Reported from Lviv: Ukraine reporter with gloomy prognosis: “Don’t see the glimmer of hope”
The experienced TV reporter Tatjana Ohm has been reporting from Lviv in the Ukraine for weeks. In an interview, she explains how the people in the city are doing during the war and why she unfortunately sees no glimmer of hope at the moment.
“In 1992 I became a journalist because of the war in my home country,” recalls the German-Bosnian Tatjana Ohm. The 52-year-old, who worked for many years as a war reporter and foreign correspondent, is now the chief moderator and a member of the editorial board of the news channel WELT. Now the experienced journalist is again reporting as a correspondent from a war zone: she has been working for her station in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv for a few weeks, where she says she meets people who she finds “admirably stable in their attitude”, people who “Live normalcy as long as possible and defy the war”.
In the interview, Tatjana Ohm gives an insight into her current everyday life in Lviv and reveals a few things about her professional attitude. “Journalism is not a job for me. It’s a calling,” she says. “To be there when history is made, to question people and question what happened: I am still grateful that my path led me into this profession.”
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teleschau: Your career began almost exactly 30 years ago as a war correspondent from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Now you are in Lviv, Ukraine, for WELT to report on the war there as well. You probably wouldn’t have had to do that as the chief moderator. What made you do this?
Tatyana Ohm: Especially as someone who has “boss” in the title and thus has responsibility and a role model function, I felt it as an obligation, alongside the many other colleagues from “Welt” and “Bild”, who are currently from and about Ukraine report doing the same themselves. The Russian war of aggression is a historic event, reporting on the spot is also particularly important to me because it closes a circle. In fact, my first experience as a war correspondent was in the Bosnian war in the early 1990s.
teleschau: How are people in western Ukraine dealing with this war?
Ohm: The people of Lviv seem to me admirably stable in their attitude: as long as possible, live normality and defy the war. But at the same time taking care of the refugees who have fled here from the contested parts of the country with incredible commitment.
teleschau: Is there also hatred?
Ohm: I haven’t felt hatred yet. Anger yes, but above all the unconditional will not to be defeated.
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teleshow: To what extent have attitudes and moods in Lviv changed under the impact of the images of the recent Bucha atrocities?
Ohm: There is indescribable horror, sadness and compassion for the survivors and bereaved. The will to win seems to be fueled by the atrocities and the pictures of the murdered civilians.
teleshow: Isn’t there also a fear in Lviv that something like this could happen anywhere in the country?
Ohm: Here in Lviv, due to the city’s location, this fear is not that great. The people here try, as far as possible, to continue living normally, not to let their everyday life be taken away from them.
teleshow: The city, or more precisely the airport, has also been the target of rocket attacks. How safe do you feel as a reporter in Lviv?
Ohm: Here in Lviv I have never feared for my life or the safety of my team. The attack on the airport was heard and seen, but no civilian facilities have been attacked in the center itself. That enables us journalists to work relatively normally here. Nevertheless: Almost every day there are several air raid alarms. When the sirens sound, when people seek shelter in the bunker, it becomes clear that Lviv is a city at war. Luckily so far not to the extent and with the horror that prevails in other Ukrainian regions.
teleshow: What expectations do the residents of the city have of the German TV reporter?
Ohm: People tell their stories and I experience a lot of gratitude. A few days ago, two young women approached me, after a short conversation they gave me a small bouquet of flowers and thanked us for being journalists and reporting on the fate of their country. That touched me very much.
“We must be aware that propaganda and lies are part of this war”
teleschau: The debates about the pictures from Butscha make it abundantly clear that this is more than ever a media war. Not only is there a fight between the countries involved, Russia and Ukraine, for the sovereignty of interpretation – there are also a lot of arguments in this country about questions of truth and forgery, especially in social media. That means: The responsibility for you as a reporter is enormous. How does that affect your work?
Ohm: I don’t see that as a burden. It takes more time to check the many sources, to double-check, to look for other sources again. That is the core of our journalistic work: look twice, at least. Follow up, remain skeptical. Every minute we must be aware that propaganda and lies are an important part of this war.
teleschau: Hand on heart: How difficult is it for you to keep your journalistic distance in view of the omnipresent suffering?
Ohm: Honestly, while I’m working, i.e. in an interview or gathering information, I can handle everything professionally. But of course, the stories of the people, the pictures of the funerals of very young men, killed civilians, children, what is currently being known from Bucha and other places is so horrible that of course it doesn’t leave me unmoved.
Ukraine reporter draws bitter conclusion: “I don’t see a glimmer of hope on the horizon”
teleschau: You said that you became a journalist in 1992 because of the war in your Bosnian homeland. Today, 30 years later, many things in journalism have become more complicated. Why is this still your dream job?
Ohm: Journalism is not a job for me. It’s a calling. I still feel the same way after 30 years. To be there when history is made, to question people and question what happened: I am still grateful that my path led me into this profession.
teleschau: What’s next for you personally: How long will you stay on site?
Ohm: To be honest, I don’t really know for sure. Definitely until Easter.
teleschau: Is there anything that gives you hope that this war could be over soon?
Ohm: Very difficult. And quite honestly: no. At the moment I don’t see the glimmer of hope on the horizon.
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The original of this article “Ukraine reporter with gloomy prognosis: “I don’t see the glimmer of hope”” comes from Teleschau.