Paris, March 30, 2022 – Russian and Ukrainian authorities should ensure that journalists are not targeted while reporting on the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On Tuesday, March 29, Rodion Severyanov, a war correspondent for the Russian broadcaster Izvestiya TV, was shot in the leg and wounded in the southeast Ukrainian city of Mariupol, according to multiple reports by his outlet, as well as a statement sent to CPJ via email by Izvestiya TV’s press service.
Severyanov was covering activity by Russian forces and their pro-Russian allies in Ukraine when one of those soldiers was injured; he was shot when he paused reporting to help that soldier, according to those sources.
In an interview with his outlet, Severyanov said he believed he was shot by a Ukrainian sniper. CPJ was unable to independently verify the source of the fire.
“Journalists are civilians under international humanitarian law and should not be targeted while reporting from the battlefield,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Russian and Ukrainian authorities should ensure that journalists are protected in combat areas, and are allowed to work freely.”
Izvestiya TV is a broadcaster affiliated with the Izvestiya newspaper, and is owned by the Russian private media holding National Media Group; the outlet’s reporters have embedded with Russian forces during the invasion of Ukraine, and its coverage generally supports the Russian government.
“I was shot by a Ukrainian sniper. It was impossible not to notice the inscription ‘Press’ on my bulletproof vest, so he knew exactly who he was shooting at,” Severyanov said in the interview. Izvestiya TV camera operator Andrey Perfilyev, who was present at the scene, also told the outlet that he believed the sniper had targeted the journalist.
After he was shot, Russian fighters brought Severyanov to a mobile hospital and then to a hospital in the Russia-backed separatist-controlled city of Novoazovsk, according to reports and Izvestiya TV’s press service. He was in a stable condition at a hospital in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don as of Wednesday, the press service’s statement said.
Severyanov has covered the Russian invasion of Ukraine since it began in late February, according to that statement, which referred to the war as a “special operation,” the government-approved term for the conflict.
Russian Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin has instructed authorities to investigate the circumstances of the attack and identify its perpetrators. Valery Fadeyev, the chair of the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights government body, told Izvestiya that the attack was “a blatant violation of the rights of a civilian.”
CPJ emailed the Ukrainian and Russian Defense Ministries for comment but did not receive any replies.
[Editors’ note: This article has been updated to change the description of the statement sent to CPJ by Izvestiya TV’s press service.]