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Marharyta Rivchachenko serves as a press officer for Ukraine on the frontlines of the war
Marharyta Rivchachenko serves as a press officer for Ukraine on the frontlines of the war | Photo courtesy of Marharyta Rivchachenko

Former PR manager becomes press officer on frontline of Russia-Ukraine War

This war gives and it takes. It has taken away my liberty, but it has given me confidence to do everything; to know I can live through anything. The war convinced me I can love deeply. It makes you reconsider how you feel about family and what is important in life. It haunts you with anxiety and worry for those nearest and dearest to you who fight.

Interview Subject
Before the war, Marharyta Rivchachenko worked as a public relations manager on projects for businesses and non-governmental organizations. She also served as press secretary for the people’s deputy and wrote articles as a content creator. When Russia invaded Ukraine, she joined the Territorial Defense and now serves as a press officer on the frontlines.
Background Information
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2002 early in the morning. In the unprovoked war, Russia mainly targets the Ukrainian civilian population, hospitals, maternity houses, critical infrastructure, schools, kindergartens, and local administration. As of September 30, Moscow killed 397 children in Ukraine.

FRONTLINE, Ukraine ꟷ On February 24, 2002, my dad called to tell me the war started in Ukraine. I made a spontaneous decision at that moment to go and fight.

Before finalizing my next steps, I went to the hospital to donate blood. There, the thought occurred to me that I wanted to be among people who knew what to do in this situaion. I joined the Territorial Defense.

Reporting the war amidst the sounds of gunfire

I felt fear joining the war against Russia but could see no other way forward for myself. I started my work with the Territorial Defense as a sanitary instructor – a person who packs first aid kits and hands out medicine.

Read more first-person accounts out of the Russia-Ukraine War from Orato World Media.

Before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, I knew a bit about tactical medicine, but in the first months of the war, I attended training, expanded my knowledge, and delved into the practice completely. After that, I began teaching Ukrainian soldiers how to administer first aid.

Today, however, I work as a press officer on the frontline of the conflict. As a press officer, I can never forget my first official taping. It proved to be a very special one. The recording took place in Kharkiv. I felt extremely nervous knowing I would work with BBC and ABC, two prominent news channels.

I recorded in English as heavy artillery sounded around me. It all felt very scary. On the other hand, it felt incredibly interesting to speak to our outgoing Ukrainian soldiers. We quickly found a common language and joy filled me for completing the task.

Being a press officer of the frontline of the Russia-Ukraine War is not “war tourism”

This war gives and it takes. It has taken away my liberty, but it has given me confidence to do everything; to know I can live through anything. The war convinced me I can love deeply. It makes you reconsider how you feel about family and what is important in life. It haunts you with anxiety and worry for those nearest and dearest to you who fight.

The most impressive thing about the war in Ukraine comes from people’s stories. I met a battalion commander while filming artillery. Right away, he presented himself as a fun and cool guy. He made me believe everything would be alright. I later found out, only a few days before, he lost his twin on the field of battle. His brother also served as a commander. His attitude, despite his loss, made a big impression on me.

As a press officer, I have a job to do, to tell people about the war – about what is really happening in Ukraine. Going to the frontline to tell these stories is not “war tourism.” It can be extremely scary and very significant.

The conflict the people of Ukraine endure does not resemble wars in other countries. This ideological war – between the East and the West – has gone on for such a long time. We did not start it; but we will be the ones to put it to an end. I think about a time when all of fighting this stops. I have to imagine it; I am exhausted.

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Yuliia Rudenko is a journalist and social media manager at Euromaidan Press, a Ukrainian English-language journal. She covers human rights developments in Russia-occupied territories of Ukraine. Yuliia is an international law student in Kyiv. She dedicated her research to human rights, international humanitarian and criminal law.