Ukrainian authorities have criticized German TV channel ZDF for reporting from Russian-occupied Mariupol, accusing the journalists of “distorting reality” and working “in the spirit of Russian propaganda”.
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The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Oleh Nikolenko, called on ZDF to provide an official explanation about this report, which was made by the head of the TV channel’s Moscow office, Armin Kerper.
“Distorting reality is not journalism. In addition, the visit of the head of the ZDF Moscow office to occupied Mariupol without Ukraine’s consent violates Ukrainian legislation. We call on ZDF to provide an official explanation. Violation of Ukrainian laws may affect the future work of the media in Ukraine,” Nikolenko wrote on the social network platform “X” on Friday.
The TV channel offered this report as a “rare view of the Russian occupation”. Kerper spoke of the “amount of damage” he saw even in the city center, but also noted the active regeneration of the devastated areas of the city. “Streets, schools, residential buildings and whole blocks are being renovated. It happens very quickly.”
“Mariupole is not a ghost town. This city works. There is electricity, heating. There is hot water and internet, everything is there. People live their lives here,” Kerper said. He added that there are probably no more people left in the city who do not want to live among Russians.
Ukrainian media and officials expressed the opinion that Kerper’s report gives the impression that the majority of the city’s residents are pro-Russian, and also talks about the city’s reconstruction, without emphasizing that it was destroyed by the occupiers.
After the start of this scandal, ZDF published a statement admitting that the journalist had chosen the misleading wording “the city is functioning”. “However, just highlighting this one quote does not give the full impression. “Armin Kerper most likely describes how Russia is trying to create the impression of normality and restoration by using significant financial resources,” the TV channel said.
According to the UN, Mariupol was 90% destroyed after the Russian army invaded. Ukrainian authorities estimated that at least 25,000 people died in the fighting for Mariupol.