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Russian Journalist Killed Covering Shelling in Kyiv

FILE - Oksana Baulina, the chief of video operations at the foundation run by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, speaks after a live broadcast at the office of the Foundation for Fighting Corruption in Moscow, Russia, May 16, 2017.

After a fifth journalist was killed covering the war in Ukraine on Wednesday, the U.N. and other bodies once again underscored that members of the media should not be considered as targets.

Oksana Baulina, a 42-year-old reporter from Russia, had focused her journalism career on investigating Russian corruption.

She was killed covering the impact of Russian shelling on the Podil district of Kyiv, while on assignment for the Latvia-based investigative news website, The Insider.

In a statement The Insider expressed sympathy for Baulina’s friends and family and said, “We will continue to cover the war in Ukraine, including such Russian war crimes as indiscriminate shelling of residential areas where civilians and journalists are killed.”

The director-general of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, on Thursday denounced the killing and reiterated her call for all sides to respect a United Nations Security Council resolution on the protection of media.

Such protections are needed “to allow the free flow of information, and ensure the rights of journalists to inform the world about the realities of war,” Azoulay said in a statement.

Friends of Baulina paid tribute to her on social media, recalling how she started her career in Moscow, working at luxury lifestyle magazines.

Olga Shakina of Department One, a collective of lawyers and human rights activists, said on Telegram that Baulina left that career behind when a magazine she worked for “went against her wishes and ran a paid puff piece on the pleasures of vacationing in Crimea.”

“As I recall, she was the only journalist in the entertainment industry who did anything like that, while everyone else mumbled that ‘glossy magazines are outside politics,” Shakina said in her post, which was widely shared online.

Alexey Kovalyov, an editor at the Latvia-based Russian news site Meduza, worked with Baulina at several independent news outlets. She had a “phenomenal sense of moral clarity,” he said on Twitter.

After leaving magazines, Baulina switched her focus to investigative journalism and politics, working for opposition figure Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, and reporting for the investigative news outlets The Insider and Belsat.

When Russia labeled the Anti-Corruption Foundation an extremist organization, Baulina left Russia and continued to report on the country from outside its borders.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said on Wednesday that it was “profoundly saddened” by her death.

“This is another demonstration of the cruelty of Russia’s war on Ukraine, which has already claimed the lives of at least four other journalists,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in a statement.

In the first month of Russia’s war in Ukraine, five journalists have been killed.

On March 13, award-winning American filmmaker and journalist Brent Renaud was killed and his colleague Juan Arredondo injured when their vehicle came under fire near Kyiv.

The next day, two members of a Fox News crew, Oleksandra Kuvshynova and Pierre Zakrzewski, were killed and correspondent Benjamin Hall was severely injured. FOX says they were “struck by incoming fire.”

And on March 1, Yevhenii Sakun, a Ukrainian camera operator for LIVE TV, was killed by a Russian strike on a TV tower in Kyiv.

Said of CPJ urged Ukrainian and Russian authorities to “do everything in their power to ensure the safety of journalists and all other civilians, and to thoroughly investigate attacks on members of the press.”

In response to Baulina’s death, the Paris-based Reporters Without Border (RSF) said Wednesday that journalists “must not be targets of war.” [[ ]]

RSF, with support from international bodies including UNSECO, recently opened a resource center in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, near the Polish border, to support journalists covering the conflict in Ukraine.