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Boryana Katsarova August 18, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ukraine.
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Lenin Square,  Simferopol, Crimea 2014

Boryana Katsarova (b. 1981, Bulgaria) studied photography between 1998 and 2003 and holds a Bachelors Degree from the Bulgarian National Academy for Theater and Cinema Art /NATFA/. She worked as a photographer for Agence France-Press in Bulgaria between 2007 and 2010, during which time her work appeared in major print magazines and newspapers around the world. In 2010 she decided to became a freelance photographer specializing in documentary, editorial and portrait photography and since 2011 has been represented  the Cosmos Photo Agency in Paris. This image is part of a project : Ukraine: Crimea Under Siege that was funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

About the Photograph:

“The people in the photograph were attending one of the many pro-Russian rallies which were held in Simferopol and across the entire Crimean peninsula in support of the unification of Crimea with Russia ahead of the unique and internationally unrecognized Crimean Referendum that was held on March 16, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin officially recognized  the ‘reunification’ of breakaway Ukrainian region of Crimea with Russia on March 18, 2014.”

“It was really difficult to take this picture. Many people were against being photographed. It was the first time I was working in a crisis zone and the first time I have ever experienced anything like that. Just two days before, masked gunmen ran towards me and  journalist Dimiter Kenarov and pushed him on the ground. They put a gun to his head demanding his smart phone he was taking pictures with. After that they ran to me and took my Nikon D3 camera. We left Ukraine three weeks after I took this picture.”

“Today, more than five months after the Crimean crisis, the unrest in eastern Ukraine is continuing and the climate for press freedom worsens everyday. Many local and international journalists covering the situation are being interrogated, targeted, their equipment seized, and the number of the ones being killed is growing. In my opinion, nowadays bearing witness as photojournalist, cameraman or reporter in crisis and war zones is a duty, that is much harder and much more responsible than ever before.”