As the world waits to see what happens next in the standoff with Russia, the networks of the BBG are providing comprehensive coverage, exclusive interviews and unique reporting on the latest developments in Ukraine and the region.
In addition to ongoing coverage on television, radio and online, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty are providing up-to-the-minute reports, ongoing analysis and important context for audiences throughout the region.
Elena Rykovtseva, a correspondent for RFE/RL’s Russian Service, was in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa when clashes broke out between pro-Russian separatists and supporters of the government in Kyiv on the evening of May 2. More than 40 people died in the city that day, most of them in a fire in the city’s trade-union building. Immediately after the fire, several rumors emerged – that a pregnant woman was among the dead, and that a local doctor had been prevented by Ukrainian nationalists from helping the injured and that he was told that he and the city’s other Jews would also be dead soon. Articles on RFE/RL’s Russian-language “Lie of the Day” and English-language #UkraineUnspun blogs helped expose the truth behind these provocative – and false – claims. VOA’s Ukrainian Service covered the State Department deputy spokesperson’s statement on the Odessa tragedy, which called for a thorough investigation and for the immediate implementation of the April 17 Geneva agreement to de-escalate the crisis.
Perhaps nowhere is the failure of the Geneva agreement more evident than in Donetsk. None of the agreement’s goals has been reached in the city, and tensions and violence are on the rise. Two Russian journalists were recently captured there and later deported to Russia, and after OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović expressed concern, VOA Russian asked several journalists inside the country to talk about the reporting environment there. RFE/RL reported that Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister Mykola Velykovych declared that Russian commandos operating in eastern Ukraine are targeting doctors and journalists for kidnappings.
In an exclusive interview, VOA Russian spoke with Mikhail Kasyanov, former Russian prime minister and current opposition leader and co-leader of the Republican Party of People’s Freedom (PARNAS) Party. Kasyanov explained, “Demonstration of potential aggression in eastern Ukraine is meant to force West to accept the annexation of the Crimea and to recognize its legitimacy.”
However, as RFE/RL reports, since the Russian takeover, life in Crimea has become increasingly difficult for many living there. RFE/RL interviewed Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, who was denied entry into Crimea on May 2. He was told by Russian-backed authorities running Crimea that the Crimean Tatars’ main self-government body, the Mejlis, will be liquidated. In addition to the interview, RFE/RL provided important context on why the group is at the center of ethnic tensions with a detailed explainer piece called What Is The Crimean Tatar Mejlis?
Voice of America is continuing to provide important coverage of U.S. and international reaction. In addition to its own coverage of the Obama-Merkel meeting in Washington, D.C., the Ukrainian Service conducted a live 10-minute interactive for Hromadske TV via Skype on the possible new sanctions on Russia.
VOA Ukrainian also covered the U.N. Security Council meeting at which U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power commended Ukrainian government restraint and supported as legitimate the actions of the Ukrainian government against armed separatists. The Service also covered the announcement of the approval of a new $17-billion IMF loan package for the country. And when a Ukrainian-American demonstration was held at the White House calling for additional sanctions against Russia for its aggression, VOA Ukrainian was there to cover it.