A Ukrainian serviceman stands near captured Russian tanks, one painted in the color of the Ukrainian national flag and the other marked with the letter ''Z'', amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the north of the Kharkiv region on March 4, 2022. (Irina Rybakova/Press service of the Ukrainian Ground Forces via Reuters)

CPJ calls on Ukraine to exempt journalists from compulsory military service

New York, March 7, 2022 – The Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday called on Ukrainian authorities to exempt journalists from the general mobilization of all Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60.

“Ukrainian authorities must allow the country’s journalists to continue covering the war and defending the truth, and exempt them from compulsory military service,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said. “Ukrainian authorities know very well that the information war is no less important than the war in trenches.”

On March 3, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, approved the presidential decree on general mobilization, according to the Rada’s statement. The list of groups exempt from compulsory military service, published by local media and on Ukraine’s border guard Facebook page, does not include journalists.  

Journalists in different cities have been summoned to local city council office or branches of the defense ministry as potential conscripts, according to journalists who spoke to CPJ and asked to remain anonymous for security reasons.  

Sevgil Musaieva, chief editor of Ukrainska Pravda, one of Ukraine’s largest independent media outlets with correspondents in different cities across Ukraine, told CPJ by phone that all her male correspondents are faced with the draft: “When my correspondent arrived in [the western city of] Lviv, the city mayor asked him to come to the City Council and sign a note that said he had to stay in Lviv. Not just Ukrainska Pravda, but other media outlets in Ukraine are facing mobilization.”

If dozens of her male colleagues are drafted, Musaieva added, “Ukrainska Pravda won’t be able to continue its work as a media outlet.”