Persistence, flexibility and teamwork results in an exclusive interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a crucial time for the country.
When Kyiv photographer Efrem Lukatsky was invited to a government briefing a few weeks ago, he saw an opportunity to renew a request to interview Zelenskyy. The AP wanted to know more about the Ukrainian counteroffensive, his mood ahead of U.S. elections and his efforts to keep the war in the world’s consciousness in light of the war in the Middle East. His persistence paid off: James Jordan, news director for Europe and Africa, Lukatsky and videojournalist Srdjan Nedelijkovic traveled with Zelenskyy’s convoy to visit troops in a frontline town as explosions sounded outside.
Meanwhile, some 80 kilometers away, Felipe Dana led a team setting up the interview shoot in Kharkiv. Not only did they have to deliver a three-camera interview, fully lit and wired for sound, they were also told at the last minute that the president would mainly speak in Ukrainian and wanted simultaneous translation of questions. That meant that news assistant Illia Novikov was suddenly expected to deliver flawless translation for both sides of the interview — a tough task for even the most experienced professional translator. It also necessitated new earpieces and wireless receivers. Unfazed, producer Vova Yurchuk expertly secured the right gear in Kyiv and drove through the night to Kharkiv to deliver them.
Jordan conducted the wide-ranging interview, expertly amplified by Kyiv correspondent Samya Kullab into a powerful story edited by Top Stories Hub editor Brian Friedman. In it, Zelenskyy acknowledged he was not content with aspects of the counteroffensive and spoke of how the war was entering a new winter phase. He also talked at length about the decision to pause elections in Ukraine and called upon the international community to condemn the upcoming Russian election. The overall result was an exclusive interview that went beyond competitors’ sit-down interviews in Kyiv. It also highlighted the ongoing conflict in Ukraine at a time when the world's attention has shifted, underscoring AP’s commitment to the Ukraine story.