Paris, March 9, 2022 – Russian and Ukrainian authorities must ensure that members of the press can cover the war in Ukraine safely and freely, and Russian forces must refrain from targeting journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
Since late February, Russian troops have injured at least three journalists from international outlets, and at least one reporter for a Ukrainian outlet has been attacked for their reporting.
“It is more crucial than ever for journalists to be able to cover Russia’s invasion of Ukraine safely and freely,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Ukrainian journalist Yevhenii Sakun was tragically killed by a Russian shelling attack on a TV tower in Kyiv, and we fear other reporters may die as the war continues. We call on all parties involved to ensure the safety of journalists before the worst happens again.”
Russian soldiers shot chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay in the lower back, as well as camera operator Richie Mockler, who was hit twice in his body armor, according to those reports, which said that Ramsay was recuperating from his injuries and his life was not in danger.
Producers Martin Vowles, Dominique Van Heerden, and Andrii Lytvynenko were also members of that Sky News team, and escaped the attack unharmed.
The journalists shouted that they were members of the press as soon as the attack started, and were wearing clearly marked press vests, according to those sources and a video posted by the Kyiv region police following the attack.
Freelance Swiss journalist Guillaume Briquet
On March 6, Russian troops shot at and robbed freelance Swiss journalist Guillaume Briquet near the village of Vodyano-Lorino, in southern Ukraine’s Nikolaev region, according to media reports, a photo the journalist posted on Facebook, and an interview he gave to French TV station BFM TV.
The soldiers shot Briquet’s vehicle four times, despite it being clearly marked as “Press,” and also fired four shots near his head, according to those sources, which said that he sustained injuries from broken glass on his head and arm.
When Briquet exited his vehicle with his hands up and identified himself as a journalist, a group of men who said they were Russian soldiers “robbed me, stole my money, and threatened to kill me,” he said in that interview. The soldiers stole his passport, personal belongings, photographic equipment, a laptop, and more than 3,000 euros (US$3,319), according to those news reports.
Al Araby TV
On March 5, heavy Russian shelling trapped Adnan Can and Habib Demirci, two journalists for the London-based broadcaster Al Araby TV, with a group of civilians near Irpin, in the Kyiv region, according to multiple news reports.
In a report published on March 8, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, a local trade group, announced that the Al Araby TV journalists managed to escape unharmed after spending about four days in a bomb shelter without electricity or adequate water or food.
On March 7, an unidentified man attacked Dmytro Replyanchuk, a reporter for the Ukrainian investigative outlet Slidstvo.Info, while he was reporting at a monastery in Kyiv, according to news reports and a statement from the outlet sent to CPJ via messaging app.
Replyanchuk and a camera operator, whose name was not disclosed in those reports or the outlet’s statement, were attempting to interview people at the monastery about the war when a man walking with a stick started hitting Replyanchuk’s leg with it, yelling at the reporters to leave, as seen in a video posted by Slidstvo.Info.
Other unidentified men at the scene tried to snatch Replyanchuk’s camera and shouted at the journalists as they left the scene, that video shows.
The Slidstvo.Info statement said that the outlet had filed a report to the police, but that the attackers were still unidentified. Replyanchuk did not sustain any serious injuries.
CPJ emailed the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Kyiv regional police for comment, but did not immediately receive any replies.
Previously, Ukrainian journalist Yevhenii Sakun was killed on March 1 when Russian forces shelled a TV tower in Kyiv, and two journalists from the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet were shot by unidentified attackers on February 26, as CPJ documented at the time.