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American Journalist Killed by Russian Forces in Ukraine

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Mike Coppola

Mike Coppola

American journalist and documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud has been killed in Irpin, Ukraine, according to the chief of police of Kyiv.

Renaud, whose New York Times press pass and American passport were posted on social media, was a legendary filmmaker, covering some of the world’s worst human tragedies. The New York Times said in a statement that he was not on assignment for them and that their press pass with his name and photo was old.

CBS News said Monday that it had confirmed Renaud was killed by Russian forces.

“A 51-year-old world-renowned media correspondent was shot in Irpen today,” local police chief Andriy Nebytov posted on Facebook. “Another journalist is injured. Now they are trying to remove the victim from the war zone. Of course, the profession of a journalist is a risk, but U.S. citizen Brent Renaud paid his life for trying to highlight the aggressor’s ingenuity, cruelty and ruthlessness.”

Juan Arredondo, who was traveling with Renaud during the attack and hospitalized for his injuries, told a journalist that the two had tried crossing a bridge in Irpin to film refugees leaving when they were attacked by Russian forces at a checkpoint.

“We got into a car—somebody offered to take us to the other bridge, and we crossed the checkpoint and they [started] shooting at us,” Arredondo said. “So the driver turned around, and they kept shooting.”

He said he saw Renaud get shot in the neck.

The journalist’s death comes after days of fierce street battles in Irpin, a suburb about three miles outside Kyiv, which led to the deaths of multiple civilians. It was in Irpin where the slain bodies of a family of three—including a small child—were photographed by The New York Times, becoming a symbol for the world of the horror caused by Putin’s war.

Brent and his brother Craig, working under the moniker Renaud Brothers, have won several awards for their documentary work, including a Peabody and two Columbia DuPont awards.

The brothers have reported from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as natural disasters like the Haiti earthquake. He and his brother have also covered political extremism in Egypt, Libya, and across Africa.

One of the Renaud brothers’ recent productions is Meth Storm, about the drug crisis in Arkansas, where they grew up. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Brent explained why they were drawn to the topic.

“There’s so much judgement and analysis on people who use drugs in our culture and on social media and cable news. Our work was the reaction to that notion,” he said. “We were trying to embed ourselves in places where most people couldn’t go and allow those characters to reveal themselves to us and show context and empathy for their stories.”

Renaud had taken risks from the very start of his career to bring the public stories from war zones.

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He told Filmmaker magazine in 2013 that when he was just out of college he financed a trip to Cambodia and got an interview with a top general of two rival prime ministers.

“On the first day filming I found myself on the wrong side of town with the wrong players, and nearly got killed when the car I was riding in busted through a military checkpoint, drawing fire on the car from the soldiers,” he said. “On another occasion I jumped on a motorbike with a translator and rode into the jungle for an interview with a villager I had managed to set up. What I failed to realize was that the subject I was to interview lived in a village still controlled by the Khmer Rouge, the brutal communist rebels who were responsible for killing one third of the entire population of the country in the 1970’s.

“Things got bad enough that it required a heavily armed military—fortunately orchestrated by the general I had made friends with at the beginning of the trip.”

He told the magazine that he and his brother had been in Cairo covering a crackdown of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Just pulling out video cameras on the streets there to document the demonstrations was impossible to do safely,” he said. “Twice we were attacked by thugs who did not want the brutal tactics of the military witnessed by the international media.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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