“The Taken”: ZMINA launches a campaign about missing Ukrainians

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Right now, in Ukraine, Russian forces are kidnapping civilians, taking them from their homes and off the street and imprisoning them in secret. Today, ZMINA is launching the #TheTaken campaign to tell the world what is happening, to shine a spotlight on those who have been taken, and let Russia know that the world is watching. 

ZMINA have identified over 30 civilians who have been abducted; all connection with them has been lost, their whereabouts unknown. They aren’t soldiers – they are journalists, aid workers, community representatives, elected officials and council workers. Their number grows daily. 

Russia aims to terrorise the people of Ukraine into submission. They must not be allowed to continue. 

We can help to keep those in captivity safe by letting Russia know that the world is watching, that they haven’t been forgotten, and demanding their release. 

Tetiana Pechonchyk, Head of ZMINA, said: Russia is detaining and disappearing civilians in an attempt to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people. Today we are publishing our first list of those who have been taken so the Kremlin knows the world is watching and will not allow them to come to harm. In total we have so far documented 39 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions in the Ukrainian territories newly occupied by Russia. We ask everyone to join us in sending a message to Moscow – we know who you have taken and we will not forget their names.”  

On Monday 28th March, ZMINA has organised a Day of Action, on which political leaders and celebrities will take to social media to post the names and faces of the abductees and demand their immediate release.  ZMINA wants everyone across the world to join in and share these names and faces and call for them to be freed. 

Hugh Williamson, Director for Europe and Central Asia division, Human Rights Watch said:  “These allegations are extremely disturbing. Since 2014, HRW has documented numerous cases of Russia-backed armed groups in Donbas holdi8ng civilians in prolonged, arbitrary detention. Some of these constituted enforced disappearances. The Russian authorities should abide by international law and free arbitrarily detained civilians immediately.” 

Oleh Baturin, a journalist from Kherson region, was taken and arbitrarily detained for eight days on his way to meet a friend at a bus stop.  He was released on 20th March.  He said: “I was beaten up, humiliated, threatened.  They told me they would kill me.  I had almost no food, no water for several days.  They wanted to break me down, crush me.  They wanted to show me what will happen to other journalists: you will be crushed.  You will be killed.”

To join in with the Day of Action, post the graphic attached to this release on their social media accounts along with the following suggested text: 

Putin can’t take Ukraine so he’s taking its people. Dozens of civilians are missing and thousands more deported to Russia. These people have names and faces. Please share them and demand their safe return. Ask @KremlinRussia_E ‘Where are the taken?’ #TheTaken 

List of Missing Persons 

A list of the abducted persons confirmed by ZMINA is provided below with further details about each case.

Mykola Masliy – member of the Kupyansk Town Council of the Kharkiv region. He went missing on March 1, 2022, during a rally against the occupation. According to the Newsroom media outlet, the Russian military called him aside for a conversation, after which they began firing and throwing smoke grenades, and Masliy was taken away. No other information is known about him, his official Facebook page has not been updated since February 27, 2022.

Serhiy Tsyhipa – civil society activist from the town of Nova Kakhovka, the Kherson region, Head of the NGO Kakhovka Bridgehead. On March 12, 2022, he went to Tavriysk with a dog to hand over medicines to his mother-in-law, and then connection with him was lost. His whereabouts are unknown. Unconfirmed reports suggest he may have been taken to Kherson.

Serhiy Pryima – chairman of the Melitopol District Council of the Zaporizhzhya region. At 07:30 on March 13, 2022, representatives of the Russian security forces came to his home, searched his apartment, confiscated electronic devices andmedia, and took him away. His whereabouts are unknown.

Vitaliy Shevchenko – activist from Berdiansk, the Zaporizhzhya region. He was abducted by members of the Russian National Guard on March 15, 2022, after a rally against the occupation, when he entered the Cappuccino Café. According to Ukrayinska Pravda media outlet, several other activists were detained along with him.

Maksym Nehrov – public figure from Kherson, director of Tavriya Park LLC, member of the European Party of Ukraine, ATO veteran. Connection with him was lost on March 15, 2022. According to the activist’s acquaintances, there are eyewitnesses to his detention by Russian forces. It is also noted that Nehrov had health problems at the time of his disappearance. His whereabouts are unknown.

Dmytro Vasyliyev – Secretary of the Council of the Novaya Kakhovka United Territorial Community of the Kherson region. Ukrainska Pravda reported on him being captured by the Russians probably on March 16, 2022, since when he has been kept in the basement of a local police station.

Yulia (a.k.a.Tayra) Payevska – Ukrainian volunteer paramedic, was taken hostage together with her driver Serhiy in Mariupol, Donetsk region, on March 16, 2022. The whereabouts are currently unknown. Hromadske media reported about her abduction quoting a volunteer and politician close to Yulia.

Tetiana Svyrydenko – head of the Ivankiv council of the Vyshhorod district of the Kyiv region. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk referenced her abduction at a briefing on March 17, 2022. ICTV reported that Ukrainian national authorities had been working on releasing Russia’s hostages, including Tetiana Svyrydenko.

Мykola Sikalenko – the head of the village Tsyrkuny in the Kharkiv region. On 21 March 2022, he was abducted from his own building. Oleh Syniegubov, the head of Kharkiv local authorities reported he was taken in the direction of Lyptsi village of the Kharkiv region.  His whereabouts are unknown.

Viktor Maruniak – head of the village of Stara Zburyivka, the Kherson region, which is currently under temporary Russian occupation. On March 21, 2022, he was abducted by representatives of the Russian security forces, but was then released. On March 23, according to local activists, he was brought home in handcuffs while his house was searched. At this time, Viktor Maruniak managed to tell his wife that he was being beaten. Then he was taken away again.


ZMINA is a leading human rights organisation in Ukraine.  Since March 2014 ZMINA has been documenting human rights abuses in the Russian-occupied Crimea and organised an international human rights mission to Crimea. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, ZMINA, along with other 22 Ukrainian human rights NGOs, has established a Ukraine. 5 am Coalition to document war crimes, protect victims and bring to justice the top leadership of the Russian Federation, as well as the direct perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity.