serger Sergey Ponomarev

Sergey Ponomarev, photojournalist, freelance photographer at The New York Times, based in Moscow. Assignments for current New York Times stories from Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Europe. Photojournalist at Associated Press December 2003 - November 2012 (9 years). I have worked eight years as a photographer in the Moscow Bureau of Associated Press. Was one of 5 photogs plus chief-photographer who worked on the vast territory of ex-Soviet Union. In case of breaking news my objectives were getting to the scene as soon as possible, shooting and transmitting pictures by myself, and organizing and editing local stringers contributing to AP. Had some combat and hostile environment experience. 2004, covered the Beslan school siege in North Ossetia where 300 kids were killed. 2006 - Israel-Hezbollah war on Lebanese side, and also deployment of UN peacekeepers following the resolution of 1701. 2011 - the Arab spring in Egypt, Bahrain and Libya. Most of the time was spent in Libya, where I was following rebels till the fall of Tripoli and further to Bani Walid. Also had to cover many political events. January 2000 – 2002, photographer at Kommersant, local news coverage.

Collections created

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Ukraine Fighting Displaces Thousands
Debaltsevo, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
07 Feb 2015

Heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine has killed civilians on both sides, while an attempt to reopen peace talks has stalled. The past week has seen by far the worst fighting in Ukraine since the ceasefire was signed five months ago, exacerbating the refugee situation in the country. This comes as rebel forces announced an offensive that Kiev says amounts to a full repudiation of the truce. 

Fighting in the towns of Uglegorsk and Debaltsevo left tens of Ukrainian soldiers and rebel soldiers dead, while civilians from the area fled to a suburb just thirty kilometers from the frontline in Svetlogorsk. Meanwhile in Donetsk, recently the scene of fierce clashes between Ukrainian forces and rebel units, some residents attend a show at the Donetsk Opera while others stay in the safety of makeshift bomb shelters.

So far, fighting in East Ukraine has left 921,640 internally displaced, including 136,216 children, according to a UN report from January 21. Over 600,000 have left the country, 400,000 of whom have fled to Russia.

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Ukraine: Zombieland
Donetsk
By Sergey Ponomarev
27 Jan 2015

The war in southeastern Ukraine has turned the region in to a zombie-land. Ukraine has historically been divided into pro-European and pro-Russian regions. Donbass, in the east, has been a battleground since the 2014 revolution in Kiev finally snapped West from East. In this war, propaganda has become the main tool of manipulation, setting some citizens against others. Some locals have become so brainwashed by Russian TV that it appeared they had no opinions of their own, mimicking only what they have heard on TV. They gave their opponents offensive homogenizing nicknames, dehumanizing them so it makes it easier to kill. Youth gangs and armed groups became the main force in the region, seizing administration buildings and setting up checkpoints. Just as they were told on Russian state TV, they believed that a Nazi government, who would soon come to the southeast to kill them, now ruled western Ukraine. At the same time, Ukrainian propaganda was also accusing Donbass of fascism and treachery, using almost same methods to dehumanize separatists. The war in Ukraine has lasted almost a year and ordinary people have been turned into zombies absorbing the flood of propaganda that is designed to continue the war, propagate the criminal laws of the many small warlords on the ground and the hate that was spilled in the air.

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Russia's Annexation of Crimea
Sevastopol, Crimea
By Sergey Ponomarev
28 Feb 2014

In March 2014, Russia annexed most of the Crimean Peninsula, internationally recognized as part of Ukraine, into the Russian Federation amid political turmoil following the Ukrainian uprising and violence between Pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces.

Starting on March 21, 2014, Russia effectively administers Crimea as two federal subjects—the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol.

The annexation of Crimea by Russia sparked months of political tension between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Western leaders. The east of Ukraine continues to be devastated by fighting between separatist groups and the Ukrainian armed forces.

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Children's Circus Flourishes Despite ...
Kabul
By Sergey Ponomarev
10 Nov 2014

Surrounded by mountains and divided into sectors by concrete blast walls, there is a place in Kabul where you can dive into an atmosphere of colors and children’s joy. For the war-torn, landlocked Afghanistan – after more than three decades suffering from multiple invasions and religious conservatism - circus is giving Afghan youth a positive outlet: and they sure put on a show.

Vivid colors and girls singing and juggling still shocks conservative elders, but after a while their smiles give them away. Entering the door to the circus’ main center in Kabul means stepping into a world of fun and colors, where boys and girls practice together and take charge of their own learning.

The Circus was founded in 2002, less than a year after the fall of the Taliban regime, which banned music and dance. While NGOs and government programs focused on building roads, schools and basic education systems, David Mason, who was a former tango dance instructor, and his co-director Berit Muhlhausen, a former journalist, focused on introducing and developing soft values that bring children together and create joyful communities.

The first idea was an orphanage with space for creativity, but they wanted to reach as many kids as possible. A traveling circus proved an excellent opportunity. After all, circus is all about overcoming fear. It's about trust. It's based on non-verbal communication; it represents a multicultural tradition, and its purpose is to make people smile.

For the last 10 years, more than 2.7 million spectators in 25 provinces have enjoyed a performance or participated in one of the hundreds of workshops, despite the reality in Afghanistan that conservative society, especially in rural provinces of Afghanistan, doesn’t accept public arts.

“If we go to remote regions and perform in a very conservative area where mullahs will say ‘no,’ then we adjust our performance,” Berit said. “Maybe we perform without music, less joking, no signing, or we start with the prayer from the holy Quran; and then they relax and see that this is harmless and it’s not dangerous.”

Mohammed Sadat, 13, from Bamiyan dreamt to become a gymnast, and once he found a circus show in one of the schools, he joined them. In the future, he said, he sees himself in two ways: first, becoming a gymnastics coach for young kids, and second, studying and becoming an engineer to help reconstructing his country. For now, he is part of the acrobatic team that builds human pyramids during performances.

In the circus garden in Kabul, girls sing and juggle with clubs and tennis balls, while boys perform backward somersaults and cartwheels and form human pyramids. All together they stage educational performances on the importance of hygiene, school attendance, landmine awareness and malaria prevention. The main goal is to entertain and give joy to an audience of their peers from camps for internally displaced people, schools and orphanages.

Shamsot, 14, is the son of an high ranking officer in the Afghan military who chose to be a circus clown. “I’m really happy to see smiles on the faces of those poor kids,” he said. Berit and David were afraid that Shamsot’s parents wouldn’t be happy with what their son is doing, but after seeing the show they encouraged him to continue training and performing with the circus.

In its centers in Kabul and Bamiyan, and with the help of trained children in other provinces, the circus organizes festivals and joyful events each year, inspiring Afghans as well as internationals to forget the dust and the war for a while - to join the fun and smile a bit.

Media created

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Ukraine Refugees 24
Donetsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
05 Feb 2015

Windows at a school for hairdressers in Donetsk are blocked with mattresses.

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Ukraine Refugees 23
Donetsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
05 Feb 2015

A man fixes windows in his apartment that were shattered by a nearby explosion.

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Ukraine Refugees 22
Donetsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
08 Feb 2015

Actors perform at the Donetsk Opera, as fighting continues on the outskirts of the city.

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Ukraine Refugees 20
Debaltsevo, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
01 Feb 2015

People from Chernukhino, now situated on the frontline of the conflict, wait to be evacuated by bus.

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Ukraine Refugees 21
Donetsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
08 Feb 2015

Actors walk the hallways of the Donetsk Opera during their
performance.

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Ukraine Refugees 19
Donetsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
06 Feb 2015

A woman in Donetsk reviews the damage to her house after weeks of fighting rocked the city.

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Ukraine Refugees 17
Debaltsevo, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
01 Feb 2015

Ukrainian soldiers patrol the streets in Debaltsevo.

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Ukraine Refugees 18
Debaltsevo, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
01 Feb 2015

Locals from Debaltsevo wait to board a truck to leave town. They have been without power, water and gas for at least ten days.

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Ukraine Refugees 16
Uglegorsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
07 Feb 2015

Locals walk the streets of Uglegorsk, recently taken by rebels in their push for territory in Ukraine's Donbass region.

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Ukraine Refugees 14
Uglegorsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
07 Feb 2015

A rebel soldier covers his face from the cold at the checkpoint in Uglegorsk, recently taken by rebels.

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Ukraine Refugees 15
Debaltsevo, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
01 Feb 2015

A man walks along the deserted road outside Debaltsevo, the scene of fierce fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia rebels.

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Ukraine Refugees 13
Uglegorsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
07 Feb 2015

Rebels receive orders from their commander at a check point in Uglegorsk.

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Ukraine Refugees 12
Uglegorsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
07 Feb 2015

Rebel soldiers prepare to take up their positions outside Uglegorsk.

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Ukraine Refugees 10
Donetsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
06 Feb 2015

People stay in a bomb shelter in Donetsk that was designed during the Cold War. Some local residents have lived in bomb shelters for more than a month, looking for cover from artillery strikes.

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Ukraine Refugees 11
Uglegorsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
07 Feb 2015

A local man talks with rebel technicians as they try to fix a destroyed Ukrainian armored personnel carrier in Uglegorsk.

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Ukraine Refugees 09
Donetsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
06 Feb 2015

People stay in a bomb shelter in Donetsk that was designed during the Cold War. Some local residents have lived in bomb shelters for more than a month, looking for cover from artillery strikes.

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Ukraine Refugees 08
Uglegorsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
06 Feb 2015

People stay in a bomb shelter in Donetsk that was designed during the Cold War. Some local residents have lived in bomb shelters for more than a month, looking for cover from artillery strikes.

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Ukraine Refugees 06
Svetlogorsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
03 Feb 2015

Refugees from Debaltsevo wait to depart in the bus that will take them to a shelter in Svetlogorsk.

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Ukraine Refugees 07
Svetlogorsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
03 Feb 2015

Refugees from Debaltsevo arrive at the sanatorium in Svyatogorsk that has been made into a shelter, some 30km from the frontline in Svetlogorsk.

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Ukraine Refugees 05
Debaltsevo, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
01 Feb 2015

Locals from Debaltsevo wait to board a truck to leave town. They have been without power, water and gas for at least ten days.

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Ukraine Refugees 02
Debaltsevo, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
01 Feb 2015

People from Chernukhino, now situated on front lines of the ongoing conflict, wait for an evacuation shuttle.

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Ukraine Refugees 03
Uglegorsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
07 Feb 2015

Elderly women walk by a destroyed house in Uglegorsk, a small city that was taken by rebels in their push to gain territory in Ukraine's Donbass region.

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Ukraine Refugees 01
Uglegorsk, Ukraine
By Sergey Ponomarev
07 Feb 2015

Destroyed tanks and armored vehicles line the main road in Uglegorsk.

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Ukraine
Lugansk
By Sergey Ponomarev
04 Jun 2014

Honour guard at the funerals of Alexander Guzai who was killed during the airstrike in Lugansk

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Ukraine
Donetsk
By Sergey Ponomarev
01 Jun 2014

Members of pro-Russian Vostok Battalion practice at their training ground in Donetsk.

As the threat of a Russian invasion into eastern Ukraine has declined and appeals for annexation by rebel politicians have gone unanswered, the pace of fighting has picked up in eastern Ukraine with both the Kiev government and the separatists trying to seize momentum.

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Ukraine
Andreyevka
By Sergey Ponomarev
04 May 2014

A kid use his hoodie to play as a masked man at the barricades outside Slavyansk where the fight between local militia and Ukraine troops happened earlier

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Ukraine
Kirovskoye
By Sergey Ponomarev
16 May 2014

Miners at the "Komsomolets Donbasa" coal mine leave the elevating lift after their shift in the town of Kirovskoye.

"It's hard to arouse the miners, but when you do, there will be trouble," said former miner. "If the miners all rise up, it will be an economic, physical and moral blow. It will be hard for everyone."

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Ukraine
Slavyansk
By Sergey Ponomarev
26 Apr 2014

People in rebel held city vote during the meeting to form the new rebel city council that they say will allow them to secede from Ukraine and seek a closer relationship with, or even annexation by, Russia.

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Ukraine
Donetsk
By Sergey Ponomarev
29 Apr 2014

Pro-Russian protester seen injured after the brief clashes with pro-Ukrainian activists in Donetsk

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Ukraine
Donetsk
By Sergey Ponomarev
29 Apr 2014

Pro-Russian protesters tear the Ukrainian flag after clashing with pro-Ukrainian rivals in Donetsk

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Ukraine
Donetsk
By Sergey Ponomarev
30 May 2014

Looters carry goods from the destroyed hypermarket in Donetsk

Marauders looted a Metro Cash & Carry hypermarket located near the Donetsk Airport when management temporarily closed the store for customer and employee safety reasons. Law and order is virtually absent in the city where pro-Russian groups have occupied several government buildings. Many in the police force have either joined the Kremlin-backed movement or have quit.

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Ukraine
Donetsk
By Sergey Ponomarev
29 May 2014

Soldier from the pro-Russian Vostok Batallion, fire from pistol to open the locked door as they check the seized administration building in Donetsk

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Ukraine
Slavyansk
By Sergey Ponomarev
09 May 2014

Pro-Russia rebel fighters watch TV showing military parade in Moscow as they prepare for their daily routine in Slavyansk.

In this war, propaganda has become the main tool of manipulation, setting some citizens against others. Some locals have become so brainwashed by Russian TV that it appeared they had no opinions of their own, mimicking only what they have heard on TV.

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Ukraine
Slavyansk
By Sergey Ponomarev
08 May 2014

Pro-Russia fighter with shotgun seen at the checkpoint in Slavyansk

Since the rebels pushed out the government here, there is a power vacuum, and the city’s sense of stability had been lost. The city is now surrounded by its country’s own army. A rebel curfew makes the streets terrifying at night, a landscape of jumpy rebel checkpoints and patrols.

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Ukraine
Donetsk
By Sergey Ponomarev
29 Apr 2014

Pro-Russian protesters walk along the main street after clashing with pro-Ukrainian activists in Donetsk.

Youth gangs and armed groups became the main force in the region, seizing administration buildings and setting up checkpoints.

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Ukraine
Slavyansk
By Sergey Ponomarev
26 Apr 2014

People attend the funeral ceremony with Sasha Lubenets, 21, who was killed during Ukraine forces attack the check point outside Slavyansk.

With few residents on the streets, the extent of rebel support is hard to measure, and there is a palpable segment of the population that wishes what has happened had not occurred, and that the rebels would fade away.

(Photo Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times)

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Ukraine
Slavyansk
By Sergey Ponomarev
25 Apr 2014

A flag of Donetsk Peoples Republic is raised over the barricades outside the airport in Karamtorsk, Ukraine, Friday April 25, 2014. (Photo Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times)

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Ukraine
Lugansk
By Sergey Ponomarev
04 Jun 2014

Relatives and honour guard at the funerals of Alexander Guzai who was killed during the airstrike in Lugansk, Ukraine, Wednesday June 4, 2014. (Photo Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times)

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Ukraine
Donetsk
By Sergey Ponomarev
01 May 2014

Pro-Russia protesters negotiate with police outside the procuratorship office that was seized later in Donetsk, Ukraine, Thursday May 1, 2014. (Photo Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times)