Russian Journalist Is At Least the Fifth Reporter to Die Covering the War in Ukraine

From a Washington Post story by Meryl Kornfield and Brittany Shammas hedlined “‘Amazingly brave’ Russian journalist is at least the fifth reporter to die covering the war in Ukraine”:

A correspondent with a Russian news outlet was killed while reporting on shelling in Kyiv, her outlet said, marking at least the fifth journalist to die covering the war in Ukraine.

Oksana Baulina died while filming the destruction from Russian shelling of a district within the Ukrainian capital, the Insider, an independent Russian news site, confirmed Wednesday, leading to an outpouring from other journalists who spoke of Baulina’s persistence and selflessness.

Baulina was “an amazingly brave Russian journalist,” tweeted Christo Grozev, an investigative reporter at Bellingcat, adding that she was “killed by her own country’s army shelling civilian areas in the Podol district in Kyiv.”

There are few details about the strike that the Insider said killed the journalist: Her outlet said that a civilian also was killed, and that two others who accompanied Baulina were injured and hospitalized.

Baulina previously worked as a producer for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which was founded by Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The organization was declared “extremist” last summer by a Moscow court, and Baulina “had to leave Russia in order to continue reporting on Russian government corruption for The Insider,” the news site said.

As a war correspondent in Ukraine, she filed reports from Lviv and Kyiv, sharing her last update shortly before her death about Russian forces closing in on Kyiv.

“The Insider expresses its deepest condolences to Oksana’s family and friends,” the outlet said. “We will continue to cover the war in Ukraine, including such Russian war crimes as indiscriminate shelling of residential areas which result in the deaths of civilians and journalists.”

Before Baulina’s death was reported, the Committee to Protect Journalists had counted four journalists killed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

Yevhenii Sakun, a camera operator for the Ukrainian station LIVE, was killed March 1 in Russian shelling. Brent Renaud, a documentary filmmaker, was fatally shot March 13 while working for Time magazine. And Oleksandra Kuvshynova and Pierre Zakrzewski, who were on assignment for Fox News, were killed when their vehicle was struck by incoming fire.

Several others have gone missing or been detained, the journalists’ committee said.

Before Baulina got involved with political activism, she worked at Time Out Moscow, InStyle Russia and Glamour, said Alexey Kovalyov, a former co-worker and friend. When they first met, Kovalyov remembered that Baulina asked about covering a biking trip for Time Out Moscow. He chuckled at the suggestion, Kovalyov later recalled.

“What would this girl with her flashy makeup and her impossibly tall stilettos know about biking?” he said. “Only later I’d found out that Oksana was a lot more resilient, both physically and morally, than I could ever be. Always putting others first, often at her own [risk].”

A few weeks ago, as Kovalyov planned logistics for another reporter traveling to Kyiv, Baulina, then in Warsaw, focused on arranging a handoff of a flak jacket and helmet for a colleague already on the ground.

“She was an incredible human being in so many respects,” Kovalyov said. “The most reliable person I’ve known, both personally and professionally.”

Michael Elgort had just talked to Baulina at least a day before her death, when she had left Lviv for Kyiv. She gave Elgort advice for his relatives evacuating Odessa to escape to Prague.

Baulina didn’t mention concerns about her safety during their last conversation, Elgort recalled. Instead, she sent a meme about how difficult the year had been.

“She was joking as she always did,” Elgort said.

“Oksana was one of the most positive and humorous people I have ever met,” he added, “with a lot of self-irony. I know it’s a cliche, but she was truly special.”

In a voice message shared hours before her death, Oksana told a friend she was in Kyiv, staying in an apartment on the corner of Independence Square, where she heard the thunder of the Ukrainian air defense counteracting Russian attacks. She said she had no hot water and a bit of food she scrounged up before curfew. She described the wreckage she witnessed from a rocket hitting a residential building.

“The glass fell out and left an enormous crater,” she said. “And at night, as you know, they bombed a mall in the Podolsk district.”

She said Kyiv’s streets — speckled with metal, concrete barricades and sandbags — were empty of civilians or cars.

“To tell you the truth,” she continued, “even on Sunday and Monday when we could still walk outside, I didn’t risk filming in the streets even once.”

Meryl Kornfield is a staff writer on the general assignment desk of The Washington Post.

Brittany Shammas is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Before joining The Post in 2019, she spent eight years writing for newspapers in Florida, including the Miami New Times and the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

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