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Russian Journalists in Ukraine: Caught in Limbo?

In: Russian Politics
Author:
Darya Malyutina Dr.; Research Fellow, New Europe College, Bucharest, Romania, darya.malyutina@gmail.com

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Since the 2004 Orange Revolution, Ukrainian media have provided a number of Russian journalists an alternative place to continue their career, whether they were looking for a comparatively free and pluralistic media space, a new job, or safety. The number of Russian media professionals in Ukraine increased in the subsequent years. Euromaidan and the annexation of Crimea in 2014, followed by Russia’s military intervention in Donbas, have contributed to decisions to move or extend their stay in Ukraine. However, these events have also complicated the position of Russian journalists in Ukraine.

This paper seeks to explore the challenges connected with being a Russian journalist and working in Ukraine-based media during Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine. This population of migrant media workers has arrived from an aggressor country, where mainstream media have been producing manipulative anti-Ukrainian discourse. They are diverse in terms of social backgrounds and migration histories, but mostly are qualified and experienced professionals. They do not form a tightly knit migrant community, and do not work for media outlets targeting such a community. This article addresses the experiences of a number of these media personalities, drawing upon a series of interviews conducted in late 2015, and open source materials. I argue that the Maidan, the annexation of Crimea, and the ongoing conflict have had a significant impact on Russian migrant journalists in Ukraine, by providing a migration context, influencing their work ethics and making them particularly sensitive to the ideas of responsibility and journalistic subjectivity.

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