Bogdan Bitik, a journalist from Ukraine, was killed while travelling to the city of Kherson with an Italian colleague on Wednesday. Bitik who was working as an interpreter for La Repubblica reporter Corrado Zunino, was shot, according to the Italian newspaper, “most likely by Russian snipers”.
Zunino is currently undergoing treatment after being shot in the shoulder.
From a hospital bed, he revealed to La Repubblica that they had just passed three Ukrainian checks when they were abruptly hit.
“I heard a hiss, and I saw Bogdan on the ground,” Zunino told Al Jazeera.
“He wasn’t moving. I crawled out of the line of fire. I ran until I passed a civilian car. I was full of blood. I had to be taken to Kherson Hospital.”
He added that he had been trying to call Bitik, who he described as “a great friend”, but got no answer.
“It’s excruciating,” he said.
Zunino claims that both men were wearing press vests when they were attacked next to the demolished Antonivskyi Bridge.
The Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, at least 15 media professionals and journalists have died there.
The leader of the Ukrainian National Union of Journalists, Sergiy Tomilenko, branded the incident a “new war crime of the Russians” and urged Italian organisations and publications, including La Repubblica, to do more to safeguard Ukrainian reporters.
“I’m fine. But I’m sad to have lost a friend,” Zunino said in an interview on the Breakfast Club show at Radio Capital.
“I went on five missions with Bogdan. I’ve known him since I first arrived in Ukraine. He had returned to Ukraine from Indonesia, where he has a wife and a son. I have just spoken to his wife. They are all extraordinary, kind and generous people”.
As reported by La Repubblica, the body of Bitik has not yet been found.
Kherson was taken over in the early stages of the war before being freed by Ukrainian forces in November 2022.
After retreating across the Dnipro River, Russian forces have since regularly attacked the area with artillery, missiles, drone attacks, and sniper attacks.