Ukraine: the two injured Danish journalists have been evacuated
Although seriously injured by deliberate gunfire, the two Danish reporters survived. They have been evacuated from Ukrainian territory and are on their way to their country of origin. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its call to do everything possible to guarantee the safety of reporters in the field.
Reporter Stefan Weichert and photographer Emil Filtenborg Mikkelsen were on their way to cover a bombed kindergarten in the northeastern city of Ohtyrka for the Danish newspaper Ekstra-Bladet on 26 February when their car came under fire and both sustained serious gunshot injuries although wearing bulletproof vests.
After getting away from their attackers, they staunched the flow of blood from their wounds as best they could while waiting beside their car for emergency responders to take them to a hospital.
Based in Ukraine for the past two years, the two journalists were initially in a hospital in the city of Poltava, where they say they could hear Russian planes and shelling. Although their condition was stable, they told their newspaper the next day that their injuries prevented them from driving, while the closure of Ukraine’s airspace precluded any possibility of their being medevacked out of the country.
“These two Danish journalists are the first to be seriously injured while covering the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine and their gunshot wounds could have been fatal,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “We call on all belligerents to undertake to respect the security of journalists, who have an essential role to play in continuing to report the situation in the field.”
As the scale of the fighting in Ukraine grows, it is becoming more and more dangerous for journalists to cover the war. A journalist following the situation from Kyiv told RSF that it is becoming harder to approach the groups that have been forming to defend Ukrainian territory. Because of reports that are circulating about the presence of Russian saboteurs on the streets, mistrust of strangers, including journalists, is growing.
Ten journalists were killed in the eastern Donbass region at the height of the fighting there from 2014 to 2016. RSF has a safety guide containing a lot of advice for reporters visiting war zones. On the eve of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine’s Institute of Mass Information also published a list of tips for journalists planning to report in combat zones.
Ukraine is ranked 97th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index while Russia is ranked 150th.