In pursuit of exclusive materials from the hottest spots on the planet, journalists sometimes risk their health and lives. This, of course, is the professional heroism of mass media workers. However, there is another side of the coin, which became relevant, including during the war in Ukraine.
Martial law journalism is an extremely complex thing that has a number of peculiarities. The most important of them is constant cooperation with law enforcement agencies and work under conditions of many restrictions compared to peacetime
Unfortunately, not all journalists understand this. Or they pretend they don’t understand, trying to curry favor with their editors.
During the war in Ukraine, some domestic and foreign journalists were deprived of their accreditation due to violations of the current legislation.
The story of Matilda Kimer
On August 22, Ukraine revoked the accreditation of the correspondent of the Danish public television and radio company DR Matilda Kimer. The punishment was applied due to a violation of current legislation, namely the requirements of the order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces No. 73.
The source of the «Detector Media» publication in the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) noted that the journalist’s arrival in Mykolaiv in July 2022 was the reason for the revocation of accreditation.
«There she ended up in a place where she shouldn’t have been and tried to film a report about a weapon that can’t even be talked about,» says an unnamed employee of the Service. After this incident, the military themselves turned to the SSU with a request to check the journalist. Based on the results of the inspection, the Security Service recommended that the Army’s public relations office revoke Kimer’s accreditation.
The journalist said that she was accused of illegally staying in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and in Crimea, which she categorically denies. At the same time, Kimer confirmed that she was in Mykolaiv in July — «where she shouldn’t have been». At the same time, the journalist claims that she did not film anything, but tried to cover the events in Ukraine objectively.
Politicians and diplomats reacted to the removal of Kimer’s accreditation, and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, at the request of their Danish colleagues, submitted an official request to the Public Relations Department of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
It turned out that it was not only a violation of Order No. 73. The official response indicates that Kimer cooperated with the Ministry of Defense of the aggressor country for a long time: «During the monitoring of the information space on the personal page of Matilda Kimer (the page is open, verified) in the social network «Facebook», a number of her materials were found, which suggest that the journalist had close cooperation with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.
In particular, Matilda Kimer covered the large-scale exercises of the aggressor country «West-2017», «Vostok-2018», and was in the pool of media representatives who visited, at the invitation of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the Russian base and warship in Syria. Also, in 2017, Matilda Kimer was in occupied Donetsk, where she covered the parade of the Russian occupation troops, and in 2016 she visited the occupied Crimean Peninsula.
Despite the international scandal, the journalist’s accreditation was not returned.
Reports from liberated Kherson
Another scandal broke out in November. Then, due to violation of the requirements of the same order No. 73, several film crews lost their accreditation at once: we are talking about CNN and SkyNews, and Hromadske.
The official statement of the General Staff states: «some media representatives, ignoring existing prohibitions and warnings, without the consent of the relevant commanders and public relations services of the military units, carried out information activities in the city of Kherson even before the completion of stabilization measures. Such actions are a gross violation of the requirements of the order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine No. 73 dated 03.03.2022, as well as the relevant orders of the military command.»
Ukrainian and foreign journalists expressed their categorical disagreement with such a decision and called for an internal investigation into the activities of the communication department of Operational Command «South». Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets also spoke in support of media workers.
After considerable pressure, the journalists’ accreditations were renewed, but with the caveat that after the next violation, they will be canceled again without the possibility of reviewing such a decision.
One of the most high-profile cases happened on April 3, 2022, when the Dutch journalist Robert Dulmers was expelled from Ukraine and banned from visiting our country for three years.
The SSU commented on the decision as follows: «During his stay in Odesa, on April 3, 2022, Robert Dulmers, contrary to the norms of the current legislation regarding the ban on disseminating information about the results of missile attacks by the Russian Federation (he was informed before receiving the press card), posted a video on his personal public detonation of critical infrastructure facilities in Odesa and the region by enemy missile strikes».
It is worth noting that in the comments to the «arrivals» video, one of the contributors pointed out to Dulmers the illegality of his actions due to the possibility of further adjustment of enemy attacks. «I do not accept these words» answered the journalist briefly.
The entire communication sector of the Defense Forces of Ukraine needs to improve interactions with the mass media in some areas. At the same time, journalists should be more responsible for the implementation of current legislation in wartime conditions.
Media workers must understand that every conscious or unconscious step they take can have serious consequences. In addition, we should not rule out the possibility that enemy agents can cover themselves with a journalist’s license. Therefore, if we all strive for the victory of the civilized world over the barbarians, then we need to focus not on our local professional goals, but on our common goal, the corresponding requirements for journalists.