New content partners of Rossiyskaya Gazeta worked with a watering can and a notepad, or even a machine gun on the fronts of the Northern Military District

But there haven’t been any yet. These days, 44 media outlets of the Luhansk People’s Republic – television channels, radio channels and 30 newspapers – have become partners of Rossiyskaya Gazeta. This is where the phrase “our regiment has arrived” comes in: the employees of these publications worked on the fronts of Donbass for nine years, just like in the song: “With a watering can and a notebook, or even with a machine gun.” Dozens of journalists volunteered to go to the front.

– When a special military operation was announced, 28 of our guys went into military service – a third of the male team, – Elena Prasolova, general director of the state television and radio company of the Luhansk Republic, tells Rossiyskaya Gazeta. – Reporters, mechanics, drivers, operators adequately defended our land. There are dead. Among them is Alexander Mosin, director – he was a wonderful husband, father and professional of the highest level.

Andrei Krasnyanskoy, operator, he was killed in the first months of a special military operation. Also, Igor Strizhak. He was an engineer both by education and position, but he dreamed of being a director and went to study. When the military operation began, he went to the front without hesitation, only he was afraid of when he would now be able to finish the directing department at our specialized university, the Matusovsky Academy. I dreamed of getting this additional specialty. Didn’t get it… Reliable guys, the backbone of the TV channel, talents died defending our land.

Photo: Vladimir Ladny

– Usually they argue whether a journalist should take up arms?

– A journalist shouldn’t. But we have a special situation, and when the enemy shelled our cities, the journalists put aside their “watering can and notebook” and went into battle like soldiers. And they died like soldiers. While the cannons are firing, the muses are silent. Our journalists and cameramen are all young, – continues Elena Yurievna. – And everyone is fired upon: in our editorial office there is no status of a war correspondent, everyone goes to the front line. Without weapons, but in helmets and body armor. My first deputy, Yevgeny Murylev, often takes responsibility for himself and, without substituting anyone, goes to hot spots himself. Similarly, Ilya Malakhov, director of a creative association … In Russia, there is a very ambiguous perception of our territories. But we are in this war for the ninth year. You can call it whatever you like – both hybrid and civilian, and you can argue about it, but we are at war. And today’s fights – it hurts, but it’s a courageous decision. Because it would have happened anyway. We see how they are trying to strangle the Russian world, and in any case we must fight back. If it weren’t for Russia’s help, it would have been just scorched earth here … At the beginning of 2014, I wanted to cry from not understanding what was happening, our own government fired at our own people, and when Russian tanks came to our aid from Izvarino, what a joy it was!

What the new content partners of RG have not gone through – battles, shelling, captivity, injuries, years of danger and uncertainty.

The journalists of “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” also have something to learn from them: when you get to know them, you won’t dare to say later that you are tired of your usual work.

– It’s very difficult, we lost many professionals, someone left, someone died, – Tatyana Kutya, director of the Luganmedia holding, tells us. – Many correspondents work for three or four people: for their own newspaper, and even write to neighboring regions, where people have left completely. In 1914, when heavy fighting was going on here, more than half became refugees. Someone then returned, then left again, unable to withstand the difficulties and dangers. There are not enough personnel, but our guys are so diligent and responsible – they work in conditions that are simply unrealistic, when there is no light, no Internet. They understand everything, all these years our journalists and technical staff went to the militia. And now they are volunteering. Two have already died at the front – we wanted to carry their photographs in the procession of the immortal regiment, but it was canceled again for security reasons, and now their portraits are on our editorial bus.

There are not so many “living” print publications left – now 29 surviving newspapers representing their municipalities have been united into a holding, – Tatyana Yuryevna tells me. – The front-line regions are having a very difficult time … The publication of a newspaper in Lisichansk, Rubizhny, Kremennaya has been temporarily suspended, because everything is very difficult there. First, there is no internet.

Secondly, constant shelling. But many are holding on even despite the fighting – in the same Severodonetsk from which you have just arrived, not only is a weekly newspaper published, but they also include news from the front-line regions in it, and they distribute it to these regions under fire.

– The reissuance of publications to Russian standards is rapidly going on, transparent taxation systems and an electronic budget have been introduced, – Anton Tokarev, an employee of the administration, tells us. – Everything is getting better, even water was given to the regions. But until the middle of 2016, we generally sat without a salary, worked for food. I worked at a carriage building plant, and twice a month we were given a salary in humanitarian aid – bread, meatballs; so it was still good – in 2014 for many months they did not pay anything at all.

– We also received salaries “hedgehogs”, as we call semi-finished meat products, – says his colleague Lyudmila Ostashkova. – You come home and share with all the neighbors. They worked until midnight. The light in the official car was not turned on for safety, in the dark you get into the car – and you flop on a machine gun or a grenade launcher, journalists – they were all militias, always ready for a real battle. Somehow I sat on a grenade, shouting – slow down, check the unloading, who lost it? Then they laughed, teased me – “princess on a grenade.” Somehow, gunfire began, everyone fell to the ground, the driver Oleg forced the film crew to jump out of the car to the shelter, and he himself went under the blows of enemy artillery to save the car, and saved!

Then he says – how could it be otherwise, and so all the equipment is broken!

Photo: Vladimir Ladny

On behalf of Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the contracts were signed by Andrey Pershin, Deputy General Director. – It’s very nice, – he said, – that our colleagues from Lugansk are joining the huge family of content partners. Almost a quarter of Russia’s regional media are in partnership with us. There are also many foreign ones – from China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan. We have the opportunity to exchange information, now we will publish materials from Lugansk journalists, and they, in turn, can take materials from Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Rodina magazine free of charge. In addition, we will be happy to accept Luhansk colleagues for an internship, we have long established such a practice. Even now, one of our content partners, editor-in-chief of the Peremena Peremena newspaper, Natalia Khanova, has come with us, and at the moment she is working with volunteers in a local hospital.

… And the next day after the ceremony of signing the agreement here, in the center of Lugansk, Ukrainian missiles hit again. “We were expelled from the administration building on an air raid alert, and we were on the street when all this flew over us,” Lyudmila Ostashkova, head of the print media department, tells me. – To be honest, today for the first time I heard how this new rocket “rustles”. So-so feeling, something between an airplane and a Hymars.

– Horror!

– We’re used to it. But with the advent of Russia, we have water. And hope.

Source: Российская газета by

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