Latvian reporters in Ukraine: Indra Sprance of Latvian Radio

In Latvian media, several reporters have become familiar voices reporting from the war in Ukraine. Ieva Vārna from TV3, Ina Strazdiņa from Latvian Television (LTV) and Indra Sprance from Latvian Radio have all filed moving and powerful reports from the front lines as well as telling stories about those behind the front lines in Ukraine. Over three days LSM will profile these excellent, brave journalists. 

Indra Sprance

Latvian Radio's Indra Sprance was already a well-known voice on Latvian Radio when she went to Ukraine. Previously Indra was an investigative journalist for more than 10 years, unraveling corruption schemes, most recently on the investigative show "Open Files".

"If someone told me a couple of years ago – you will be a journalist in a war-torn country – I would say that person doesn't know me, because that was absolutely not my direction," admits Indra.

She had no formal training as a war reporter, but when February 24, 2022 came, Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine resonated with her heightened sense of injustice.

"We had a meeting in the editorial office, and I said that someone should go there, to tell about it. The colleague who had gone through the training was not ready to go, and no one else was either. So I said "Yes, I will go," says Indra.

Latvian Radio journalist Indra Sprance
Latvian Radio journalist Indra Sprance

Indra arrived in Ukraine three days after the start of the war together with the experienced hotspot reporter Atis Klimovičs. In the opposite direction, streams of refugees flowed – desperate women with children, and men saying goodbye to their families, perhaps forever.

"There was a readiness and unity to defend their country by any means," says Indra.

Indra returned to the front again in the first spring of the war to report on what was happening. She completed special training in May, which she says gave her very valuable experience. More than 20 journalists have died in Ukraine, most of them at the beginning of the war.

In the late autumn of 2022, she decided to stay in Ukraine on a longer-term basis.

"I believe that the Latvian media needs a correspondent not only in Brussels, but also here in Ukraine. It's simple - I think that there is nothing more important than what is happening in Ukraine right now. How will this war end, what could be its consequences?" says the journalist.

Her apartment near the center of Kyiv has become both an office and a base for trips closer to the front – to Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv and elsewhere.

Indra usually travels alone, and has just returned from Donbass. This winter, unlike last, her Kyiv home has regular electricity, but drone attacks on the Ukrainian capital continue.

"It feels like they have become even stronger lately. There are moments when you are sitting and there are such bangs that the curtains sway, car alarms start sounding, the situation is very unpleasant," admits Indra.

At such moments, Indra hides in the bathroom, but in serious cases rushes to the subway. The apartment was chosen carefully – not to be in a panel-built house, not higher than the third floor.

Her habits have changed, too. 

"When I enter [a new place], I immediately look for where the emergency exit is. That feeling of safety, if you know the room, then you know, if something suddenly falls on you, which way to run out," says the journalist.

Indra took her dog, Bruno, with her to Ukraine. A four-legged friend helps you not to break down psychologically by clearing your head on regular walks. However, it turned out that the hunting dog, which was not afraid of shots in Latvia, is more afraid of airstrikes than she is herself. Also, when Indra is out on assignment, Bruno needs someone to look after him.

"The feeling when you sit in the bathroom with a dog on your lap... I sometimes sing to him, too. I look at myself from the side and laugh: Latvian songs in Kyiv, in the bathroom, accompanied by the sounds of rockets falling in the background."

(l-r) LTV journalist Ina Strazdiņa, Latvian Radio  journalist Indra Sprance and TV3 journalist Ieva...
(l-r) LTV journalist Ina Strazdiņa, Latvian Radio journalist Indra Sprance and TV3 journalist Ieva Vārna in Lviv, Ukraine

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