The all-formats team of Lynn Berry, Vladimir Kondrashov, Anatoly Kozlov, Alexander Zemlianichenko, Vladimir Isachenkov, Jim Heintz, Varya Kudryavtseva, Kostya Manenkov, Olga Tregubova, Julia Rubin, Samira Becirovic and Andy Katell delivered comprehensive coverage following Mikhail Gorbachev’s death, culminating in agency-exclusive images of the last Soviet leader’s funeral.
When first word came of the iconic leader’s death, quick work by Moscow writer Vladimir Isachenkov late Tuesday night meant AP was one of the first international news organizations to break the news. That was closely followed by an in-depth obituary that had been periodically updated by reporter Jim Heintz as Gorbachev’s health failed in recent years. Moscow chief photographer Alexander Zemlianichenko had prepared a full photo retrospective, and Samira Becirovic, London’s head of news production, had an updated obit video ready. Despite the late hour, the Moscow video team led by Olga Tregubova, was quick to set up live shots, heavily used by AP clients, at Red Square and outside the hospital were Gorbachev died.
In the following days, great collaboration and teamwork across the AP produced solid spot and enterprise offerings as preparations took place for the funeral. Highlights included:
— An analytical look by Andy Katell at how events set in motion by Gorbachev led in pat to the catastrophe now unfolding in Ukraine.
— A distinctive piece by Lynn Berry recounting AP staffers’ experiences of covering “Gorby.”
— A story by Julia Rubin looking at Gorbachev, the family man and husband, who broke the mold of the stuffy Soviet leaders that preceded him — accompanied by a touching set of photos curated by Zemlianichenko.
— Emotional on-camera interviews with close members of the Gorbachev team, including footage from Gorbachev’s personal office and the Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow.
— A freelance crew’s interview in Gorbachev’s home village in southern Russia with one of his former classmates — also widely by video and text clients.
Capping the week was exclusive international agency footage of Gorbachev’s burial. With access to the cemetery initially refused, editorial assistant Varya Kudryavtseva worked every contact in her book, while the team on the ground — Vladimir Kondrashov and Anatoly Kozlov for video, and Zemlianichenko for photos — used all their powers of persuasion with the security services to gain entry. Their persistance paid off — the video and photos shot by the group document the historic moment of Gorbachev lying in the open casket, his immediate family around him as a priest performs the last rites.
Producer Kostya Manenkov coordinated the crews on that final day and sent numerous fast file edits of events as they took place. The video edit of the funeral was the most widely used by AP clients last weekend.