Ukrainian journalist Bogdan Bitik, 46, was killed in a Russian attack in Kherson, on Ukraine’s southern front, last Wednesday. Bitik worked as an assistant and interpreter for the special envoy of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Corrado Zunino, who was wounded in the shoulder by a Russian sniper. The journalists were at the western end of the Antonivki bridge, an impassable infrastructure due to the explosions it has suffered. La Repubblica states that Bitik and Zunino passed three Ukrainian military checkpoints before reaching the end of the bridge without being told by any military that the place could not be accessed. However, the Center for Strategic Communication, an agency of the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, ensures that the army did warn them that they could not advance, but they ignored it.
Bitik is the ninth journalist to die during the conflict that began in February 2022, all of them due to actions by the Russian army, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). In addition, there are five missing communicators and nine prisoners. The vast majority of the victims are Ukrainian. The Kherson front has been at a standstill since last fall, with a level of military confrontation much lower than that of the war front in eastern Donetsk province. Russia regularly shells the city of Kherson, and Ukraine has stepped up surprise landings across the Dnieper River in recent weeks to test out Russian defense forces.
Bitik was a kitesurf teacher in Indonesia before the war, and his dream was to teach it again, according to what Corrado Zunino told his newspaper, La Repubblica. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has added in a statement that it is not clear if Bitik was wearing the bulletproof vest and helmet. At points closest to the front, Ukrainian officials have on more than one occasion demanded that journalists remove press badges from their vests, as the Russians consider reporters to be military targets as well.
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