New York, July 26, 2023—Russian and Ukrainian authorities should swiftly investigate the recent attacks on journalists reporting in Ukraine and ensure that members of the press are not targeted while covering the war, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On Monday, July 24, Dylan Collins, a U.S. video journalist with the French news agency Agence France-Presse, was wounded in a drone attack while reporting at a Ukrainian artillery position in a forested area near the frontline city of Bakhmut, according to Twitter posts by AFP journalists and several reports from the AFP wires. Two other AFP journalists who were present at the scene escaped unharmed, an AFP representative told CPJ in a phone interview.
Previously, on Saturday, July 22, a Russian shelling attack injured Ievgen Shylko, a camera operator with German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, while he was reporting on a Ukrainian army training ground near Druzhkivka, a city in the eastern Donetsk region, with DW correspondent Mathias Bölinger, according to media reports, multiple reports by DW, and Bölinger, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
Separately, on July 19, Ukrainian journalist Yuliya Kiriyenko sustained a mild concussion from Russian shelling while reporting in Donetsk, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
“Journalists reporting in Ukraine are vital eyewitnesses who have been documenting Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country for almost a year and a half now,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Russian and Ukrainian authorities should investigate the recent attacks that seriously injured Ievgen Shylko and Dylan Collins and ensure that members of the press covering the war are protected under international humanitarian law.”
Collins sustained shrapnel injuries and was evacuated to a nearby hospital, according to those reports on his case, which said the journalist was “conscious” and that his condition was “not life-threatening.”
“We are investigating the full circumstances behind this incident,” AFP Europe Director Christine Buhagiar said in a statement. All the AFP journalists at the scene were wearing press markings, the AFP representative told CPJ.
Collins, a video coordinator for Lebanon and Syria, has been working with AFP since 2018 and made regular trips to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion. On May 9, AFP video journalist Arman Soldin was killed in a rocket attack while reporting near Chasiv Yar, a city near Bakhmut.
Bölinger, who escaped the attack unharmed, told CPJ on July 25 that Shylko was in stable condition in a hospital in Dnipro. He said that Shylko had undergone two surgeries and was recovering well, despite “pretty severe” injuries, with “several organs damaged.”
Bölinger wrote on Twitter on July 22 that he and Shylko were attacked while “filming soldiers training at a shooting range.” Shylko was hit by shrapnel from a Russian cluster munition, the DW statement said, adding that the attack happened about 23 kilometers (14 miles) from the frontline.
“We were filming the Ukrainian army during target practice when suddenly we heard several explosions. We lay down, more explosions followed, we saw people were wounded. Later, the Ukrainian army confirmed that we had been fired at with cluster munitions,” Bölinger told DW. The Druzhkivka military administration reported that Russian cluster munitions attacked the city on that day.
Bölinger told CPJ that their armored vehicle was also hit as they were leaving, adding that the passenger’s side window was damaged.
Kiriyenko, a reporter with TSN, a daily news program with the Ukrainian privately owned broadcaster 1+1, came under Russian shelling near Lyman, in the Donetsk region, according to a Facebook post by the journalist, a report by TSN, the local press freedom group Institute of Mass Information, and Ukrainian media monitoring organization Detector Media.
Kiriyenko told CPJ that she was filming a report about a Russian offensive toward the cities of Kupiansk and Lyman when the shelling occurred. She said that she had suffered a mild concussion from the blast wave, but that she was feeling fine as of July 25.
CPJ is also investigating news reports that on July 22 a shelling in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia killed Rostislav Zhuravlyov, an employee of Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, and injured another RIA Novosti employee as well as two employees of Russian privately owned broadcaster IZ.RU.
CPJ emailed the Russian and Ukrainian defense ministries for comment but did not receive a reply.
At least 15 journalists have been killed while covering the war in Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion. Many others have been injured, detained, or threatened over their work, as CPJ has documented.