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Russia
15.03.22
Urgent Interventions

Ukraine/Russia: Disappearance of Ukrainian journalist Oleg Baturin

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

RUS 004 / 0322 / OBS 018
Abduction /
Risk of ill-treatment and torture
Ukraine / Russian Federation
March 15, 2022

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Kherson region in Ukraine, part of which is occupied by the Russian Federation.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the disappearance of Mr. Oleg Baturin, a Ukrainian journalist working for the Novy Den newspaper and member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU). Oleg Baturin has been reporting on the war since President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which started on February 24, 2022.

On March 12, 2022, Oleg Baturin was allegedly abducted by Russian soldiers in the Kherson region, Ukraine, part of which is under occupation by Russian troops. At about 4 pm, Oleg Baturin received a call from an acquaintance who proposed to meet him at a bus station located near to the journalist’s house, in the town of Kakhova. Oleg Baturin left his phone and documents at home, and he promised to return in 20 minutes. The journalist was never seen again after he left his house to go to the meeting. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Oleg Baturin’s whereabouts remained unknown.

On the same day, at around 4:50 pm, according to local reports, Russian soldiers were seen near the Kakhova bus station, where Oleg Baturin was supposed to meet his acquaintance.

Since the war started, the neighbouring town of Nova Kakhovka has been occupied by Russian forces who are attempting to install a Russian-controlled military-civilian administration.

The Observatory recalls that since the beginning of the war, Russian authorities have brutally repressed independent journalists and media outlets, peaceful protesters, human rights defenders and civil society organisations in both Russia and Ukraine, including the arbitrary arrests of prominent rights defenders Mr. Oleg Orlov and Ms. Svetlana Gannushkina in Moscow.

The Observatory strongly condemns the abduction of Ukrainian journalist Oleg Baturin and expresses its utmost concern over the risk of ill-treatment and torture he faces. The Observatory urges the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally disclose his whereabouts and release him.

The Observatory further calls on the Russian authorities to put an immediate end to all forms of harassment, arbitrary detention and abductions against journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society organisations operating in Ukraine and in Russia, and to respect their right to freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russia, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Oleg Baturin and all other human rights defenders and journalists reporting on the war in Ukraine and Russia;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally disclose Oleg Baturin’s whereabouts and release him as well as all human rights defenders and independent journalists arbitrarily detained in Ukraine and Russia;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against Oleg Baturin and all other human rights defenders in Ukraine and in Russia, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities and exercise their rights without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.

Addresses:

  • Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Twitter: @KremlinRussia_E
  • Mr. Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter:@GovernmentRF
  • Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, E-mail: ministry@mid.ru
  • Mr. Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, Twitter: @mod_russia
  • Mr. Igor Krasnov, General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, pressa@genproc.gov.ru
  • Mr. Alexander Bortnikov, Director of Federal Security Service (FSS), fsb@fsb.ru
  • Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch
  • Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch
  • Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Email: russia.coe@orange.fr

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Russian Federation in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, March 15, 2022

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

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