Journalists in Ukraine pay high price for reporting Russia's war


ANKARA – Local journalists and press members who have flooded into Ukraine from around the world are risking their lives at every turn to report the latest developments on the ground in the war-torn country.

On March 26, Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said 12 journalists died and 10 others were injured while reporting the war which Russia started on Feb. 24.

"Revealing the truth about Putin's aggression is getting increasingly risky and dangerous," she wrote on Twitter.

Russia committed at least 148 crimes against journalists and media in Ukraine only in the first month of the war, according to the Institute of Mass Information (IMI), an independent, non-governmental organization backing the interests of the civil society of Ukraine and, in particular, responsible journalists.

According to IMI reports, at least six journalists have so far been killed by the Russian forces in Ukraine's capital Kyiv and its suburbs while on duty. It also said at least seven journalists were injured and one went missing.

The IMI claimed it was aware of at least six cases of journalists being taken hostage and ill-treated by the Russian troops.

At least 10 TV towers were targeted by the Russian forces, causing complete or temporary disruption of TV and radio broadcasting in eight regions of Ukraine, it further said.

In addition, some 70 regional media outlets were forced to shut down across the country due to war-related threats, the IMI said.

Last month, Russian troops had attacked a team of Sky News reporters in their car. Several team members sustained bullet injuries, but they survived thanks to their bulletproof jackets.

Maksim Levin

On April 2, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced on Twitter that photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Maksim Levin was found dead near Kyiv where he was documenting "Russian war crimes." It said unarmed Max, according to investigators, was killed by Russian troops with "two shots from firearms."

"He is survived by his wife and four children," the ministry added.

Levin, 40, who went missing on March 13 while working on the frontlines near the capital city, was found dead near the village of Huta-Mezhyhirska on April 1, according to Ukraine's presidential aide Andriy Yermak.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser and former deputy minister at the Interior Ministry, also confirmed on Telegram that the Ukrainian journalist went missing over two weeks ago when he was reporting in the Vishgorod district, an area of intense fighting.

Levin, accompanied by Oleksiy Chernyshov, a serviceman and former photographer, went to Huta-Mezhyhirska on March 13 "to document the consequences of the Russian aggression," said Ukrainian media outlet, for which Levin worked for over 10 years.

"They left the car and went in the direction of Moshchun village. Since then, there was no contact with both men. Later, it became known that intense combat action started in the area where Maksim Levin was going to work. The location and fate of Oleksiy Chernyshov are currently unknown," it added.

Levin was also working with the international media, with most of his documentaries about the war in Ukraine.

Oksana Baulina

Russian journalist Oksana Baulina of the investigative website The Insider was killed in a Russian shelling in Kyiv on March 23 while she was on duty.

The outlet said in a statement that Baulina was reporting from Kyiv and the western city of Lviv, and she was killed when Russian troops shelled a residential area while the journalist was filming the destruction in Podil district of Kyiv.

She died "during a bombardment while carrying out an editorial assignment," it added.

The Insider, whose editorial offices are based in Latvia, said another civilian also died in the shelling, while two others who were with Baulina were wounded and admitted to hospital.

Baulina was known for previously working for Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation.

She had left Russia after the state authorities last year added Navalny's foundation to the extremist list.

Oleksandra Kuvshinova and Pierre Zakrzewski

Oleksandra "Sasha" Kuvshinova, 24, a Ukrainian filmmaker and journalist, died on March 14 together with the Irish journalist Pierre Zakrzewski, 55, a cameraman for Fox News, when their car was struck by the incoming gunfire of Russian troops in the village of Horenka in the northwestern outskirts of Kyiv region.

British correspondent Benjamin Hall, 39, was injured in the attack.

Zakrzewski, a veteran cameraman, covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria for Fox News.

Kuvshynova was serving as a consultant for Fox News on the ground.

Brent Renaud

Another foreign journalist who was killed while covering the Russian war in Ukraine was Brent Renaud, an award-winning filmmaker and journalist.

The American journalist, 50, was killed near the Russian checkpoint in the town of Irpin in the Kyiv region on March 13, according to police.

Renaud, a former The New York Times contributor, was shot dead when he, along with a colleague, went to report the situation of refugees fleeing the region.

Brent was in the region to work for a TIME Studios project on the global refugee crisis.

Kyiv police chief Andriy Nebytov said the journalist was targeted by Russian soldiers, while his two colleagues were injured and taken to hospital by Ukrainian rescuers.

One of the injured journalists was identified as Colombian-American reporter Juan Arredondo.

Viktor Dudar

A 44-year-old journalist from the Lviv region, Viktor Dudar was shot dead in Mykolaiv, Ukraine's southern strategic port city on the Black Sea, on March 4.

He was a crime correspondent for Express, Ukraine's weekly newspaper, until he volunteered for the 2014-2015 war in the eastern Donbas region.

After becoming a reservist and returning from the war, the Ukrainian journalist took the paper's defense correspondent position.

Dudar, who in peacetime was a journalist, joined back the army to fight the advancing Russian forces with the start of Moscow's war.

Yevhenii Sakun

Ukrainian cameraman Yevhenii Sakun, 49, who was working for LIVE TV channel, was killed on March 1 during a Russian rocket attack on the TV tower in Kyiv's Babyn Yar area.

When the missile hit the building, Sakun was working with his colleagues there.

His body was identified by his press card only.

Besides Sakun, four more people were killed and five others injured in a strike on a TV tower in Kyiv's Shevchenkivskyi district.

Dilerbek Shakiro

Shakirov Dilerbek Shukurovych, a journalist for the information weekly Navkolo Tebe (Around You), was killed on Feb. 26, two days after the war began.

He was shot dead from a car with an automatic weapon near the village of Zelenivka, a suburb of the southern Kherson city.

The International Federation of Journalists on Twitter condemned the killing of Ukrainian journalist.

The Russian war against Ukraine, which started on Feb. 24, has drawn international outrage, with the EU, US, and Britain, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.

At least 1,417 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 2,038 injured, according to UN estimates, with the true figure feared to be far higher.

More than 4.17 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with millions more internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency. (Anadolu)