RSF opens press freedom center in Lviv, delivery of first bulletproof vests

“We came here to express our solidarity with Ukrainian journalists and provide them with the best possible assistance in covering the war,” said RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire.

Accompanied by Oksana Romaniuk, director of the Ukrainian Institute of Mass Information (IMI), and Alexandre Query, coordinator of the center, Deloire described the activities of this now operational hub in western Ukraine.

The first personal protective equipment for journalists has been distributed in recent days with the help of the Berlin network for reporting on Eastern Europe (n-ost) and the Swedish press group Bonnier.

Bonnier collected 30 bulletproof vests and helmets from its various media outlets (Dagens Nyheter, Dagens industri and To express), with the help of the Schibsted Group and the Swedish national broadcaster, Swedish television.

“We will distribute body armor in the hottest spots in the country,” Romaniuk said, referring to violence against journalists covering the war in Ukraine in recent days. Since the beginning of the Russian offensive, at least 12 journalists have been deliberately targeted by armed fighters and four – two reporters from the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet and two members of a crew reporting for the UK Sky News TV – were shot and wounded.

RSF called on the Polish and Ukrainian authorities to facilitate the supply of bulletproof vests to the centre. The circulation of equipment requires specific authorizations which delay their rapid delivery to Ukraine. Deloire also urged democratic countries to issue visas to journalists and called on Russia to respect UN Security Council Resolution 2222 on the protection of journalists.

“We salute the courage of the journalists,” said Query, the center’s coordinator. “With this center we fight for media independence in Ukraine and beyond.” This week, the center will begin providing physical safety and first aid training to journalists attending in person or via videoconference.

RSF thanks the city of Lviv for its hospitality, as well as the Limelight Foundation and the Adessium Foundation in the Netherlands, the Schöpflin Foundation in Germany, the King Baudouin Foundation in Belgium, the Oak Foundation in the United Kingdom, the Fritt Ord Foundation in Norway and Open Society Foundations.

Ukraine is ranked 97th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index, while Russia is ranked 150th.

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