The International Press Institute (IPI) has now documented more than 700 attacks on journalists, acts of censorship and serious violations of media freedom since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.
The data from IPI’s Ukraine War Press Freedom Tracker underscores the devastating toll the conflict has already taken on independent journalism, media freedom and the safety of journalists in both countries.
In Ukraine, eight journalists and media workers, both Ukrainian reporters and international correspondents, are confirmed to have been killed in the line of duty or because of their journalistic profession during this time.
They are: Yevheniy Sakun, Brent Renaud, Pierre Zakrzewski, Oleksandra Kuvshynova, Oksana Baulina, Maks Levin, Mantas Kvedaravičius and Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff. Five were killed by gunfire, while the other three were killed by shelling.
There is evidence at least five more Ukrainian media workers and citizen journalists may have been killed or executed by Russian troops in occupied territory in apparent connection to their profession, though these have not yet been verified and the motive remains unclear.
Such a loss of journalistic life within Europe has been unknown for decades and created a dark cloud over the wider landscape for media freedom. As the war drags on and with no end to hostilities in sight, Ukrainian media continue to adapt to a challenging new economic reality while also navigating the multiple challenges posed by information warfare.
In Russia, the Kremlin has moved to wipe out all remaining sources of independent news and tighten its grip over the media ecosystem through the passing of draconian laws and widespread regulatory censorship.
Independent war reporting has been criminalized, with journalists facing fines and prison sentences for discrediting the Russian armed forces or spreading false information about Russian armed forces’ actions. Those reporting on anti-war protests continue to be detained.
Almost all of the last major bastions of independent news such as Novaya Gazeta and Ekho Moskvy have been blocked and shut down. The smaller independent outlets that remain face threats of criminal persecution and administrative harassment.