On January 27 – 31, 2020, the Academy of Ukrainian Press (further AUP) had an honor to invite representatives of foreign media to participation in the project “Press Tours to Ukraine” which is realized due to the support of Media Development Foundation, the Embassy of the USA to Ukraine.
Top reporters from Latvia, Lithuania, Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus, who work on different media platforms, visited Kyiv and several towns of Donetsk region controlled by Ukrainian government later on. All the series of press tours are aimed to demonstrate the real situation and events taking place in our state, including the eastern part of the country, to foreign reporters; to introduce the perspective vision of national experts in different fields of development and opinion of society on various issues.
Participants of the 4 th press tour in January, 2020 became:
1. Andris Karkluvalks, Delfi, Latvia;
2. Vytautas Bruveris, Lietuvos rytas, Lythuania;
3. Öygür Ekşi, C4Defence Magazine, Turkey;
4. Xenia Tourki, Phileleftheros Publising Group, Republic of Cyprus.
On January 28, 2020, tour participants visited the 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 and occupational administration, newspaper privatization reform, etc. Participants received English language handouts with analytical data and findings on Journalists’ Physical Safety Index.
Then, the journalists spoke to President of NGO “The Academy of Ukrainian Press”, Valeriy Ivanov who emphasized the importance of media education and literacy implementation in Ukrainian education system. Mr. Ivanov also outlined the history of journalism development in independent Ukraine and the current challenges of media outlets in our country. Finally, the reforms in the fields of media development and education were analyzed, and the guests received important information on this matter.
Afterwards, the reporters met with Tetiana Tsyba, MP (Servant of the People party), member of the parliamentary committee on Freedom of Speech. The speaker explained her opinion on the draft law “On Media”, its goals and potential to solve the problems in informational environment. She also mentioned that the procedure of adoption is flexible; the authors are aware of critical remarks regarding self-regulation, and open to any recommendations or proposals.
In the end of the day, the reporters had an interview with Raiisa Yevtushenko, senior expert, Department of Educational Content, Language Policy and National Minorities, Ministry of Education of Ukraine. The speaker told about actively implemented educational reform “New Ukrainian School” providing changes in the whole system of education, from material equipment to approval of new curricula. “One of the New Ukrainian School main goal includes one’s competence development, not just giving knowledge, providing that students can improve their life and practical skills, for example, media literacy, civic competence or human rights”.
On January 29, 2019, journalists and organizers travelled to the east of Ukraine. First of all, we visited new well-known places of military glory around town Kramatorsk. Our local guide, Alexander Kachura showed us the place where Ukrainian soldiers on July 4, 2014 stopped the enemy’s armored column breakthrough. Participants observed the memorial build in honor of fallen fighters. Then, we visited another memorial in honor of Sloviansk liberators. After that, the reporters observed hospital buildings ruined by war.
Then we visited school #22 of Sloviansk Municipal Council in Semenivka (Donetsk region). The school was completely destroyed during the military actions in Spring 2014 and renovated after the town liberation from separatists. Serhii Borysenko, school principal, told about its renewal.
After that, the group of reporters visited Donetsk State Regional Administration in town Kramatorsk, and spoke to its Head, Pavlo Kyrylenko. The governor outlined 3 priorities of regional development: water supply, repair of heavily damaged buildings; temporary housing for the IDPs. The last one is crucially important since the ¼ of IDPs who lost their homes moved to Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Much attention is paid to the movement facilitation through the checkpoints on the administrative lines, recovery of infrastructure, and humanitarian provisions of food, domestic products, clothes to civilians. He also mentioned that the elections on temporarily occupied territories are only possible, when Ukraine gets back the full control over the State border.
In the end of the day, the group of journalists visited village Druzhkivka near Kramatorsk. Military chaplain, (Rev. Fr.) Dionisius showed us the basement rooms where people were detained as captives during the occupation. Anatoliy Vodolazkyi, National Hero of Ukraine, told how he marched in 2014 to the central square of then occupied Druzhkivka with the national flag of Ukraine, was snapped by separatists and taken to the torture chambers. Other witnesses told the journalists about the events taking place during the occupation. Now, it is planned to establish the museum in the premises of former jails and torture rooms of so called “DPR”.
On January 30, 2020, after our arrival to town Mariupol, we visited Azov Shiprepair Yard. 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 have discussed the cooperation with international ship-owners, activity during the war, Kerch Strait blockade, and the situation, when despite of cancellation of huge contracts because of entering risks, the enterprise still provides services to different types of vessels, involves new experts and has industrial potentials.
Then the reporters visited Mariupol multicenter for providing administrative services, where Tetiana Kaminchenko, its vice-Head, told about the crucial importance of digitalized services especially relevant since Mariupol is the first city on the way of internally displaced people. Now people can avoid the long queues and in a short term receive the passport, ids, driver’s licenses, registration of residence and pensions at one place.
After that, we had an excursion around Mariupol Children’s Diagnostic Center under the guidance of Halyna Korovina, vice-chief medical officer. Pleasant looking interior design and modern equipment differentiates the Diagnostic Center from similar institutions funded by the state and local budget. A wide range of medical services, including psychologist and massage therapist, are free of charge for children.
On January 31, 2020, our speakers were Oleksii Godzenko, press secretary of 503 battalion of marine corps and Petro Voityshyn, National Council of Officers Member, 503 battalion of marine corps. The military men told us about the recent situation on the frontline; supply, equipment and the fighting spirit of Ukraine’s Defense Forces; the events of 2014 when there was an attempt of city occupation by separatists, etc.
Then, we visited Mariupol hub school # 66. Natalia Rovytska, school principal, together with the staff of teachers and students, showed guests the modernized classrooms and leisure spaces. The journalists were shown to digital microscopes, computers, tablets, 3d printer, and “sets of young Einstein”. While talking, foreign reporters learnt more about the reform of education in Ukraine that is known as Concept for “New Ukrainian School”.
So, we sincerely hope that foreign participants of the press tour achieved an access to reliable information sources about events and figured out some tendencies in the development of modern Ukraine. With this purpose, the meetings with top representatives of government, media, public sector, education, etc. were organized. We are expecting for more new journalistic materials about Ukraine.
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. Join us! The world has to know the truth and avoid fakes