BBG Networks Provide Coverage of Realities in Crimea and Ukraine

In this screengrab and older woman holds a poster in support of Russia
In RFE/RL’s Crimea Debrief, Andrei Sharogradsky examines how the annexation of the peninsula is affecting the residents’ every day lives.

As the standoff in Crimea continues, the networks of the BBG are enhancing their coverage and distribution of programming to the volatile region.

Last week, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) launched a Crimea-focused website, “Crimea Realities.” In its first six days the site was visited more than 26,000 times, primarily by visitors in Kyiv and Simferopol. Companion social media profiles, including Facebook, vKontakte, and Twitter, have been created and are gaining popularity.

RFE/RL is expanding its network of Ukrainian, Russian, and Tatar-language stringers in eastern and southern Ukraine, and is providing them with video training. RFE/RL has also started a training program for journalists in Sumy, Ukraine, along the Ukrainian-Russian border north of Kharkiv.

In addition to continuing its live-blog and video coverage of events in Crimea and Ukraine, as well as its popular “Ukraine Unspun” blog, RFE/RL has taken an in-depth look at how the illegal annexation of Crimea has affected the lives of people living on the peninsula. Russian Service journalist Andrei Sharogradsky spent a week in Crimea covering the story as Russian forces took control of the Ukrainian territory and speaking with a cross-section of people living on the peninsula. Correspondent Robert Coalson examined the harsh new legal environment that the Crimean Tatar minority faces and fears that activists and ordinary Muslims could suddenly be branded “extremists.” Iryna Shtogrin and Ron Synovitz examined the dilemma faced by Ukrainian troops in Crimea.

Voice of America’s Ukrainian Service is providing important international news and context to it audiences in the region online and on TV. The VOA Ukrainian website hosted a live stream of President Obama’s keynote address in Brussels and of his joint press conference with EU leaders. The events were also covered extensively on prime-time television. The service also provided its TV audience with coverage of the discussions on Capitol Hill as the Senate and the House moved forward on passage of comprehensive legislation in support of Ukraine. The report featured the floor statements of Senators John McCain, Richard Durbin and Robert Menendez.

In addition to news from the U.S., VOA Ukrainian has also provided important context and analysis from Ukraine. Reporter Daniel Schearf and videographer Arash Arabasadi reported on Ukraine’s so-called “Right Sector” — the nationalists who helped spark the flight of President Viktor Yanukovich and have been used as an excuse for Russian intervention. VOA Ukrainian also aired an exclusive TV interview with Yulia Marushevska, the university student whose video of the mistreatment of the Maidan Square protesters generated millions of views on YouTube.