Monika Andruszewska of Polish International Television has been reporting on the situation in Ukraine since the uprising known as Euromaidan (2013-14), especially in territories subject to Russian aggression. She has shown great maturity, courage, and attention to other people’s needs more than once.
A few days ago, she took action in a situation where she says she didn’t have to think at all about the right thing to do and hadn’t shown any special heroism. However, the world has a different opinion.
Nedim Useinow, a political scientist at the University of Warsaw, wrote on Facebook:
A brave Pole, my friend Monika Andruszewska, a great journalist and war reporter, but above all a great human being. According to the testimony of the Ukrainian soldiers in the photo (probably volunteers), she saved about 20 families under the bridge shelled by the Russians in Irpin, near Kiev. While foreign journalists were filming footage for their stations, she put down the camera and rushed to help people. Bravo! I take my hat off to her.
Dawid Wildstein was also touched by Monika Andruszewska’s attitude.
TVP’s correspondent in Ukraine (TVP World), who happens to be my friend, Monika Andruszewska, risked her life saving 30 Ukrainians by taking them from Irpin while it was being shelled. She’s a heroine…
The journalist herself explained the whole situation:
It seems to me that when Russia treats civilians as a target, it is an extreme situation and everyone here makes their own decisions.
The day before yesterday, when my friend and I drove to Romanivka near Irpin, it turned out that many civilians from Bucza and Irpin were wandering around. People were trying to escape the shelling and the advancing Russian troops. Panicked families with children, elderly, animals … They were walking along the collapsed bridge, while artillery was pounding nearby. There weren’t enough cars to evacuate them. We started transporting them and, after many trips, we managed to evacuate a total of 30 people and some animals to Kiev. These people were extremely exhausted, many of them having spent the last few days in a basement. In the meantime, a bomb fell in one of the places where we had been taking people. (…)
I get a lot of really warm messages, including requests to be in the media and tell stories about it. I’m sorry, but no. I was just doing what I had to do and there’s no need to shine in the media about that now. Thanks, but there’s really nothing special here. The truth is that I got used to driving under fire in the last few years and I didn’t really think about it.
As she adds, those who were not mentioned in the media were quite heroic.
For me, the woman who shouted, “Take my mother away,” and forced us to wait for her elderly mother to get to the car, was much more heroic. My friend, who goes with me as a driver and has balls of steel, will not boast about it in any media, because he comes from the Donbas area under Russian occupation. Victoria, a girl who, instead of running away alone, brought with her two dogs, including a giant Malamute. Or her neighbor, who left Victoria with us and returned on foot to Irpin for someone else’s children. I tried to convince him to stay. There was no argument. He had already made his decision. He went. He did not return.
The controversy remains as to what role journalists should play in the event of an armed conflict. Should they be involved or should they remain strictly as observers? The case of this reporter speaks to the need for personal discernment and a prudential decision between serving as uninvolved journalists and saving lives. As she says, she made that decision. She is aware that there are those who criticize her for it. However, from now on she knows that 30 people consider her the best journalist they could come across in their lives. Thirty, and many more.