Germany pledges €1 million for media workers affected by war in Ukraine

People in Russia and Belarus must learn the truth about the atrocities by allowing the voices of fled media professionals to continue to be heard, said Roth. EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN / POOL

The German government has pledged €1 million to support Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian exiled media and journalists who have become refugees due to Russia’s war in Ukraine. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Hundreds of journalists have been forced to flee Russia and Belarus following crackdowns on media freedom and reporting on the war. Journalists in Ukraine have left as their towns, cities, and workplaces have come under fire.

“With propaganda and disinformation, Putin and his henchmen are trying to cover the traces of their criminal war of aggression and use all repressive means to prevent free and independent reporting on it,” said Claudia Roth, the German government’s commissioner for culture and media, in a statement on Tuesday (12 April).

She added that people in Russia and Belarus must learn the truth about the atrocities by allowing the voices of fled media professionals to continue to be heard.

From that €1 million pot, €800,000 will go to the JX Fund, a common initiative of Reporters Without Borders, the Schöpflin Foundation and the Rudolf Augstein Foundation. The remaining €200,000 will go to the Journalists-in-Residence programme of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom in Leipzig. These initiatives, which Roth hopes will be supplemented with more funds, attach great importance to the principle of neutrality.

“The German government is therefore supporting media professionals, thereby strengthening those who report independently with a journalistic work ethic and sometimes at great risk to their lives, who stand up for freedom of the press and freedom of expression and thereby defend the culture of democracy not only in their country,” Roth stressed.

Help where it is most needed 

The JX Fund acts as an unbureaucratic platform that bundles aid and distributes it to media workers in exile, where it is most needed. Its network of supporters from the media sector and civil society includes the research network CORRECTIV and the NGO Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT).

Individual journalists will receive financial support, and necessary working materials will be available.

The fund is aimed primarily at media professionals from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. In general, however, the JX fund supports exile journalism as a whole, including journalists from Afghanistan, for example.

The Journalists-in-Residence programme provides working scholarships for six months to refugee media professionals. At least half of the additional €200,000 for the programme will host those affected by the war in Ukraine.

“This amount will then go to between four and six journalists and their partners and family members,” Alina Toropova, coordinator of the programme, told EURACTIV.

Applicants must provide a letter of reference from a trusted source, such as the editor-in-chief, a trade union or a human rights organisation, confirming that they have worked as journalists for three years.

“Since we are in an emergency situation, we are trying to verify applications as soon as possible and support media workers,” Toropova also said.

The German government’s decision to help fund these programmes will at least make it easier for some Russian journalists to enter Germany. With Schengen tourist visas only being valid for up to three months, many Russians tend to flee Russia to seek refuge in former Soviet republics.

[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/Alice Taylor]

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