Journalists as targets

By Sarah Raparoli Switch to German for original article

Journalists check facts, provide background information and inform people. But when there is a war going on in their own country, their work becomes a daily challenge for which they risk their own lives. Two journalists from Ukraine report.

It is a war that does not only target a country. It is a war that attacks people ─ civilians. A war that aims to weaken the resolve of citizens in Ukraine through false news, disinformation and Russian propaganda. "The Russian propaganda that is running at full speed is not only the military apparatus, but also the disinformation machine." Olga Tokariuk sums up in one sentence what became reality in Ukraine a month ago. The independent journalist is trying harder than ever to verify information and refute fake news. It is because of people like her that the world learns about what is really going on. At the same time, it is people like her who are particularly challenged under these circumstances. They put themselves in danger by doing their job.

"Russia is trying to cover up the truth and facts about what is happening right now. They want to distract from the crimes that the Russian military is committing." This goes so far that journalists previously captured by the Russian military are only released on one condition: the recording of a video. This was the case with Kyiv journalist Wiktoriya Roshchyna, who disappeared on March 14. "She was forced to claim that Russian occupiers had saved her life. Obviously, this video was taken in captivity and is intended only for the Russians to show it in their state-controlled media to present themselves as heroes."

Colleagues in danger

The fact that the work of journalists is becoming increasingly dangerous is unfortunately not only shown by the case of Wiktoriya Roshchyna. At least twelve journalists have been killed since Russia's invasion, including a former colleague of Tokariuk. "We didn't have intensive contact, but this is a person I know, worked with and have fond memories." Another journalist, Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski was also killed. "I was interviewed by Fox News in early February, Pierre filmed the interview. We only had a brief exchange, but a photo exists of him filming me." It seems that Tokariuk herself cannot yet comprehend that people she knows have been killed.

"What is particularly striking is that journalists seem to be deliberately attacked. These people were wearing helmets. They wore protective waistcoats with press marks and identification and were very experienced." At the time of our interview, another colleague, photographer Max Levin, is missing. "He is also very experienced. We don't know if he is missing, captured or already dead. It's very, very concerning."

Two journalists from the AP news agency have been reporting from Mariupol for more than two weeks. They documented the attack on the maternity hospital for the world. "Their story is remarkable because it is largely thanks to the work of these photographers that we know what happened in the city. They later told us that they were on the Russian hit lists … The Russians were looking for them."

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