SDN Reviews: Panel

SDN Reviews

Journalism Under Siege in Russia and Belarus
April 2, 5:15 - 6:30 pm ET

Photo by Denis Kaminev
Police detain a protester holding a flower during an anti-war rally in the center of Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2022. Photo by Denis Kaminev.

  • Lucy Westcott: Emergencies Director, Committee to Project Journalists 
  • Volha Shukaila: Photojournalist from Belarus now living in exile in Poland. Forced to leave Belarus because of her coverage of the 2020-2021 demonstrations against the Belarusian government
  • Denis Kaminev: Photojournalist and Editor, Russian Federation (now in exile in Tbilisi, Georgia)

Moderated by: 

  • Glenn Ruga: Founder & Director of the Social Documentary Network; Executive Editor, ZEKE magazine

At a time when the world is sliding backward from democratic principles, authoritarian states are cracking down on the conduits of truth and free thought available to the majority of people—namely an unfettered free press. Journalists who question the official government line find themselves as state enemies subject to imprisonment, torture, and harassment. This is not only limited to China, Russia, Turkey, Belarus, and Egypt but occurring even in bastions of democracy such as the U.S., Canada, and the world’s largest democracy, India. While it is fortunate and true that the western democracies are less draconian than authoritarian states, there is still a reason why we should be concerned.

In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this panel will focus on the experiences of two photojournalists from the region—Volha Shukaila from Belarus and Denis Kaminev from Russia—and their forced exile following their reporting on the repressive regimes in their countries and demonstrations against the war in Ukraine.

Lucy Westcott from the Committee to Protect Journalists will discuss the situation in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus in light the assault on journalists worldwide.

$10 for general public.
The panel is free for registered reviewees and reviewers of the SDN Reviews and no registration is necessary.



Denis Kaminev
Photojournalist and Editor, Russian Federation (now in exile in Tbilisi, Georgia)

Denis KaminevDenis Kaminev is a photojournalist and editor from Moscow, Russia. He previously worked as a staffer with the independent Russian broadcast TV Rain from 2020 to February of 2022, when the channel was blocked by Russian authorities in a move to silence independent media over the war in Ukraine. He also has been working as a stringer for Associated Press Images and Reuters Pictures with images published in a variety of media, including The Washington Post, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Meduza and others. After the shutdown of TV Rain and his coverage of anti-war demonstrations, he was forced to leave the Russia and is now in Tbilisi, Georgia.. 

Volha Shukaila
Independent Photographer, Belarus (now in exile in Poland)

Volha-ShukailaVolha Shukaila is a Belarusian photojournalist and photo editor from Minsk, Belarus. She started her career as a photo editor and part-time photojournalist in 2014 at TUT.BY Media – the largest independent online media in Belarus. From 2017 until June 2021, Volha worked at TUT.BY as a staff photojournalist. Volha also taught photo-editing at Belarusian State University (Faculty of Advanced Studies and Retraining) from 2019 through 2020. On May 18, 2021, following her coverage of mass political demonstrations against the Belarusian government and President Alexander Lukashenko, her media was blocked and destroyed by the Russian-allied government authorities. Fifteen of her colleagues were arrested, including CEO, editor-in-chief, journalists and others. Because of safety reasons Volha was forced to leave the country. She is now living in Warsaw, Poland.  Photo by Nadia Buzhan.

Lucy Westcott
Emergencies Director, Committee to Project Journalists. U.S.

Lucy WestcottLucy Westcott became director of CPJ’s Emergencies Department in October 2021. She oversees CPJ’s assistance and safety work worldwide. Westcott joined CPJ in 2018 as the James W. Foley Fellow. During her fellowship, she focused on safety issues for women journalists in non-hostile environments and assisted with the creation of safety resources for journalists globally. In 2021, she played a prominent role in CPJ’s response to the Afghan crisis, including helping Afghan journalists and their families evacuated to Qatar. Prior to joining CPJ, Westcott was a staff writer for Newsweek, where she covered gender and immigration. She has reported for outlets including The Intercept, Bustle, The Atlantic, and Women Under Siege, and was a United Nations correspondent for the Inter Press Service. As a fellow with the International Reporting Project in 2016, Westcott wrote about gender and development in South Africa and Lesotho. She has reported from Egypt, Jordan, Cameroon, and the U.S. She has a master’s in multi-platform journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom