Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said he is not aware of cases of missing Ukrainian journalists and activists, or of reports of arrested officials in Russian-held territories of Ukraine.
Peskov’s comments come after CNN reported that local Ukrainian officials had been arrested, and journalists and civil society members had disappeared and are still missing.
Commenting on CNN’s report, Peskov said the Kremlin is unaware of such cases but said they needed to be examined carefully individually.
“It is very important to consider each specific case, each name and surname,” Peskov told CNN. “Nobody contacted us [about it] and we do not have such information, “he added.
In addition to CNN reporting, the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) said that dozens of Ukrainians, including local officials, activists and journalists, are being arbitrarily detained and subjected to forced disappearances.
At least 45 cases of civilian detentions have been recorded by the HRMMU since the war began on February 24, according to an HRMMU spokesperson.
On Monday the mission said it had so far documented 24 cases of conflict-related detentions of local officials in Russian-occupied regions, 13 of whom have subsequently been released.
Its monitors have also recorded the disappearances of 21 journalists, civil society activists, protesters and civilians, who “vocally opposed the invasion in Kyiv, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions.”
Some of those who have disappeared were taken during protests against the Russian invasion or for openly expressing their support for Ukraine.
A handful have subsequently been released, the spokesperson said, although exact numbers are still being verified by the mission.
“Information regarding the number of released individuals is pending verification. HRMMU has received many complaints about missing civilian persons, which are also pending corroboration,” said the spokesperson.
“There are grounds to believe that some of them may also have been detained, and possibly subjected to enforced disappearance,” they added.
Families are often denied any information about the fate of those being held. Many are often too terrified to speak out about the disappearance of their relatives, for fear that it could trigger a backlash against themselves or their loved ones.