The first Ukrainian journalist has arrived in Kosovo as part of a programme to offer sanctuary to media workers amid the Russian invasion of their country, which has seen several reporters killed.
Ukrainian journalist Lyudmila Makey said on Monday after becoming the first to be hosted as part of the Journalists-in-Residence Kosovo Programme that she was thankful for the safe haven amid the Russian invasion of her home country.
Makey told a press conference organised with the Association of Journalists of Kosovo that journalists in Ukraine are being “harmed and threatened”. Several have been killed since the Russian invasion began in February.
“It should not be like this… we [Ukrainians] want to live in a free and peaceful country,” she said.
She explained that she chose Kosovo as a destination because she wanted to see life in a post-war country with her own eyes and “strengthen the friendly connection between our two countries”.
“I realised that people [in Kosovo] who have experienced a similar war share the same feeling that we [in Ukraine] feel right now,” she said.
After arriving on Sunday evening, Makey was welcomed by Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Foreign Minister Donika Gervalla and Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla.
“Our doors remain open to other Ukrainian journalists,” Flutura Kusari, media lawyer and a legal adviser at the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, an NGO, wrote on Twitter on Sunday evening.
Kurti wrote on Twitter that he hopes that Makey will “go on to tell and report the truth on behalf of her people from [Kosovo] where I hope she’ll soon call her second home”.
The Journalists-in-Residence Kosovo Programme was established by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and is financed by the Kosovo government.
Even though Ukraine does not recognise Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, Pristina will host up to 20 Ukrainian journalists who will be granted 1,000 euros to assist their relocation, as well as a 500 euros monthly stipend and 300 euros for rent.
Sergiy Tomilenko, president of the Association of Journalists of Ukraine and member of the steering committee of the European Federation of Journalists, expresses gratitude for the scheme, saying that “from the bottom of my heart, [I] thank the people of Kosovo for the support of Ukrainian journalists”.
Makey told media that she is pleased to be in Kosovo and that she is finally laughing again, “a feeling I have not experienced in a long time”.
“My other colleagues [in Ukraine], especially those in the areas Russia invaded, do not have the same opportunity,” she said.
Public broadcaster Radio Television of Kosovo, RTK, announced on Saturday that its board has decided to provide working space for up to four journalists from Ukraine.
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