Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski has been killed outside of Kyiv amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine after his vehicle was “struck by incoming fire”, the news network has announced.
Ukraine’s ministry of defence said on Tuesday that a Ukrainian producer, Oleksandra Kurshynova, was also killed in the same incident a day earlier, blaming Russian troops for the attack.
Fox News presenter Bill Hemmer announced Zakrzewski’s death on air on Tuesday morning, calling the late journalist an “absolute legend” at the news channel.
“His loss is devastating. He has been with us for years covering wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria,” Hemmer said.
“Our CEO Suzanne Scott noted a few moments ago that Pierre jumped in to help out with all sorts of roles in the field – photographer, engineer and editor and producer, and he did it all under immense pressure and with tremendous skill.”
The truth is the target. Russian troops fired at Fox News camera crew near Kyiv. Cameraman Pierre Zakrevsky and producer Oleksandra Kurshynova were killed. Journalist Benjamin Hall survived, but lost part of his leg. #RussianWarCrimesinUkraine
— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) March 15, 2022
The deaths of Zakrzewski and Kurshynova bring the death toll among journalists in the war to five, according to Ukrainian accounts. United States filmmaker Brent Renaud was fatally injured over the weekend while covering the conflict.
Earlier in the day – before Zakrzewski’s and Kurshynova’s deaths were made public – the Ukrainian parliament’s human rights chief Lyudmyla Denisova said dozens of journalists had been wounded and at least three were killed in the fighting.
“At least 35 journalists have become victims” of Russian forces, including three who died, Denisova wrote on Telegram.
Renaud was shot dead on Sunday outside of Kyiv. Ukrainian journalist Evgeny Sakun died in an attack on a Kyiv television tower and Viktor Dudar, another Ukrainian reporter, was killed in fighting close to the southern port city of Mykolaiv, she said.
I extend my heartfelt condolences to the family of Brent Renaud who lost his life while documenting the ruthlessness & evil inflicted upon 🇺🇦 people by Russia. May Brent’s life & sacrifice inspire the world to stand up in fight for the forces of light against forces of darkness. pic.twitter.com/bvQjM470OU
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 14, 2022
Zakrzewski was 55 years old. In Horenka on Kyiv’s outskirts, the cameraman’s vehicle was hit on Monday when he was with Fox correspondent Benjamin Hall, who was injured by the incident and remains hospitalised, Fox News reported. The Ukrainian ministry of defence said in a tweet that Hall lost part of his leg.
“His passion and talent as a journalist were unmatched … He was profoundly committed to telling the story and his bravery, professionalism and work ethic were renowned among journalists at every media outlet,” Scott said in an internal memo announcing Zakrzewski’s death.
“He was wildly popular — everyone in the media industry who has covered a foreign story knew and respected Pierre.”
Russia launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24 after a months-long standoff that saw Moscow amass troops near the Ukrainian border as it demanded an end to NATO expansion into former Soviet republics.
The war, which prompted a swift sanctions campaign by the US and its allies against Russia, has pushed nearly three million people to flee Ukraine, according to the United Nations, as Russian forces besiege and bombard Ukrainian towns and cities.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based watchdog, has called for “the protection of Ukrainian journalists, along with the international reporters and media workers who join them in covering the conflict, and asked Ukraine to exempt them from compulsory military service”.
On Tuesday, numerous reporters and colleagues paid tribute to Zakrzewski.
“I worked with Pierre many times around the world. He was an absolute treasure. Sending our most heartfelt prayers to Pierre’s wife and family,” Fox anchor John Roberts wrote on Twitter.
Several US lawmakers eulogised Zakrzewski, referring to him as an American journalist. Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheal Martin said the cameraman was an Irish citizen.
“Deeply disturbed and saddened by the killing of Irish citizen and journalist Pierre Zakrzewski and one of his colleagues today,” Martin wrote on Twitter.
“My thoughts are with their families, friends and fellow journalists. We condemn this indiscriminate and immoral war by Russia on #Ukraine.”