European Federation of Journalists

Call for solidarity in Brussels with the Ukrainian “soldiers of truth”

From the left: Pamela Morinière, Ricardo Gutiérrez, Sergiy Tomilenko and Vsevolod Chentsov at the opening of the exhibition. Credits: Anna Dovha.

A tribute to the 73 journalists (*) who lost their lives during the Russian full scale invasion of Ukraine. That’s how Sergiy Tomilenko, the president of NUJU, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, referred to the photo exhibition Ukraine: journalists in war zones which opened at the Ukrainian Civil Society Hub in Brussels on 17 October. The opening of the display was put on in collaboration with the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). The exhibition will be open every day till the 23 October.

“Let’s honor the fallen journalists with a few moments of silence,” Ricardo Gutiérrez, General Secretary of the EFJ said to the 40 people present at the opening. A video tribute was played in the meantime, showing the names and pictures of the journalists that died when carrying out their journalistic duty, in action as members of the Ukrainian defense forces or as civilian casualties.”Journalists in Ukraine are the most active part of the civil society. They are the brave soldiers of the truth,” Vsevolod Chentsov, Head of the Mission of Ukraine to the European Union, said in his speech. He stressed out that journalistic work in the occupied country is no less important than the military fight against Russia. “Journalists are telling the stories of Ukrainian people. They fight lies and propaganda and are telling true stories about war,” Mr Chentsov said.

The soldiers of the truth are also the authors of the displayed photos, showing touching and meaningful moments on the frontline and in the hinterland. A soldier hugging his wife at the Kramatorsk train station for the last time before leaving for the front. Or the World Press Award winning picture taken by Evgeniy Maloletka showing Iryna Kalinina, an injured pregnant woman, carried from a maternity hospital that was damaged during a Russian airstrike in Mariupol, Ukraine.

No less interesting is the photo, depicting an editor of a local newspaper hugging a woman who just received the first copy of the newspaper printed after the start of Russia’s invasion. One of the main achievements by NUJU is indeed the help provided to local media outlets that were able to start printing and delivering again newspapers to the Ukrainian population. “We helped 29 newsrooms to restart publishing newspapers that are often the only source of information for the Ukrainian population,” Tomylenko stressed out.

Furthermore NUJU, with the help of EFJ, IFJ and Unesco was also able to put on six Journalist’s Solidarity Centers. In the early stages of invasion, they provided shelter for journalists fleeing from the occupied zones. Later on they started distributing to Ukrainian and foreign journalists equipment, such as laptops, helmets and bulletproof vests. Furthermore, they also provided security trainings for war reporters and first aid courses. Journalists were even able to learn how to protect themselves in case of a nuclear disaster at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

As Pamela Morinière, Head of Campaigns and Communications at the IFJ, said, journalists in the Solidarity centers are also able to receive much needed psychological support. “We were impressed by the solidarity we received from members all around the world. A group of Greek journalists drove a van full of help all the way to Ukraine,” she said, while Gutiérrez called on the European Union to contribute to the financing of the network of solidarity centers and the financing of the publication of local newspapers in the liberated areas on the frontline. “The European Union has released millions of euros to support the Ukrainian government’s strategic communication. We call on it to support journalists on the ground too.”

(*) Most of them were killed within the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 15 of them were killed while carrying out their journalistic duties.