Brent Renaud: Tributes paid to the American journalist killed in Ukraine

Kyiv, Ukraine

Award-winning American journalist Brent Renaud was killed by Russian forces in the Ukrainian town of Irpin, the police of Kyiv said in social media posts on Sunday. Another American journalist, Juan Arredondo, was injured.

In a tweet, Kyiv region police identified the dead as Renaud, who was 50 years old. Police released a photo of his body and his US passport as evidence, along with a photo of an outdated New York Times press badge bearing Renaud’s name.

Andriy Nebitov, the Kyiv region’s police chief, said in a Facebook post that Russian forces shot Renaud, adding that “the occupiers are cynically killing even journalists from international media, who tried to tell the truth about the atrocities committed by the Russian army in Ukraine.”

“Of course, journalism involves risks, but American citizen Brent Renaud paid with his life for an attempt to shed light on the devious, cruel and ruthless character of the attacker,” Nebitov added.

CNN has not independently verified the account given by the police.

Renaud is the first foreign journalist known to have been killed during the war in Ukraine. A Ukrainian cameraman, Yevhenii Sakun, was reportedly killed in the Kyiv TV tower bombing earlier this month.

Press freedom groups have denounced Sunday’s violence as a violation of international law.

“Russian forces in Ukraine must immediately cease all violence against journalists and other civilians, and whoever killed Renaud must be held accountable,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement.

Time magazine told CNN that Renaud, an acclaimed filmmaker, has been in Ukraine for the past few weeks working on “a Time Studios project focused on the global refugee crisis.”

“Our hearts are with all of Brent’s loved ones,” the post said. “It is essential that journalists can safely cover this invasion and ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.”

Arredondo, a Colombian-American photographer, appeared in a social media video from Kyiv’s Okhmatdyt Hospital and recounted the shooting. He said he and Renaud were walking through a checkpoint in Irpin to film refugees leaving the town when Russian forces opened fire.

Arredondo said there were “two of us” and Renaud was “shot down and left behind”, adding that Renaud had been shot in the neck. “We separated and I was pulled into the (stretcher).” When asked how he got to the hospital, he replied: “an ambulance, I don’t know”.

Arredondo, a filmmaker and visual journalist who is also an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School, posted photos from Zhytomyr, Ukraine on Saturday, noting in an Instagram post that he is “#onassignment.”

Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll told CNN: “We have no independent information about his injuries at this time, but we are now working to find out more and to see if we can help. ”

Arredondo is a prominent photographer, with work featured in The New York Times, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, ESPN, Vanity Fair and other outlets, according to his personal bio on the website.

Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister, said in a statement on Telegram that Renaud “paid with his life for trying to expose the insidiousness, cruelty and cruelty of the aggressor”.

Irpin in northern Ukraine, just outside Kyiv, has been the scene of heavy Russian shelling in recent days and suffered extensive destruction, the Kyiv regional government said on Friday.

Renaud was a Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer, and journalist who lived and worked in New York City and Little Rock, Arkansas, according to his biography on the Renaud brothers website.

Along with his brother Craig, Renaud has spent years “telling humanistic truth stories from hotspots around the world,” including projects in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Egypt and Libya, according to his website bio.

Ann Marie Lipinski, director of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, said the foundation was “sick at the heart” over the death of the journalist, who was a Nieman Scholar at Harvard in 2019.

“Our Nieman Fellow Brent Renaud was gifted and kind, and his work was imbued with humanity. He was killed today outside kyiv, and the world and journalism are less well for it. We are heartbroken,” she said in a Tweeter.

A publication on the Facebook of the Renaud Brothers pagedated March 8, urged readers to follow their coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Christof Putzel, a friend and colleague of Renaud, told CNN his death was a “devastating” loss.

“I woke up this morning to the news that Brent, longtime best friend, incredible colleague, the best war reporter that ever lived, found out that he was dead,” Putzel said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

“Brent had this ability to go anywhere, get any story, listen and communicate what was going on to people that other people wouldn’t otherwise see. And that’s a loss. devastating for journalism today,” he added.

Putzel said Renaud was working on a documentary about refugees around the world when the crisis in Ukraine started. He said “Brent was on the plane the next day” and covered the plight of refugees from Kyiv in Poland.

Several years ago, the couple won a duPont award for a story they worked on about firearms smuggled into Mexico from the United States.

“What I said when we accepted our award was that the only thing bigger than Brent’s balls is his heart. And I stand by that. That’s the kind of journalist that he was,” Putzel said.

Renaud had a unique ability to make people trust him as he told their stories in places like Iraq and other war zones, he added.

“You could sit down and spend a week watching all of Brent’s stories over the years and just be flabbergasted,” Putzel said. “The career he’s had, his ability to reach people, his ability to capture the humanity behind people’s suffering is something I’ve never seen before, and I was honored to work with him. as long as I did.”

– CNN’s Clarissa Ward reported from Kyiv, Mick Krever reported from Poland, Brian Stelter reported from New York and Lauren Kent wrote from London.

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