#OnTheFrontlineOfTruth – an exhibition of photographs by Ukrainian journalists at war – has opened at the Vilnius Railway Station. The exhibit highlights the crimes committed by the Russian Federation against media and journalists and pays tribute to Ukrainian journalists working in extremely dangerous conditions. The exhibition is organized by Ukrainian civil society organization Institute of Mass Information and international media development organization Internews with support from Lithuanian Press Photographers Club. Lithuanian Railways has provided space for the exhibition free of charge.
Since the full-scale invasion of their country, Ukrainian journalists have turned into war reporters, providing lifesaving information about personal safety and the location of shelters. Journalists shared over 200 photos with the Institute of Mass Information about their work across Ukraine. Thirty of these pictures have been chosen for display at the exhibition in Vilnius, the second organized outside Ukraine. The first one was hosted by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, in June 2022.
“These impressive photos show the result of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and the conditions Ukrainian journalists face every day. In Ukraine, the number of reporters killed in Russian attacks continues to grow. These actions of Russia are war crimes, and we must do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to justice,” said head of the Institute of Mass Information, Oksana Romaniuk.
The Institute of Mass Information, a Ukrainian organization protecting freedom of speech and journalists’ rights, and a long-term partner of Internews, has been monitoring and recording evidence of crimes against journalists and media. It has reported that Russian troops have committed over 428 crimes against media workers and companies in the first five months of the invasion. Since February, 38 reporters have been killed, eight of them while carrying out reporting duties; 14 journalists were injured; 15 are missing; nine were taken hostage and assaulted by Russian forces. The war has caused the closure of 215 media outlets due to threats from Russian occupying forces, seizure of newsrooms, inability to work under temporary occupation, as well as the financial crisis caused by the war.
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, the Institute of Mass Information and Internews have been working hard to protect independent reporters and media in Ukraine by providing safety equipment, first aid kits, and digital security technology. Local journalists have received training in ethical war reporting, physical safety, tactical first aid, and cybersecurity, as well as access to support to remain financially sustainable. These efforts are paramount to maintaining the flow of accurate information that saves lives, debunks disinformation, and holds perpetrators of violence to account.
Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Lithuania Petro Beshta expressed solidarity with Ukrainian reporters. He said: “These photos show how vitally important it is to support the work of journalists who are risking their lives on the frontlines, struggling to document the war, striving to keep their communities informed. They are combating dictatorship and tyranny, which aim to silence media and exterminate independent journalism.”
The photos show the brutality of wartime, including military attacks on civilian infrastructure and peaceful civilians. Russian troops are using heavy weapons and munitions, aiming to kill civilians indiscriminately on a large scale. “These pictures have a special value, because they record the role of journalists in war, their emotions, and their resilience in such difficult situations,” said Natalia Lihachova, head of Ukrainian non-government and media watchdog organization Detector Media at the opening ceremony.
The photos were provided to Institute of Mass Information by journalists Oleksandr Medvediev, Viacheslav Rayinskyi, Stas Kozliuk, Slava Mavrychev, Maria Malevska, Stas Yurchenko, Bohdan Kutiepov, Oleksandr Khomenko, Serhii Nuzhnenko, Alina Klymenko, Nikoletta Stoianova, Andrii Kramchenkov, Mstyslav Chernov, Vlad Musiienko, and Nathan Vander Klipp.
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