Ukraine 22 Aug 2014 08:59
Working inside Donetsk presents various challenges for photojournalists. One major challenge involves working directly with rebel forces defending one of their last bastions against government forces. Each day their defensive perimeter is shrinking due to constant shelling. Journalists can only work if granted proper accreditation approved by the Donetsk People Republic. In theory, the accreditation allows journalists to work in military areas, though most suspect it is also used to control the information gathered and shared with the world. The following funeral series is both rare and hard to come by, as the rebels never give access to events that show their demise or military loses. In this case, however, we happened to come across a convoy of rebel cars and two armored vehicles, carrying troops and two coffins each. We decided to follow it and try our luck. After a mile, troops from the convoy stopped us, pointed their machine gun at us and demanded to know why we were following them. When we expressed interest in documenting the funeral, they uncharacteristically agreed. After driving another 20 minutes, the convoy reached a small village right on the front lines, as could be deduced by the constant shelling heard whenever government forces are nearby. For one hour, we photographed the entire ceremony, only to be arrested as soon as it ended under the pretext that their faces could be seen in the pictures. Some soldiers forced us in different cars and drove us to their headquarters back in Donetsk, where they forced us to delete all the photos. Though we obeyed, we were able to retrieve all of them once back at the hotel.