A prize for truth
“Freedom of Speech Award” to be presented to Mstyslav Chernov and Evgeniy Maloletka at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum.
Their reports are neither easy to digest nor entertaining, let alone pleasant to watch. The photographs and descriptions of hardship and misery in a Ukraine devastated by the Russian war of aggression not infrequently bring tears to the eyes of those who see them. Mstyslav Chernov (Associated Press journalist and author) and Evgeniy Maloletka (freelance photojournalist) reveal to the global public the people and destinies behind the numbers documenting lives lost, bombardments, towns captured. The two Ukrainian journalists held out in the besieged port city of Mariupol for as long as possible and were ultimately the last journalists to leave. Their AP reportage entitled “20 days in Mariupol: The team that documented city's agony” depicts the lives and the deaths of people in the city, which was shelled and finally stormed by the Russian army, regardless of the suffering of thousands of civilians.
At the 15th DW Global Media Forum “Shaping tomorrow, now!” that will be hosted by Deutsche Welle (DW) on 20 and 21 June 2022, Chernov and Maloletka will be honoured with the DW’s “Freedom of Speech Award”. Since 2015, Germany’s international broadcaster has paid tribute to a person or an initiative that has played an important role in promoting the rights of freedom, especially freedom of the press and expression.
Chernov and Maloletka have published their articles and photographs of the fighting and its victims in Crimea and eastern Ukraine in a whole host of international media, including the BBC, Deutsche Welle, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Der Spiegel. As a war correspondent in various conflict regions such as Iraq and Syria, Chernov has been wounded on a number of occasions. Before Russia’s war of aggression, Maloletka worked among other things on projects about the Hutsuls in western Ukraine, their traditions and their daily lives, as well as about the effects of the conflict that has been underway in Donbas since 2014. He took the above photograph at Maidan Square on 19 February 2014 during the demonstrations for freedom and democracy in Kyiv.
“The reports from Mstyslav Chernov and Evgeniy Maloletka are hard to bear, but what really hurts is the truth they portray: Russia is attacking Ukraine and its civilian population under a flimsy pretext. Though every story has its nuances, facts are unnegotiable. Yet that is precisely what the Kremlin seeks to do: distort the facts and disseminate false information”, says DW Director General Peter Limbourg. “The Freedom of Speech Award for Mstyslav Chernov and Evgeniy Maloletka pays tribute to their extraordinary courage in countering propaganda and fake news. It acknowledges that their fight for human rights and truth is a fight for democracy and freedom, on behalf of us all, and that they are paying a high price for it.”