A JERSEY-BORN BBC broadcaster leaving Moscow this week after a three-month posting has described the intimidation of journalists and the presence of riot police on the streets of the Russian capital following the invasion of Ukraine.
Jenny Hill,, who is usually the corporation’s Berlin correspondent, paid tribute to her ‘amazing, wonderful [colleagues] who are so brave and keep going under the most difficult circumstances’.
‘It’s quite usual for foreign journalists to be followed by the security services and there are quite regular attempts at intimidation of teams working out in the field – that’s quite normal. What’s really hard is that potential interviewees are intimidated as well so… it makes it a very difficult place to work.
‘You come out of the metro near the Kremlin and you see police officers going through people’s mobile phones – they’re not allowed to but they still do it to see if there’s any evidence that they were attending, or planning to attend, a protest. If you are out and about, you get eyed by the police who are everywhere, so it’s difficult to do anything.
‘You can try to choose your words carefully but if you are going to be in the country as a journalist you still have to do your job – you can’t try and work within a law which effectively prevents you from doing your job. ‘You just have to do it and accept that there’s a level of risk,’ she said.
Ms Hill began her journalistic career with the BBC in Jersey, having attended Jersey College for Girls until 1995. She left the Island in 2004 to take up broadcasting posts in the UK before her appointment as Berlin correspondent in 2014.
Earlier this year Ms Hill accepted what was intended to be a two-week posting to help at the BBC’s Moscow bureau. She arrived on the day that Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, and she has been in Moscow since then broadcasting on the Kremlin’s response to events in Ukraine.
She described the difficulties of ‘putting what the Kremlin is saying into context’.
‘Quite often, you find yourself pointing out the lies that are being told to people here and making the point that what people see on their TV screens here is completely different from what people at home are seeing but it can still be very jarring.
‘I’ll provide a broadcast off the back of a BBC report about systematic rape in villages around Kyiv, or those terrible atrocities in Bucha, and we know our colleagues and friends are reporting in those places.
‘Then we’ll talk about what Mr Putin has said about it – that he or his associates have dismissed it as lies and fake news. At that point you’re going to say this is the Kremlin’s standard response. It’s their modus operandi. Whatever you are doing, you are trying to contextualise and analyse what the Russian position is,’ she said.
Driving into Moscow on her first day, she witnessed protesters on the streets expressing their opposition to Russia’s ‘special military operation’ but she said that public expressions of discontent had now dwindled in response to the presence of police in riot gear patrolling many public places.