MOSCOW, December 15. /TASS/. December 15 is the day when Russia remembers journalists who lost their lives while performing professional duties. The memorable date was introduced by the Russian Journalists’ Union back in 1991.
On September 1, 1991 a TV crew of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting - special correspondent Viktor Nogin and cameraman Gennady Kurennoi - who at that time were on a foreign assignment covering the civil war in Yugoslavia, left Belgrade for the area of the Serbian-Croat conflict with the task of filming a story for the main evening TV news Vremya. The journalists went missing in an area held by Croatian militias near the town of Kostajnica (currently the Croat city of Hrvatska Kostajnica and Bosnian city of Kostajnica), which at that time lay on the line of disengagement between Serbian and Croat armed units. Nogin and Kurennoi failed to contact either the news desk and or their relatives when expected. The search for them produced no results. Both Yugoslav and Russian officials had been investigating the incident. On May 24, 1994 the former chief of the special commission of Russia’s Supreme Soviet, Vladimir Mukusev, told the daily Izvestia in an interview that according to the inquiry’s findings the journalists were killed while doing their job. No official announcements the Prosecutor General’s Office had terminated the investigation and closed the case were published.
Journalists’ Remembrance Day in Russia
On December 11, 1991 the relatives, friends and colleagues of killed journalists gathered for a remembrance ceremony. On all subsequent occasions the ceremony was held on December 15. Many Russian regions on that day arrange special events devoted to media workers killed while on duty. In Moscow, the Central House of Journalists usually hosts the main activities.
According to the Russian Journalists’ Union since 1990 more than 360 Russian journalists died a premature and violent death at work. The Glasnost Defense Foundation says that in 1991-2016 more than 260 media workers perished on duty.
The highest profile cases:
The Moskovsky Komsomolets daily’s reporter Dmitry Kholodov was killed by a trap mine disguised as a briefcase inside the newspaper’s office (Moscow, 1994); the CEO of Russia’s Public Television Vladislav Listiev was gunned down at the entrance to his apartment building in central Moscow in 1995; the editor-in-chief of the Sovetskaya Kalmykia Segodnya (Soviet Kalmykia Today) daily Larisa Yudina was killed in Elista, the Republic of Kalmykia, in 1998; the Novaya Gazeta daily’s investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya was killed on the stairway inside an apartment building near her rented apartment; special photographer of the Rossiya Segodnya news agency Andrey Stenin, Channel One’s cameraman Anatoly Klyan, and VGTRK TV correspondent Igor Kornelyuk and sound engineer Anton Voloshin were killed in southeastern Ukraine in 2014.
According to the Russian Journalists’ Union and the Glasnost Defense Foundation, six TASS staffers have been killed since 1991: Andrey Solovyov (1993), Nadezhda Chuikova and Valery Zufarov (both in 1996), Vadim Biryukov (1997), Vladimir Zbaratsky (1998) and Vladimir Yatsyna (2000).
Journalists’ remembrance days around the world
November 2 is the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which the UN General Assembly session introduced on December 18, 2013 with the aim to draw the public’s attention to the problem of attacks on journalists and media workers.
According to the international organization Reporters without Borders, 110 journalists were killed around the world in 2015, including 67 cases in which the deaths were proven to be related with professional activities. The Committee to Protect Journalists mentions the names of 72 journalists who were killed in the line of duty 2015. In all, 1,216 journalists died by violence around the world since 1992.