Five journalists killed in first month of fighting in Ukraine
Two Ukrainian journalists and three foreign journalists have been killed in the course of their work in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on 24 February. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Russian and Ukrainian authorities to guarantee the safety of media personnel in Ukraine. Attacking journalists is a war crime.
The latest victim was one of the few Russian journalists in Ukraine, Oksana Baulina. She was killed in the capital, Kyiv, on 23 March by a “kamikaze drone” – an aerial combat drone containing an explosive, according to her news organisation, the Latvian-based Russian online investigative media outlet The Insider.
At the time, she was reporting on the damage caused by a previous strike on a shopping centre in Podil, a suburb of Kyiv. For security reasons, she was accompanied at the time by two police officers, who were injured in the attack. She had recently conducted interviews with Russian soldiers captured by the Ukrainian army in Lviv – interviews that have not yet been published.
“A quarter of the journalists killed since the start of the year worldwide have died in the past 30 days while covering the war in Ukraine,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “As their reporting is essential in order to understand the war in Ukraine, and attacking journalists is a war crime under international law, we call on the Russian and Ukrainian authorities to guarantee their safety on the ground.”
Two journalists were killed when artillery fire targeted a crew with the US TV channel Fox News in Horenka, near, Kyiv, on 14 March. They were Pierre Zakrzewski, a 55-year-old cameraman who was used to covering wars, and Olexandra Kuvshynova, a 24-year-old Ukrainian journalist working for Fox News as a fixer. British journalist Benjamin Hall sustained serious leg injuries from shrapnel in the same attack.
Brent Renaud, a 51-year-old US documentary filmmaker who had worked with the New York Times on several occasions in the past, was shot in the back of the neck while driving his car in Irpin, a town northwest of Kyiv, on 13 March. Juan Arredondo, a US-Colombian reporter who was with him, was injured and hospitalised. Together, they had been filming Kyiv residents leaving en masse for other regions.
The war’s first media fatality was Evgeny Sakun, a Ukrainian cameraman working for the local Kyiv Live TV channel, who was killed when Russian missiles hit the Kyiv television tower on 1 March.
RSF has been keeping a tally of attacks and other abuses against journalists since the start of the war in Ukraine. In addition to the five killed, nine other journalists have been injured by gunfire, missiles or artillery fire, and local journalists are being subjected to a great deal of harassment in the occupied zones.
Ukraine is ranked 97th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index, while Russia is ranked 150th.