Anastasiya Stanko becomes first in Ukraine to win International Press Freedom Award
Anastasiya Stanko became the first Ukrainian journalist to be awarded with the 2018 International Press Freedom Award, a prominent journalism prize given by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a U.S.-based non-profit organization.
Founded in 1991, the annual International Press Freedom Award celebrates journalists from all over the world who have been defending press freedom despite attacks, threats or imprisonment.
Stanko, a journalist at Hromadske television and news site, which she also co-founded in 2013, received the award on Nov. 20 in New York. She shared the award with three journalists from Vietnam, Venezuela and Sudan.
“It has been four years since I filed my first report from the war-zone in Eastern Ukraine, and today I’m standing on this stage not only as Nastya Stanko, a journalist of the Hromadske television station, but also as a representative of many Ukrainian investigative journalists who report on war and corruption in my country,” Stanko said upon receiving the prize.
“Honest journalism is the best form of patriotism,” she added.
Stanko has been covering the Euromaidan Revolution that ousted then-president Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22, 2014, as well as Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its invasion of eastern Ukraine in spring 2014.
In her award speech, Stanko spoke of Ukrainian journalist Georgiy Gongadze, who was kidnapped and killed in 2000, as well as BelarusianUkrainian journalist Pavel Sheremet, killed by a car bomb in Kyiv in 2016.
The perpetrators of Gongadze’s murder were jailed 13 years after the killing, but the mastermind behind it was never found. Then-President Leonid Kuchma was implicated in the murder, with tapes being leaked where he orders to shut down the critical journalist. In Sheremet’s case, the investigation hasn’t even identified any suspects.
Gongadze’s wife, head of the Ukrainian service of Voice of America Myroslava Gongadze was in the audience during the award ceremony.
Stanko said the attacks on journalists in Ukraine might be an attempt to frighten the journalists who cover Russia’s war in eastern Ukraine, as well as the war against Ukrainian corruption.
She herself has been the victim of attacks on online trolls and suffered threats when she called journalists to avoid hate speech when reporting about the Russian-backed separatist fighters in Ukraine’s east. In 2016, she was under fire from pro-government bloggers who accused her of giving out positions of Ukrainian army in Donbas in her coverage, which she and Hromadske denied.
“This award is not about my personal achievements,” Stanko said. “It is a sign of what Ukrainian journalists have to deal with, while moving our country towards Europe and the rest of the civilized world and their values, (including) respect for freedom of speech and human rights, transparency and accountability of those in power, respect for human dignity, equality and non-violence.”
Hromadske TV journalist Anastasiya Stanko receives the 2018 International Press Freedom Award in New York on Nov. 20, 2018. The award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, a U.S.-based advocacy group, celebrates journalists who defend press freedom worldwide. (Hromadske)