The journalists we lost in Ukraine

We remember the work of the brave and talented journalists who lost their lives while documenting the Russian invasion
Oksana Baulina, Oleksandra Kuvshynova, Pierre Zakrzewski and Yevhenii Sakun. 

Oksana Baulina, Oleksandra Kuvshynova, Pierre Zakrzewski and Yevhenii Sakun.

This piece remembers the journalists who have been killed while doing their job during the war in Ukraine along with civilians and volunteers. They were reporting, filming and photographing the events of the war. They were war correspondents, local producers, photojournalists and videojournalists. Here are brief profiles of each of these journalists, with links to their work before and during the war.

Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff looks at the camera, his expression is serious.
Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff. | BFMTV

Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff

French journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff was killed after an evacuation car was hit on May 30. He died near Sievierodonetsk, one of the last Ukrainian-held cities in the country’s eastern Luhansk region and the focus of heavy fighting in late May. According to French newspaper Le Parisien, he was 32 years old.

Leclerc-Imhoff worked for French cable channel BFM TV and also freelanced as a videographer, editor and reporter. As well as BFM TV, he'd also worked for FranceTV as an image reporter, covering news, politics, social issues and climate for the TV channels. Between 2014 and 2018, Leclerc-Imhoff worked as an editor at production company Agence CAPA, where he edited short and long-form video, including documentaries.

According to Luhansk's regional governnor Serhiy Gaidai, as quoted by the Guardian, Leclerc-Imhoff was covering the civilian evacuation of Sievierodonetsk when the armoured evacuation vehicle he was in came under attack. Gaidai said that Leclerc-Imhoff suffered a fatal neck wound from shrapnel that pierced the car.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: "Journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff was in Ukraine to show the reality of war. On board of a humanitarian bus, at the side of civilians forced to flee to escape Russian bombs, he was fatally struck."

Roman Nezhyborets smiles at the camera, pictured outdoors wearing a black jacket.
Roman Nezhyborets. | CPJ

Roman Nezhyborets

Ukrainian film technician Roman Nezhyborets was found dead in a grave in Yahidne, a village in northern Ukraine, on April 6.

Nezhyborets worked as a video editor in Chernihiv for the privately owned TV broadcaster Dytynets until the start of the invasion. On February 24, he left the city for Yahidne with his family. According to local sources, he attempted to hide evidence of his work with Dytynets and called his mother to ask that friends and colleagues remove him from group chats. Dytynets director Tatyana Zdor told CPJ that Russian troops caught Nezhyborets talking on the phone with his mother on 5 March and took him away. His family believes he died between March 5 and March 9. According to Zdor and Dytynets, Nezhyborets' body was found with gunshot wounds to his knees and his hands tied.

Zoreslav Zamoysky looks intently at the camera, pictured outdoors.
Zoreslav Zamoysky. | FRONT NEWS UKRAINE

Zoreslav Zamoysky

Zoreslav Zamoysky was a Ukrainian freelance journalist. He was found dead on a street in Bucha in early April.

Zamoysky covered the activities of local authorities in the region around Bucha and Irpin for the news website Hromada Priirpinnya and other outlets, the site's founder Iryna Fedorov said. He also documented his experiences of the war on his Facebook page. Zamoysky's last post was published on 4 March. The commuter town of Bucha has become synonymous with atrocities against civilians as evidence of widespread brutality and killings by the Russian army is uncovered after its withdrawal away from the Kyiv region. 

 

Mantas Kvedaravičius looks at the camera with a serious expression, image is black and white
Mantas Kvedaravičius. | INTERNATIONAL FILM CRITICS' WEEK

Mantas Kvedaravičius

Lithuanian documentary filmmaker, anthropologist and archeologist Mantas Kvedaravičius was killed in Mariupol on 2 April 2022, according to the Ukrainian Defence Ministry. He leaves behind his wife and two children. Kvedaravičius was 45.

He was well-known for directing "Mariupolis", a 2016 documentary about daily life amid conflict in Mariupol, as eastern Ukraine witnessed fighting between Russian-backed separatists and national forces. Kvedaravičius had returned to Mariupol shortly after the 2022 invasion began and was directing a second documentary about the city when he was killed. Mariupol has now been under siege by Russian forces for several weeks. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said he believes tens of thousands of people have died there since the beginning of the all-out invasion on February 24. 

Kvedaravičius was born on 23 June 1976 in what is now Lithuania. He held a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge and was an associate professor at Vilnius University.  Among his most-celebrated films is "Barzakh", a documentary covertly filmed in Chechnya after an 8-year insurgency in the early 2000s was brutally crushed by Russia. The film won the Amnesty International Film Prize in 2011. Kvedaravičius had recently expanded into fiction, with his first fiction feature, "Parthenon", premiering in 2019. Before returning to Ukraine, Kvedaravičius had been shooting a new fiction feature film in Uganda.

Speaking about "Barzakh," Germany's deputy secretary general of Amnesty International, Julia Duchrow, said: "Mantas Kvedaravičius has shown great courage for this: The film was shot without permission and at great personal risk. This courage, this unconditional will to show human rights violations and make them accessible to the public, distinguished Mantas Kvedaravičius."

Producer Giedre Zickyte said: "Some people in their grief are asking why Mantas went back. Knowing Mantas and how he was connected to his characters, and his great, true soul, I imagine he couldn’t stay away from this tragedy. Mariupol was so dear to him. He was never afraid of anything. He would always go wherever he felt he needed to go, and now we’ve lost him."

Maks Levin. | Credit: Evgeniy Datsenko
Maks Levin. | EVGENIY DATSENKO 

Maks Levin

Ukrainian photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Maks Levin was found dead in the Kyiv region on 1 April 2022. He had gone missing on 13 March while documenting hostilities near the village of Huta-Mezhyhirska. Levin leaves behind his partner, 4 children and elderly parents. He was 41. 

A few days before he went missing, Levin’s ex-wife Inna Varenytsia told the Committee to Protect Journalists that Ukrainian forces had granted him permission to report from that area. She said his phone last appeared online at 11:23 a.m. on the day he disappeared. Soldiers with the Russian 106th Airborne Division were fighting in the area at that time. 

Levin was born on 7 July 7 1981 in the Kyiv region. He studied computer engineering, but he dreamed of becoming a photographer from the age of 15. He worked for Ukrainian news site LB.ua. and collaborated with Reuters, BBC and the Associated Press. His pictures have been published by global news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, TIME and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). In addition of his journalistic work, Levin created dozens of photo and video projects for humanitarian organisations like WHO, UNICEF, OSCE and UN Women.

Levin first came to conflict photography during the Maidan Revolution in 2013, and he went on to cover the annexation of Crimea and the occupation of the Donbass region.

“I never wanted to be a war photographer,” he said in an interview with Anna Akage for the website LensCulture. “When the war in Georgia started, lots of famous war photographers from Ukraine and Russia rushed over there to make stories. But I thought, 'That has nothing to do with me, why should I go there and risk my life?' These photographers have shot war for years, all over the world, but nothing really changes…war goes on. But when war came to Ukraine, it was not a matter of choice anymore—I became a war photographer.”

In 2014 he survived the battle of Ilovaisk, in which Russian and separatist forces took this city from the Ukrainian army. Together with his friend and colleague Markiyan Lyseyko, he established the documentary project After Ilovaisk to collect photos, videos, and audio recordings of the fighters and volunteers who died in the city.

“War influenced my understanding of the photographic profession,” Levin said in his interview with Anna Akage. “I cannot understand why 50 reporters are shooting the same political stand-up show, the same mindless press conferences, when there are so many social themes of vital importance that are waiting to be shown. They end to blind themselves fighting for the next scoop. Meanwhile, they are avoiding complicated but important themes that deserve long-term attention.”

Oksana Baulina smiles at the camera
Oksana Baulina. | THE INSIDER

Oksana Baulina

Russian journalist Oksana Baulina, 42,  was killed by a rocket strike while on assignment in Kyiv on 23 March, according to her employer, independent news site The Insider. This picture from Spanish photographer Ricardo García Vilanova suggests Oksana may have been the victim of a targeted attack. 

Early in her career, Baulina worked for lifestyle magazines such as Time Out Moscow and In Style. In 2013, she left the sector for a lower-paying job as a producer for Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. She left Russia after the foundation was declared illegal by Vladímir Putin’s regime. Navalny saluted her work in this Twitter thread.

Before the war, Baulina reported on corruption and activism in Russia for Russian investigative outlet The Insider. She was also a producer for online news outlet Coda Story’s documentary series Generation Gulag. The Russian name she chose for the series translates to: ‘The Repressions Don’t End.’ 

After the invasion began, Baulina reported from Kyiv and Lviv for The Insider before she was killed while filming damage to a shopping centre in Kyiv. Her last dispatch from Kyiv reports on the position of the Russian army outside the city and on the Ukrainian forces’ efforts to cut off their fuel and ammunition supply. Her colleague Alexey Kovalev remembered her work in these tweets.

Oleksandra Kuvshynova looks over her shoulder, laughing
Oleksandra Kuvshynova. | INSTAGRAM FUSION

Oleksandra Kuvshynova

Oleksandra Kuvshynova, also known as Sasha, was a 24-year-old Ukrainian journalist, producer and creative. Before the war, she had worked as a photographer as well as a DJ. She wrote poetry and founded a jazz festival.

Former colleague Akim Karpach told CNN, "She did everything to the fullest — she was 100% immersed into every friendship, hobby, job, etc. She was never indifferent. She loved every day of her life and was happy every time I saw her."

When the war broke out, Sasha founded an organisation to coordinate volunteers delivering humanitarian aid. She was working with a Fox News team covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when she was killed on 14 March near Kyiv. 

Fox News senior field producer Yonat Friling said: "She kept talking about what's going to happen after the war ends, how beautiful Kyiv is and how we are going to go and walk around, go and have coffee, go listen to music, the arts, everything that she adored and wanted. I think that’s part of the tragedy. The people of Ukraine have so many plans, then within a brief moment, Russians invaded and the war started, and many of them such as Sasha and other young people lost their lives."

Pierre Zakrzewski takes a selfie with three colleagues in press bulletproof vests
Pierre Zakrzewski. | FOX NEWS

Pierre Zakrzewski

Pierre Zakrzewski, also known as Zak, was a 55-year-old Irish cameraman and photojournalist working for US broadcaster Fox News. He was killed along with his colleague Sasha as their vehicle was struck by gunfire outside Kyiv on 14 March. With them was Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall, who was severely injured during the attack. 

Zak had a passion for travel, photography and videography. His colleagues remember Zakrzewski as a multitalented journalist, shooting video, fixing equipment, producing and editing pieces. He had previously worked in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Fox News correspondent Steve Harrigan said: “He had so much joy. He was a guy who went to horrible places but never lost that childlike joy.”

Zakrzewski’s family said in a statement: “He touched so many people's lives, he will never be forgotten and his legacy will live on.”

Brent Renaud smiles
Brent Renaud. | NIEMAN FOUNDATION

Brent Renaud

Born in Memphis in 1971, Brent Renaud was an American journalist, documentary filmmaker, and photojournalist. He worked with his brother Craig to produce films, aired on major outlets, and was a former contributor to the New York Times

Brent and Craig’s films focused on humanitarian issues across the world, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, drug addiction in the US and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In 2005, they filmed Off to War, a documentary series about Arkansas National Guard reservists going to fight in Iraq. In 2017, they released Meth Storm, a documentary about drug addiction in rural America. These works were widely acclaimed and won many awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award for the VICE series Last Chance High, two DuPont Awards, two Overseas Press Club Awards, and multiple Emmy nominations.

Brent and Craig also founded the Little Rock Film Festival and the Arkansas Motion Picture Institute. From August 2018 to May 2019, Brent was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Nieman Foundation curator Anne Marie Lipinski said: “He was one of the kindest humans I’ve ever met. He was generous, a little bit shy, and I think that helped him make a very compelling figure out in the field. He didn’t come at you, he waited for you to come to him. He was genuinely interested in everybody and in their stories.”

According to the Ukrainian army, Renaud was killed by Russian soldiers as he documented the invasion of Ukraine in Irpin, near Kyiv on 13 March. He was working on a documentary for Time Studios focusing in part on refugees fleeing Ukraine. His colleague Juan Arredondo, also a former Nieman fellow, was injured in the attack.

 

Yevhenii Sakun

Yevhenii Sakun, 49, was a cameraman for the Ukrainian television channel LIVE. He had also worked for the Spanish news agency EFE, covering the war, as well as politics, business, and culture.

Sakun was killed on 1 March 2022 in Kyiv as a result of the bombing of the TV transmission tower in Kyiv by the Russian military. Head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine Sergiy Tomilenko told the Committee to Protect Journalists that Yevhenii was working at the time of the attack.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "We are deeply saddened by the death of our colleague Yevhenii Sakun, killed in a reckless Russian attack on a civilian infrastructure in Kiev. All parties to the conflict must protect local and international journalists and stop targeting media workers who are risking their life to inform the world about the war."

Shakirov Dilerbek Shukurovych

Shakirov Dilerbek Shukurovych was a journalist for the information weekly Around You

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said Shukurovych was shot from a car with an automatic weapon on 26 February near the village of Zelenivka in the south of Ukraine.