Latvian reporters in Ukraine: Ina Strazdiņa of Latvian Television

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. 

According to Latvian Television journalist Ina Strazdiņa, going to Ukraine is not so much a choice as an obligation if you are serious about being a foreign news editor and correspondent. 

Strazdiņa is no stranger to hotspots since 2004, when she visited Latvian soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Her work has also taken her to Mali, Syria and Kosovo. She goes to Ukraine alternately with another reporter, Gints Amoliņš, with a cameraman and often a driver in the team. Ina is currently on her twelfth visit to Ukraine.

"This, unlike all the previous conflicts I have been in, is closer to us – geographically, mentally. I would even like to describe it as in our 'front yard'. We feel Ukrainians as our own.

We know what can happen, God forbid, if Russia invades us - it's so close! Of course, even as a journalist, reporting, working on the spot it feels emotionally close," says Ina.

There are no huge differences in culture or religion, as there are when covering countries on other continents, making it easier to deal with practicalities like booking hotels or renting apartments, admits Ina. However, there is one huge gap difference to previous wars: this is arguably the first war where journalists themselves have become targets.

"Previously, wherever you went – to Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq – putting the words 'Press' on your body armor or helmet was a certain guarantee that you were in a safer position. Here, in Ukraine, on the contrary, it can be a greater danger, because Russian troops are targeting journalists," says Ina.

The inscription 'Press' is used by journalists from Latvia, but the Press sign is removed when recommended by Ukrainians near the front. It is necessary to continue, says Ina, no matter how great the fatigue is. And then it's so good to come home again.

"It hits your [sense of] femininity, of course. You want to take a moment for yourself when you come home, put on a dress, high-heeled shoes, maybe relax a bit," admits the journalist.

What do war reporters dream of doing after the war is over?

Ina answers simply – to meet parents and friends in Latvia, to watch missed movies. Ieva thinks about her private life, which is currently "put on pause". But she is also adamant that after the war, she will return to Ukraine again – to make reports about how it recovers.

(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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