A Ukrainian journalist, 46-year-old Bohdan Bityk, working as a fixer for a journalist from Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper has been shot dead in Ukraine, allegedly by a Russian sniper. The Italian reporter he was accompanying, Corrado Zunino, was wounded in the same attack.
Fixers are local media workers hired by journalists as translators, guides and various other kinds of assistance. Bityk had been working regularly with the Italian newspaper.
The reporters were targeted near the Antonivsky bridge, which crosses the Dnipro River on the outskirts of Kherson, in southern Ukraine. The bridge had been destroyed by Russian troops as they withdrew from the right bank (northwestern side) of the river last November. The journalists were hoping to speak to members of the Ukrainian forces which have set up positions close to the bridge.
Both men, who had worked together for some time and had filed a number of stories relating to the conflict in Ukraine, had been wearing blue bulletproof vests prominently marked with “PRESS” on front and back, when they were attacked.
“We passed three checkpoints, Bohdan talked to the Ukrainian military, and they let us go through without problems. It wasn’t a fighting zone,” Zunino told La Repubblica, his employer.
“Then we both got hit. I heard a hiss and I saw Bohdan on the ground, he wasn’t moving,” Zunino continued. “I crawled out of the line of fire. I ran until I passed a civilian car. I was full of blood, I had to be taken to hospital in Kherson. I have four wounds, but I was treated perfectly. I tried several times to call Bohdan, he didn’t answer. He was a great friend of mine, it’s excruciating suffering.”
A spokesperson for La Repubblica said: “It’s difficult to recover Bityk’s body at the moment, due to the presence of snipers.”
Bityk leaves behind a wife and 22-year-old son studying to be a dentist.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, asked by Italian media for his comments, said that Russians were undoubtedly responsible for the killing. “Russians don’t care if you’re Russian, Italian or Ukrainian, they just shoot,” he said.
The Italian foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, said his ministry and the Italian embassy in Kyiv were working with the Ukrainian authorities to repatriate Zunino.
At least 12, mostly Ukrainian, journalists and media workers have been killed and 18 injured, since the beginning of the invasion, according to the International Federation of Journalists.
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