Reporters Without Borders shares 'frightening' account of Radio France interpreter tortured by Russian troops

Journalists targeted in Ukraine

Russians kill three, two of them from Fox News

A Radio France fixer and interpreter was tortured by Russian troops during a 9-day detention in Ukraine, according to the international non-profit Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The journalist, referred to as “Nikita” for safety purposes, was beaten with an iron bar, tortured with electricity, and subjected to a mock execution during his captivity, RSF reported. RSF’s stated aim is to promote and defend “the freedom to be informed and to inform.”

The 32-year-old fixer and interpreter, who has worked with foreign media since 2013, was taken prisoner by Russian soldiers on March 5 in central Ukraine.

“Nikita’s account is frightening : machine-gunning of his car, torture with a knife and electricity, repeated beatings with rifle butts and steel bars in the face and body, mock execution, food deprivation for 48 hours…” RSF wrote, noting it had verified his testimony.

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.
(REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko)

RSF said Nikita is currently safely harbored in a Ukrainian town.

Two other journalists, Oleh Baturyn and Viktoria Roshchina, had previously gone missing but have since been released, according to The Committee to Protect Journalists. Photojournalist Maks Levin, who had been reporting near Kyiv, has been reported missing since March 13, The Guardian also reported. 

“Our good friend, talented war photojournalist Maks Levin, has gone missing. He had yet another field day in a combat zone outside Kyiv on March 13. Ever since then, no one has had any contact with him. If you follow this war, you have definitely seen a lot of his works,” The Kyiv Independent defense reporter Illia Ponomarenko tweeted of the disappearance.

Firefighters evacuate an elderly woman from an apartment building hit by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine
(Ukrainian State Emergency Service via AP)

The peril journalists in Ukraine face hit home for Fox News last week after veteran cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski and Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova, 24, who had been assisting Fox in Ukraine, were killed after their vehicle was struck by incoming fire outside the capital city, Kyiv. Fox News reporter Benjamin Hall was injured in the same attack and has since been taken safely out of Ukraine.

In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office and posted on Facebook, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

U.S. filmmaker and journalist Brent Renaud, who was a former contributor to the New York Times, was shot and killed by Russian forces outside Kyiv earlier this month. U.S. photographer Juan Arredondo was wounded in the same attack.

RSF has declared that targeting journalists is a war crime, and that recent events have led to the need for increased awareness for the abduction of journalists.

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