZHNENKO)
Journalists work near damaged buildings hit in a military strike, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Shevchenkivskyi district in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 23, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SERHII NUZHNENKO)

Russia's Mission to the UN on Tuesday alleged in a tweet that 20 journalists had been murdered in Ukraine since 2014.

This echoes similar narratives pushed by the Kremlin in April. On April 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia had identified multiple agents from the US Central Intelligence Agency who had been collaborating with the Ukrainian security services to assassinate Russian journalists, according to Russian state-controlled media outlet Sputnik.

"Since they are failing to achieve their goals in the [Russian] information space — bamboozling their own citizens, of course, by using their monopolistic position in the information space in their own countries and some other nations, but failing here, in Russia, they have switched to a policy of terror - to preparations to kill our journalists," Putin stated.

"And here it should be noted that we know the names of the curators from Western services, primarily of course, from the US Central Intelligence Agency, who work with Ukrainian security agencies, and who, apparently, give such advice."

Sputnik added that earlier that same day, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that it had arrested members of an international neo-Nazi organization called National Socialism/White Power who had plotted to assassinate pro-Putin journalist Vladimir Solovyev.

A panoramic view of the Kremlin, St. Basil's Cathedral and Zaryadye Park in Moscow, Russia, May 12, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA)A panoramic view of the Kremlin, St. Basil's Cathedral and Zaryadye Park in Moscow, Russia, May 12, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA)

Freedom of the press in Ukraine

While the allegations that the US is conspiring with Ukraine to murder Russian journalists have not been corroborated, there is evidence that Ukraine cracked down on pro-Russian journalists prior to the war.

According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) "selectively targeted" several media outlets for their perceived pro-Russian editorial policies.

Furthermore, Amnesty claimed that the Ukrainian authorities were slow to investigate the murders of journalists and human rights activists, such as the killing of Vasil Mravitskyi in a car bombing, and that the administration of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky allegedly pressured the owner of the Kyiv Post to shut down the newspaper.

Possible Russian war crimes

Although no evidence has been presented that the Ukrainian government sponsored the killing of Russian journalists, there is, however, evidence that Russian forces have murdered journalists in Ukraine.

French non-profit NGO Reporters Without Borders reported that it had "registered more than 50 attacks against journalists and media that qualify as war crimes," including 7 murders and 13 abductions, including 4 instances of torture or mistreatment. The organization added that 13 TV towers and media outlets had been damaged or destroyed by airstrikes, missile attacks or artillery fire.