PRAGUE—On the occasion of “Journalists Day,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on June 6 awarded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) correspondents Maryan Kushnir and Serhiy Horbatenko the Order of Merit Third Class.
The Order of Merit is a distinguished service award and was bestowed upon Kushnir, Horbatenko, and other journalists for their “personal contribution to the development of domestic journalism and the information sphere, courage, and dedication shown during the coverage of the events of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine, many years of conscientious work and high professional skills."
Kushnir, a correspondent for RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service since 2015, has been embedded with Ukrainian troops while covering the war and suffered a concussion during a Russian rocket attack on Ukrainian forces near Kyiv on March 11. Horbatenko, a long-term freelancer for the Service, has also been covering the invasion since February and has produced videos detailing the conflict and its impact on the people of eastern Ukraine, including the April 8 rocket attack on a crowded railway station in Kramatorsk that killed at least 52 people.
“We welcome this well-deserved recognition of Maryan and Serhiy’s courageous and outstanding reporting,” said RFE/RL President and CEO Jamie Fly. “Without professional journalists like Maryan and Serhiy, the full cruelty of the Russian invasion and its impact on innocent Ukrainians would not be known.”
Zelenskyy also thanked and recognized the 32 Ukrainian and foreign media journalists killed during the war, including RFE/RL Ukrainian Service journalist Vira Hyrych. Hyrych was killed in a Russian air strike on the building where she lived in Kyiv on April 28.
RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, known locally as Radio Svoboda, with a monthly average of over 8 million visits and 11 million page views to its websites as well as nearly 600 million video views on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram in 2021, sets a standard in the Ukrainian media market for independence, professionalism, and innovation. Since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine on February 24, Ukrainian Service videos have been viewed over 375 million times alone. The service’s comprehensive coverage includes the award-winning reporting of its Donbas Realities and Crimea Realities websites and “Schemes” investigative reporting team.
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to more than 37 million people every week in 27 languages and 23 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed 7 billion times on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram/IGTV in FY2021. RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.