Ukraine’s culture, foreign ministers urge journalists to mind their language on Donbas conflict

11 February 2022, 11:30 PM

Ukrainian and foreign journalists alike should use more accurate terminology when covering the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Ukraine’s culture and foreign ministers, Oleksandr Tkachenko and Dmytro Kuleba respectively, said in a joint statement on Feb. 10.

The statement was made in response to an interview published by international news agency Reuters with Denis Pushilin, the head of the Russian proxy authority in the non-government-controlled part of Donetsk Oblast, in which he was described as a “separatist leader.”

The description of Pushilin as a “separatist leader” attracted a range of criticism from various observers, including the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.

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Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko tweeted that it was wrong to consider Kremlin “puppets” like Pushilin as having independent agency, saying that “giving a spotlight to Russian proxies creates a false reality, undermines efforts to bring (Russia) to account for its crimes.”

Kuleba and Tkachenko said the war in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts is an international armed conflict that began with the Russian occupation of Crimean Peninsula.

“... The Russian occupation administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk have no agency either in the negotiation process or in decision-making,” the ministers said.

“We ask Ukrainian and foreign journalists not to create pseudo-agency in the information space for those who do not have this agency in the real world…The temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts are under the full control of the occupying state of the Russian Federation.”

The officials reiterated that any journalist could visit the occupied territories through Ukrainian checkpoints along the contact line. Any other way of visiting the temporarily occupied territories, except the one established by the Ukrainian legislation, is considered a violation of Ukrainian law and the individual may be sanctioned accordingly.

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