On February 26 – March 02, 2019, the Academy of Ukrainian Press (further AUP) had an honor to invite representatives of foreign media to participation in the project “Ukraine Press Tours” which is realized due to the support of Media Development Foundation, the Embassy of the USA to Ukraine. Top reporters from Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Montenegro and Turkey who work on different media platforms visited Kyiv, and several towns of Donetsk and Luhansk regions later on.
All the series of press tours are aimed to show foreign journalists the real situation in Ukraine and in the east of the country, as well as to introduce the perspective expert vision and opinion of society on various issues. A 5-day program was quite intensive and provided such an opportunity.
Participants of the forth press tour became:
Marko Vešović, international reporter, newspaper Dan, Montenegro;
Mustafa Kırıkçıoğlu, international reporter, newspaper Sabah, Turkey;
Marcin Żyła, deputy editor-in-chief, Tygodnik Powszechny, Poland;
Loretta Tóth, international reporter, newspaper Magyar Idők, Hungary;
Viktorija Puškele, online media correspondent, TvNet, Latvia.
On February 26 2019, we visited the editorial office of “Dzerkalo Tyzhnia” (Weekly Mirror) newspaper and Serhii Rakhmanin, deputy editor-in-chief. The speaker told about history of newspaper founding and its activity, principles and values of the team, the ways of countering pressure from public officials, as well as on professional coverage of election campaigns.
Afterwards, the group visited National Union of Journalists. Serhii Tomilenko, its Head, outlined the freedom of expression issues, the ways of countering impunity among Ukrainian authorities, illegal detainment and persecution of Ukrainian reporters by the Russian Federation, newspaper privatization reform, etc. His
colleague, Lina Kushch, the First Secretary, National Union of Journalists, introduced our guests the photos of exhibition “Reporters at Euromaidan. 5 years ago”, and told about Ukrainian correspondents who covered the events. Besides that, the participants had an opportunity to look through the English language books “Veremii Viacheslav. Reporter’s True Life” and “Crimean Reportage. Chronicles of Crimean Occupation 2014-2016”, and learned about the colleagues who suffered during the Revolution of Dignity and occupation of Crimea.
On the same day we had a meeting with Oleksandr Levchenko, Advisor to the Minister of Temporarily Occupied Territories, Ex-Ambassador of Ukraine to Croatia as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina (2010-2017). In the building of Ministry, the Advisor told our press-tour participants about the real situation on the occupied territories and represented a set of activities that should be done to solve the conflict issues. Also, all the present could discuss the peculiarities of international affairs development with Ukraine. In particular, Mr. Levchenko mentioned: “We are very thankful to the European countries for solidarity, because all those who supported the package of sanctions felt some economic losses. But Ukraine also suffered a lot. However, if we follow the principles of solidarity, this will make a strong pressure on the policy of Moscow. We are aware of impossibility to confront in open war with Russia, however, political, diplomatic, economic and media pressure made by multiple countries can lead to certain results”.
Then, the participants became guests at studio of Hromadske Radio. They spoke there to Kyrylo Lukerenko, executive director of Hromadske Radio. During the meeting, foreign reporters learned about the history of media and media business development in Ukraine, as well as heard about the number of successful projects realized by Hromadske Radio and the perspectives of radio broadcasting in general. Mr. Lukerenko told: “Hromadske Radio is functioning on the base of radio station and website containing news and podcasts. Since we have been an NGO and much dependent on funding the programs, the number of staff is changing from time to time. Currently, we are employing 50 correspondents, managers, and technical workers. When we have enough support, we can involve up to 150 team members. All of them provide 24 hours of radio broadcast”.
Afterwards, we had a meeting with Oleksii Matsuka, Head, Donetsk Institute of Information, who explained the guests how various media in Ukraine are covering the situation in Donbas; how the events were running in Donbas during the Euromaidan and before the war; and what reporters should keep in mind before going to the East.
On February 27, 2019 journalists and organizers travelled to the east of Ukraine. First of all, we visited school #22 of Sloviansk Municipal Council in Semenivka (Donetsk region). The school was completely destroyed during the military actions and renovated after the liberation of the towns from rebels. Serhii Borysenko, school principal told about its renewal.
Then, foreign reporters met with representatives of crisis media center “Siverskyi Donets” in town Severodonetsk (Luhansk region). Olena Nyzhelska, its Head, outlined the history of media center foundation after the liberation of the town from militants as the initiative of active citizens, not indifferent to their town development, and free platform for expressions. Oleh Nevenytsia, team-worker, mentioned that they are executively informing citizens on the emergency events and keeping in touch with the national police. Arif Bagirov, civic activist and blogger answered the questions on how the town lived before, during the occupation and after its liberation from militants. Semen Pertsovskyi, regional correspondent of “Weekly Mirror” newspaper, honorary journalist of Ukraine, shared with his experience of covering regional news and told about the latest news in the town. Viacheslav Shevchuk, ATO participant, Ukraine’s Defense Forces member, told about the events at war, the role of volunteers, vision of the militaries on what is going on in Ukraine.
On February 28 – March 01, 2019 participants visited Mariupol shipyards. While talking to Larysa Konieva, Press Service Head, we were convinced that not only quality ship repair is taking place here, but they also have all the possibilities to build new vessels. We discussed the cooperation with international ship-owners,
activity during the war, Kerch Strait blockade, providing service to different types of vessels, engagement of experts and industrial potentials.
Afterwards, foreign reporters visited Mariupol State University, the President of which, Kostiantyn Balabanov, warmly welcomed us and told many success stories of this educational establishment. The guests could see an example of classic university development in a town not being regional center. Svitlana Beschetnikova, dean of Philology Faculty, also told the guests about international programs, learning foreign languages and opportunities for international students.
On March 02, 2019 the group of foreign journalists had an excursion around Kyiv. They visited St. Sophia and St. Michael Square, St. Andrew Rampart, Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti), observed a lot of other historic and sightseeing places.
Due to the intensive and balanced visit program, we enabled to achieve the main goals: provide foreign reporters with the reliable information sources, tendencies of development in Ukraine. The reporters met eminent newsmakers and opinion leaders. We do not doubt that the number and quality of reportages about Ukraine will increase on the guests’ return.
The Academy of Ukrainian Press with the support of Media Development Foundation, Embassy of the USA to Ukraine, is involved in ultimately efficient and trustworthy informing of the foreign colleagues on events in Ukraine. Let you join us! The world has to know the truth and avoid fakes.