Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“I’ve come to your country to see history with my own eyes”

Well-known Russian photo journalist Viktoria Ivleva told the students of Ostroh Academy about the difficulties of work in the ATO area
26 March, 2015 - 10:54

“I cannot speak on behalf of my whole country, because I am only one of 140,000,000 residents of Russia. But please forgive us that we haven’t managed to stop our state,” photo journalist Viktoria Ivleva began her lecture at the Ostroh Academy with this phrase. She has recently come to the university on the invitation of the students.

Viktoria Ivleva is the only journalist who entered the reactor after the explosion at the Chornobyl Nuclear Station. In 1991 she shot a report “Inside Chornobyl,” for which she received the highest award Golden Eye of the World Press Photo Contest. In the late 1980s – early 1990s she was making photos almost in all trouble spots of the USSR. She has worked a lot in the African countries, where she was helping many humanitarian missions. She was the only Russian journalist who went to Rwanda during the genocide. She has worked for many years in Novaya gazeta, her works have been published in the magazine Ogonyok, Moskovskiye novosti, German Spiegel, French Figaro, English Guardian, American The New York Times, and other publications. Viktoria Ivleva won the prize of the Union of Journalists of Russia (2007) and the German Gerd Bucerius Prize.

Presently Viktoria Ivleva is a volunteer in the ATO area, where she is helping people leave the occupied area. The Maidan revolution, the annexation of the Crimea, and the war in the east of Ukraine have made the journalist change her usual way of living. “I understood that I must take part in the historical events that are taking place in Ukraine. I have come to your country to see with my own eyes history that is being created. I could not be a usual observer at this war, a journalist who only describes the events and is not trying to influence them. On my return to Moscow I was gathering money for humanitarian aid, bringing it here, and giving it to the poor. I talked to people and recorded their stories,” Viktoria Ivleva says.

Ivleva included her impressions from staying in Ukraine in the book Mandrivka or Journey of a Facebook worm across Ukraine, which has been published by a Kyiv publishing house Dukh i Litera past December. The book tells about the country which was artificially divided, about the people who are trying to explain everything that is happening to them to themselves and to the author. According to Zoia Svetova, an author of Open Russia society, the stories in the book are sad, joyful, tragic, and piercing. This is a view of a person who is not indifferent, who is ashamed of the war where Russia is taking part. And not only the desire to tell about this war, but also the desire to stop it, made Viktoria Ivleva take a pen and come back to Ukraine again and again to talk about human tragedies and to help those who cannot be helped by anyone but her.

“I am not following the Russian journalists, because I have known for a long time who is right and who is guilty. We should remember that in current circumstances the particle ‘not’ can be added to every word, therefore you should think over everything you write very thoroughly. What is going on in Russian journalism is bringing out all the animal instincts of the people to the surface,” Viktoria Ivleva underlined.

The journalist as well noted that equality of people is important, because we all are inhabitants of the plant Earth. “The inner feeling of equality is the main thing in journalism. According to this principle the British queen hardly differs from a Bedouin in a desert. Every human life is priceless.”

By Oleksii KOSTIUCHENKO, Ostroh