Paris, July 6, 2022 – Ukrainian and Russian authorities should ensure that all journalists covering the war in Ukraine can work freely and safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On Monday, July 4, Andrei Alekseyev, an assistant camera operator with the Russian public broadcaster TV Centre, was hit by shrapnel in his head and chest while reporting near a train station in the Russia-backed separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, according to multiple statements and Telegram posts by his outlet and a post by the Ukrainian National Union of Journalists (NUJU), a local trade group.
Alekseyev was taken to a hospital in Donetsk where he was treated for injuries to his head, ribs, and one of his lungs; his condition was stable as of Tuesday, and he was set to undergo surgery to remove shrapnel from his chest, according to his outlet.
In its statements, TV Centre claimed that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the shelling that injured Alekseyev. CPJ was unable to independently verify the source of the fire.
“Intense fighting in the Donbas region of Ukraine makes it all the more important for the warring parties to ensure the safety of journalists covering the conflict on the ground,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Journalists reporting in Ukraine are considered civilians under international law, and Russian and Ukrainian authorities have a responsibility to ensure their protection.”
TV Centre correspondent Denis Bolshakov and camera operator Andrei Pashutin were with Alekseyev at the scene and escaped unharmed, their employer reported, saying the shelling intensified when its crew drove to the city’s central railway station to interview local residents.
On July 4, the Ukrainian army heavily shelled Donetsk, according to the Donetsk News Agency, a news website administered by supporters of the pro-Russia separatists who control the city. On July 5, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko stated that there was “no safe place without shelling in the Donetsk region.”
TV Centre’s reporters have embedded with Russia-backed separatist forces during the invasion of Ukraine, and the outlet’s coverage supports the Russian government.
CPJ filled out a contact form on TV Centre’s website and contacted the outlet via messaging app, but did not receive any replies.
CPJ emailed the Russian and Ukrainian Ministries of Defense for comment but did not receive any reply.