Ukrainska Pravda, a prominent Ukrainian news outlet, gave its annual Journalist of the Year award to the team of the Kyiv Independent on Dec. 15.
Since 2020, Ukrainska Pravda has been giving away end-of-the-year awards for special achievements.
This time, it recognized the team of the Kyiv Independent for their efforts to protect editorial independence.
The Kyiv Independent, a Ukrainian English-language publication, was founded on Nov. 11 by the editorial staff of the Kyiv Post, a Ukrainian newspaper of 26 years, after its owner fired the entire staff amid a dispute over editorial independence.
Days after the firing, the editorial team launched the Kyiv Independent to provide the world with high-quality and fair English-language reporting from Ukraine.
“It was a shock and a big disappointment when our colleagues were fired without explanation from a newspaper that they have been publishing for so many years,” Sevgil Musayeva, chief editor of Ukrainska Pravda, said as she presented the award.
“We were astonished by how fast the team has made a decision to launch a new project. The story of the Kyiv Independent is a case of journalists that showed their adherence to principles, remained faithful to their profession and chose to serve the society rather than the owner and his fears."
Along with Musayeva, journalist and television host at UA Pershyi Myroslava Barchuk joined in presenting the accolade.
At the Dec. 15 award ceremony, Ukrainska Pravda auctioned a painting by Dmytro Larin, its staff photographer, to raise money for the Kyiv Independent. Tomas Fiala, a Ukrainian-Czech businessman leading the Dragon Capital investment firm, and the owner of Ukrainska Pravda since May, placed the winning bid of Hr 75,000. The starting bid was Hr 10,000.
“We are overwhelmed by the amount of support we have been receiving from the community,” Olga Rudenko, the Kyiv Independent’s editor-in-chief, said. “It is especially humbling to get this award from Ukrainska Pravda, a news outlet that has a special meaning for any journalist in Ukraine, that has paid a higher price for doing journalism than any other newsroom in Ukraine.”
In Ukrainska Pravda’s 21-year history, two of its journalists have been killed.
The publication’s co-founder, journalist Georgiy Gongadze was kidnapped and murdered in 2000. Gongadze has become a symbol of journalistic courage.
Another employee of Ukrainska Pravda, Belarusian-born journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed by a car bomb in central Kyiv in 2016.
In both cases, those who ordered the murders remain unknown and unpunished.
Most of the award’s winners are selected by Ukrainska Pravda’s editorial team. Winners in two categories are chosen by the members of the publication’s Readers' Club.
The Volunteer of the Year award went to Katya Nozhevnikova, the founder of the Corporation of Monsters fund, which has been providing Covid-19 patients with oxygen concentrators since the beginning of the pandemic. The fund operates in the southern regional capital of Odesa.
The Social Project of the Year award was presented to the #ChildrenWeWillMakeIt initiative that spreads awareness about the rare genetic disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and advocates for allocation of state funds to cover its treatment that requires the world’s most expensive drug. The initiative came out of a crowdfunding campaign launched by an Odesa-based family of Vitaliy Svichynskyi and Maria Svichynska. The two have managed to collect $2.3 million for a life-saving shot for their son Dmytro, who was diagnosed with SMA.
The Civic Position award went to a group of activists who fought for protection of the endangered modernist building Kvity Ukrainy (Flowers of Ukraine) in Kyiv. The building was set to be demolished by the new owner and replaced by an office center. Thanks to the activists’ advocacy, the remarkable 1985 building was recognized as the capital’s cultural heritage. The new developer’s plan has been put on hold as it is being challenged in court.
The Artist of the Year award was posthumously presented to one of Ukraine’s most acknowledged contemporary artists Oleksandr Rojtburd, who died in August at the age of 59. Since 2017, Rojtburd was reforming the conservative Odesa Fine Arts Museum as the institution’s director. His firing by local authorities in 2019 sparked public outrage and was recognized unlawful by a court in 2021.
The Hero of Ukrainska Pravda award went to Artur Proidakov, an internally displaced teacher who moved to Kyiv from war-torn Donbas. In the capital, Proidakov teaches children Ukrainian language and literature using offbeat platforms and tools.
Inspiration of the Year, an award whose winner is selected by the Ukrainska Pravda’s Readers’ Club, went to famous TV presenter and journalist Yanina Sokolova.
The second award presented by the Readers’ Club, Innovator of the Year, went to Denys Bihus, a journalist and the leader of the investigative project Bihus.info.
Editor’s Note: The Kyiv Independent is a new media company that is not backed by a rich owner. We mostly rely on our readers’ support and continue to seek cooperation with donors and investors. Support independent journalism by subscribing on Patreon or donating via GoFundMe.
Subscribe to our free daily newsletter to receive the latest Ukraine news in your inbox six days a week here.
To find out more about our origin story, listen to our weekly podcast, “Media in Progress.” All episodes are available here.