In reaction to the war triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 and the ensuing crisis in Europe, France Médias Monde (FMM) and CFI launched the Yak Vdoma project in spring 2022, to help local journalists safely produce independent, conflict-sensitive coverage of the war and the regional crisis.
Yak Vdoma (“just like home” in Ukrainian) puts emphasis on editorial and operational support and capacity building for freelance journalists in exile, in a safe place outside Ukraine, yet not too far away. A residence in Bucharest, Romania, is hosting nine Ukrainian journalists (eight women and one man) from various regions of the country, especially those that have recently been “liberated”. Two beneficiaries have come with their family. CFI has provided support in the form of grants to acquire equipment, logistics to organise their departure from Ukraine and their arrival in Bucharest, monthly stipends to cover the cost of living and psychosocial support with Ukrainian-speaking psychologists on hand.
Workshops, meetings and solidarity-led events
An ambitious training programme was put together to meet editorial needs and maintain media diversity. Workshops on cybersecurity and physical security, conducted in partnership with several specialist structures (Nothing2Hide, Democracy Reporting International, Hei-Da and La Maison des Journalistes) were also offered to these journalists who overnight found themselves improvising as war correspondents. With support from local partners and the Institut français in Bucharest, a socio-cultural programme was also launched, with over 15 solidarity-led events and initiatives conducted in the last quarter of 2022.
The journalists cover a wide variety of themes: the transformation of Ukrainian society, the role of women in the conflict, the reality of Russian occupation, Ukrainian culture and art in wartime with a postcolonial approach, healthcare, education and the integration of Ukrainian communities in Romania. Over 40 articles have already been published on platforms (Facebook and Telegram) and two works are currently being published.
« The past three months at the residence have been an opportunity to continue my work and contribute to Ukrainian journalism, despite all the difficulties my country is facing (…). This project is called Just like home, but our current conditions are actually much better than at home. » Julia Fomicheva,Ukrainian journalist
Yak Vdoma puts the spotlight on the heroic work performed by these freelance journalists who continue to provide news reports and make the voices of victims of the conflict and Ukrainian civilians heard, even as their country has been subjected to an onslaught of bombs from the Russian army. CFI deployed this project in partnership with France Médias Monde (FMM) and its subsidiary RFI Romania, and in synergy with the launch of RFI’s Ukrainian newsroom, also based in Bucharest.
« After five years in Ukraine, working on the Yak Vdoma residence project is a genuine commitment to help push back on Russian misinformation and make sure that the voices of independent Ukrainian journalists are heard. The residence is a project of regional importance, a response to pressure exerted by Russia on the media in what Russians call the ‘‘near abroad’’, pressure that has undoubtedly been underestimated in the past decade. » Timothée de Maillard, Project Manager for Yak Vdoma