Two journalists working for the Italian newspaper La Repubblica came under fire on 26 April 2023, while reporting near the Antonivskiy Bridge on the outskirts of Kherson, in southern Ukraine. A Ukrainian journalist working as a fixer, Bohdan Bitik, was shot dead. His Italian colleague, Corrado Zunino, was wounded in the shoulder, the newspaper reported.
Zunino was wearing a bulletproof vest marked ‘press’ but it is unclear whether Bitik was wearing one or not. The attack was carried out “most likely by Russian snipers”, the newspaper reported.
“I’m well, I’ve got a wound in my right shoulder, shaved by the bullet that hit my great friend Bohdan,’’ Corrado Zunino told La Repubblica. “We passed three checkpoints. Bohdan talked to the Ukrainian military and they let us pass without problems. It wasn't a fighting zone. Then we got hit. I saw Bohdan on the ground. He wasn’t moving. I crawled until I got out of the line of fire. I ran until I came across a civilian’s car. I was covered in blood. I got myself taken to the hospital in Kherson."
The International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) joined their Italian affiliate, the FNSI, in expressing their deepest condolences to the relatives and colleagues of Bohdan Bitik and their solidarity with Corrado Zunino.
"The ambush @corzunino and the death of Bohdan Bitik is chilling news. And it reminds us all of the fundamental role of envoys in the field to inform us about wars," tweeted FNSI President and Rai journalist Vittorio di Trapani.
The President of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), Sergiy Tomilenko, added: "The murder of Ukrainian journalist Bohdan Bitik and the injury of Italian journalist Corrado Zunino are yet another war crime by the Russians. They are also evidence of the danger inherent to our profession. The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine thanks the brave Italian journalists who are working on the front line. We appeal to the Italian journalists' trade union and La Repubblica to guarantee the protection of the rights of the Ukrainian fixer as a member of the Italian media team."
Bohdan Bitik is the 13th media worker to have been killed on duty since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022.