An Interview with Ukrainian journalist Lina Kush who was displaced from Donetsk

Kyiv, Ukraine: Thousands of people had to flee and displaced themselves from Eastern Ukraine during year 2014 and onward due to Russian Aggression launched in eastern Ukraine. One of such people was a seasoned journalist Lina Vladimirovna Kush.

This week, representatives of Radio DND met and interviewed this distinguished Ukrainian journalist who is now the first secretary of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.

In her interview, Lina Kush explained hard times she and other Ukrainian people and journalists faced before they managed to move out of dangerous zone.
Lina was born and lived in Donetsk. She graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of Taras Shevchenko Kyiv State University.

Lina Vladimirovna Kush
Lina Vladimirovna Kush the first secretary of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine with Chief Editor of DND News Agency Agha Iqrar Haroon

Lina Kushch until 2014 lived and worked in Donetsk as Correspondent of the parliamentary newspaper “Voice of Ukraine”. Because of the danger that Ukrainian journalists would remain in the occupied part of Donbass, she had to go with her family to the territory controlled by the Ukrainian authorities,  and she remained an active participant events and truthfully covered the news about events.

Lina recalls the events of 2014 and said:

At one of the rallies, where there were many large and small Russian flags, and this rally would have been as massive and unexpected as we, the journalists knew that something had changed.

The people who appeared on the square did not know Donetsk city, were not oriented in the city, asked us how to get to the central square, did not know how the transport goes, how the streets are called, etc.—- Of course they were not local people and they were injected from Russia into the region. “These were people came from Russia, and we called them political tourists. In Donetsk at that time there was a part of people supporting pro-Russian sentiments, there were a few about Russian organizations. The maximum they were capable of was two actions a year and a protest on the central square. They also did not take part in local elections, parliamentary and presidential elections. Everything else was in the virtual space. And when I saw several thousand unfamiliar faces, I realized that something had changed. Participants of the anti-Maidan put forward their demands at a meeting of the regional council, where they had to consider their demands for a referendum and the federalization of Ukraine.

The rally participants rushed into the room where the meeting was held, and blocked everyone, including journalists. The crowd was very aggressive, they smashed windows, smashed chairs and kept all of us on the blog for several hours.

They checked IDs of Journalists and they were looking for Kiev journalists. Maybe it somehow saved me. Donetsk journalists were not a threat to them.

After these events, I continued to cover the events taking place with Ukrainian activists. It was risky, because people went to the protests, knowing that nearby local authorities did not give consent to such meetings.

“These confrontations ended in a great humiliation of Ukrainian activists. They were put on their knees, various objects, metal pipes, etc. were thrown at them. We believe that the war began from the streets of our city on March 13, 2014 when Ukrainian rally leader Dmitry Chernyavsky was killed. After this incident, I began to use a pseudonym. It became dangerous to work as a Ukrainian journalist in Donetsk. Representatives of the Ukrainian channels hunted, they worked without a trace.
So, I moved to Kiev with my family. There were no problems with relocation, as we had relatives and friends. In addition, my husband and I continued our work as journalists.

In 2015, in Kiev, Lina Kush headed the correspondent network section of the Voice of Ukraine newspaper.

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In May 2017, she was elected secretary of the NUJU responsible for assisting journalists from Donbass. December 21, 2017 at a meeting of the Council of NUJU unanimously elected the first secretary of the union.

Lina Kush has experience in long-term cooperation with international media including Reuters news agency and the Ukrainian BBC service.