Rescuers work at a site of a building damaged during a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, on December 31, 2022. At least three journalists were recently injured in Russian attacks on Ukraine. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

At least 3 journalists injured by Russian shelling in Ukraine

Paris, January 4, 2023 – Russian and Ukrainian authorities should swiftly investigate the recent shelling attacks that injured at least three journalists, and ensure that members of the press are protected while covering the war in Ukraine, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

On December 31, Russian forces shelled Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, injuring Wataru Sekita, a video reporter with the Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun, according to news reports and multiple reports by the outlet.

Separately, on Monday, January 2, Russian shelling in Druzhkivka, a city in the eastern region of Donetsk, injured Björn Stritzel, a reporter with the German daily newspaper Bild, and an unidentified Ukrainian journalist, according to media reports, a report by Bild, and Stritzel, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

None of the journalists were seriously injured, according to those sources.

“Journalists who risk their lives covering Russia’s war in Ukraine are civilians under international humanitarian law and should be protected as such,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Russian and Ukrainian authorities should promptly investigate the attacks that injured journalists Wataru Sekita and Björn Stritzel, and make sure members of the press can report safely on the conflict.” 

Sekita was outside a hotel in Kyiv’s Pecherskyi district when debris from the shelling hit his right leg; he was hospitalized for a minor injury, Asahi Shimbun reported.

“My leg still hurts, but I’m fine. I will go home for now,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Japanese Embassy in Ukraine said that it was “deeply outraged” by the New Year’s Eve attack on civilians and civilian facilities. The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the December 31 strikes were carried out “at Ukrainian defense-industrial complex facilities, involved in the production of combat drones.”

In Druzhkivka, Stritzel told CPJ that he was in a hotel dining room with a Ukrainian journalist, whose name he did not know, when the room’s window exploded.

“I am fine, no need for hospitalization, just a cut [to the forehead] due to flying glass pieces,” Stritzel told CPJ. The Ukrainian journalist had his back to the window and received bruises from being hit by debris, Stritzel said.

Stritzel was in Druzhkivka with other Bild journalists to cover the battle for the eastern city of Bakhmut, he told CPJ. Bild chief editor Johannes Boie told CPJ via messaging app that no other journalists with the outlet were injured in the January attack.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the strike had targeted Ukrainian military equipment. Stritzel tweeted  on January 3 that “there was nothing close to a military facility or weapon systems” at the scene of the strike.

CPJ emailed the Russian and Ukrainian Defense Ministries for comment, but did not receive any replies.