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Journalists who remained in Kherson during the occupation refused to work for the invaders, says a reporter

25.05.2023, 18:25
Photo by Stas Yurchenko / Graty
Photo by Stas Yurchenko / Graty

Journalists who remained in Kherson during the occupation refused to work for the TV channels "VTV Plus" and Kratu, who volunteered to operate under the Russian-controlled government. Kratu owner Vyacheslav Horlovsky, a friend of the late "deputy governor" Kyrylo Stremousov, personally called the journalists by phone, offering them jobs. He did not hide that he was recruiting people to report on the "positive changes" the city saw after the occupation.

Kherson journalist Valentyna Fedorchuk told The Insider Russia about this.

The local TV channel "VTV Plus" that she left a few weeks before the full-scale war still speaks today, covering the work of the occupation administration. Its owner Tetyana Kamenska has interviewed Volodymyr Saldo, the Russian-appointed "governor". (Kamenska was officially accused of collaborationism in March 2023.) Since June 2022, the channel has been broadcasting via a Russian satellite.

Right before February 24, "VTV Plus" was left without reporters. Everyone left, as they were unwilling to work with Kamenska, says Valentyna. Two students remained, but later left the city at the start of the invasion. Only camerapeople and one host were present at the meeting.

Kamenska encouraged the employees to work, but to cover everything "neutrally".

According to Kamenska, working "neutrally" meant attending both the event commemorating the city's liberation from the German Nazis, where the locals spoke against the Russian occupiers, and to the rally featuring Saldo and Stremousov (Volodymyr Saldo and Kyrylo Stremousov – the "head" and "deputy head" of the occupation administration of Kherson oblast. – Ed.).

According to Valentyna, she agreed to go to the protest, and Kamenska attended the event with Saldo and Stremousov herself.

Asked if she was ready to work after the meeting, Valentyna Fedorchuk asked about the salary prospects and, in general, where the money would be coming from. She was told that there was an agreement with the City Council.

"I was surprised that it was the City Council. VTV Plus had more or less good relations with the regional administration, but not so much with the City Council. Yet, they told me the estimated salaries in hryvnias," the reporter emphasized.

It seemed suspicious, so Valentina refused the offer. She hinted that she would not work for Channel 5 either, just in case. Although in fact she continued to report for Ukrainian TV. Meanwhile, "VTV Plus" launched a program with the Ukrainian name "Moving On", but its creators were distorting the reality.

"They drove around the city, taking pictures from their car. At that time, it was impossible to pass through the city without seeing the occupiers. Wherever you went, you would encounter a Z or some soldiers or whatnot. And in their trips through the city, there was not a single shot of the military that would show the real situation in the city!" Fedorchuk explains. "And then there was an interview with Saldo, taken by Kamenska herself."

In the end, the TV channel Kratu failed to recruit reporters and stopped working, while VTV Plus actually recruited people from the street, said Valentyna.

The journalist did not wait until the city was liberated. She and her husband, who works as a cameraman, left in the summer of 2022. It was a difficult and risky journey across the front line. They could not let the Russian soldires know that they were journalists. Valentina invented a legend for herself, posing as a wedding organizer.

As IMI reported, Kherson oblast media are resuming their work following the Russian occupation, although the process is very slow. Namely, there are up to five websites, two radio stations, and no TV channels currently active in Kherson.

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