Ukrainian producer Bohdan Bitik was shot and killed on April 26, 2023, on the Antonivskiy Most bridge, near the southern frontline Ukrainian city of Kherson.
Bitik was working with the Italian daily La Repubblica alongside Italian correspondent Corrada Zunino, who was injured in the attack, according to multiple news reports, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office, and interviews Zunino gave to his employer and the Italian news agency Adnkronos.
“I heard a hiss and I saw Bohdan on the ground, he was not moving,” Zunino told his employer. La Repubblica reported that the journalists were attacked “most likely by Russian snipers.” CPJ was unable to independently determine the source of the fire.
Bitik was killed at the scene; Zunino was shot in the shoulder and was treated in hospitals in Kherson and Odesa, according to his outlet and a Twitter post by the journalist.
Zunino told La Repubblica that they were not in a “fighting zone” when they were attacked.
Oksana Romanyuk, the head of the Institute of Mass Information, a local press freedom group, told CPJ by phone that Bitik had been working as a producer with several Italian media outlets, including the public broadcaster Rai, and that he had been accompanying Italian journalists on reporting trips. Zunino told Adnkronos that Bitik had joined him on five reporting trips.
Bitik and Zunino were both wearing clothing identifying them as members of the press when they were attacked, but Bitik was not wearing a bulletproof vest, according to Romanyuk, an IMI report, and the Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne.
“He is a local producer, which is the vital part of a journalistic crew,” Romanyuk said. “This is heartbreaking.”
The Kherson branch of the prosecutor’s office announced the launch of an investigation into the attack under Part 2 of Article 438 of the Ukrainian criminal code, which pertains to the “violation of the laws and customs of war.”
CPJ emailed the Russian and Ukrainian ministries of defense for comment, as well as the Kherson Regional Military Administration, but did not receive any replies.