A trio of AP visual journalists bears witness to the civilian victims of Russia’s merciless shelling.
As Russian shelling increased on the partially blockaded northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, photographer Felipe Dana, video journalist Mstyslav Chernov and producer Vasilisa Stepanenko promptly delivered arresting images documenting the horrors of war, telling victims’ stories with sensitivity and offering a glimpse into how war tears apart innocent lives. They also witnessed Ukrainian security personnel arresting people suspected of collaborating with Russian forces.
The AP team was on the scene moments after a shelling as one family echoed the tragic experience of so many Ukrainians. “Please open your eyes, my bunny. Please,” Nina Shevchenko pleaded as she stroked the lifeless face of her son Artem, 15. “Let me see him! My baby! My golden sunshine!” the boy’s grandmother cried as workers zipped up the body bag. “Why should I live, if you are gone?”
Working tirelessly, often at great personal risk, they captured many such scenes in Kharkiv, including medics tending to the severely wounded in the street after one strike. “You’re a strong man. You can make it,” a rescuer tells one of the wounded. The journalists also witnessed Ukrainian security personnel arresting people suspected of collaborating with Russian forces.
In another building’s hallway, a young girl broke down in tears as she recounted the horror of the attack and how she was saved only when “some woman, God bless her, covered me with her body.” “Don’t cry, my little one,” her mother reassured her. “Everything is over.”
For riveting, revealing and compassionate coverage of one city’s agony, the team of Dana, Chernov and Stepanenko earns AP Best of the Week — Second Winner honors.