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Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
How Were Two Russian Journalists Killed On June 16th
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On Monday we carried the tragic news of the two Russian journalists who were killed while covering events near Lugansk. Today, however, there are questions about why those journalists were so close to the front lines -- and whether they should have been in Ukraine at all.

On our Russia liveblog, we have posted translations of a story that originally was published in Radio Svoboda, the Russian-language service of the US-funded Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe. The story suggests that Rossiya 24 may have sent journalists who actually worked on children's programming into a war zone without the proper training, or even or even made flak jackets mandatory when embedded with separatists. The journalists at one point are seen at a checkpoint, even hiding under armored vehicles which would have been a legitimate military target for Ukraine's forces. Furthermore, they were killed by shelling, so there is no indication that the Ukrainian military could see them in order to identify them as members of the press.

Below is an excerpt from our Russia liveblog. The entire entry can be read here:

Rykovtseva asks whether Kornelyuk was given training on how to conduct himself in a war zone and notes: “On that tragic day, the Rossiya camera crew went out to this dangerous area under shelling without bullet-proof vests and without helmets.”

Oleg Shishkin, special correspondent for Channel One, describes it as follows: ‘Usually he would go out to a shoot in a bullet-proof vest and helmet, but this time, the journalists decided to leave them in the hotel. They said that there was just a little work, and they would quickly return.”

Rykovtseva discounts the idea — now being flogged heavily by and other channels – that even had he been wearing the helmet with the “TV” on it that it would have been visible; it wasn’t on a jacket (many reporters in Ukraine have been wearing large, loose yellow or other bright-colored vests with PRESS stamped on them). Rossiya 24 has broadcast that the Ukrainian National Guard took deliberate aim at them, but Rykovtseva found that even Kornelyuk’s own colleagues who sympathize with the separatists think this is nonsense. The video taken by his own cameraman from the scene shows that a mortar that had landed unexploded suddenly began smoking and went off — and that — not reporters without helemts or flak jackets or visible markings — seemed to have attracted additional fire.

The Russian media appears to be asking the same questions. Also on our Russia liveblog, we carry a report that the Union of Journalists of Russia, a Russian-wide civic organization devoted to promoting journalists’ rights, issued a statement 18 June after the killing of Rossiya 24 journalist Igor Kornelyuk and his sound engineer Anton Voloshin.

The Interpreter has translated an excerpt, which can be read here.