Ramina Eshakzai is a well-known Ukrainian journalist who films the de-occupation of the Ukrainian cities and hot spots on the Ukrainian frontline. She agreed to take The Baltic Times questions about the difficulty of the filming, how she ended up being under mortar fire in Bakhmut and she reflects on the general situation in Ukraine.
Tell us about your social releases, like those videos from the frontlines. Is it difficult to shoot them? Do you have protection in de-occupied cities? Who travels with you and is it easy to get your team there?
It is always hard to create a social video because before a shooting, I have to call different institutions to ask permission for it. When I decided to make a video about Bakhmut, my video operators said that they didn't want to risk their lives. I had one day to find a new cameraman.
You visited the frontlines of the town of Bakhmut. How long had you planned this trip? Was it scary? What did you see there? Why don't the local people want to leave?
Having the chance to visit Bakhmut was surprising even to me, because I was planning to shoot a video about our military and doctors in the Donetsk region, but not anything directly in Bakhmut.
Several days before our departure in the Donetsk region, I had a call from a volunteer, who proposed to go with him to Bakhmut. I called the police in this region, got permission from the press officer, and said "yes" to Denis, the volunteer.
It was scary only during a mortar shelling. People who live there don't want to leave their homes, because that is where they were born and have lived all their lives.
When you were in Bakhmut, did you come under a mortar fire? Have you ever thought that something bad will happen to you or anyone on your team and that you will be the one to blame?
I don't think about bad things, because I was with our military. And when you are sitting in Kyiv, it is not a safe city either. Nowadays there is no safe place in Ukraine.
How do you manage to shoot so many soldiers and prisoners? Why do they agree to an interview?
First of all, I want to speak to and about our soldiers. I have a popular channel with a big audience of civil people that live their own lives, donate, and wait for our victory. And for my audience, it is not a simple thing to hear information directly from the frontline. I am independent media, I do my project with my own money, so I can show all truth I witness on the frontline.
Our soldiers write to me and ask me to show their life and the fight on the frontline, so I just do my work.
Speaking of the prisoners, I shoot the videos to show how Russian propaganda works. I want to show how stupid our enemy is. They want to kill us, because we live better than them. They don't want to concentrate attention on their problems in the country, but use genocide on our nation.
What are your plans for further projects? What cities are you going to visit after the de-occupation?
I want to make interviews with other military people, politicians, stars, and civilians alike. I want to tell the truth about the Russian-Ukrainian war. My work is to fix war crimes of the Russians in Ukraine.
Is it difficult now to fight in the information field? Does the government support you in any cause?
It is hard, but I must do it. I am one of the most popular YouTube journalists in our country, If I want to be the best, I must be with our people at different times, not only produce glam - interview content. War is our reality. I don't have any support from the government, but they give me freedom in my journalistic field, and it is real democracy.
In your opinion, how did the war change Ukrainian citizens? Have all Ukrainians become united and ready to fight to the end?
I don’t think we will ever be the same, as we were before 24.02.2022. We are strong, we believe in our victory and we recognize that Russians and Putin are evil. Not only Putin, but Russians also must pay a big price for this genocide of Ukrainians.