What Other Newspapers Are Saying: Photographer Captures ‘Disgusting Wickedness’ of Putin’s Invasion | News, Sports, Jobs
Michael Seamans has seen a lot in his 16 year career as a photojournalist. He covered natural disasters, deadly epidemics and moments of tragedy. But he has never seen anything like what he is witnessing and documenting right now in the fallout from Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
“I have never seen so much despair, depression and terror in people’s eyes before,” said the sailors. “There’s a look I’ve never seen in my life.”
Seamans is currently working in Europe for USA Today on a project with the Pulitzer Center. The Bangor Daily News editorial board contacted him to see if he would discuss the experience, and he spoke to us from Moldova, where he helped cover and understand the plight of people displaced by the violence. Millions of people have fled Ukraine, and hundreds of thousands of refugees have crossed the border into Moldova since the invasion began in late February.
He stressed that he is there to cover people displaced by war, not the war itself.
“I am not a war photographer” he said. “My goal is to show what comes next.”
Seamans has been abroad for about two weeks. This included a 24-hour trip to Ukraine integrated with an aid organization as it dropped supplies in the cities of Odessa and Mykolaiv, picked up 80 people from the latter to bring them to Moldova, “and got out of it as fast as possible.”
He explained how he saw those fleeing say goodbye to their loved ones who remained.
“It was as if I had attended 80 funerals at the same time”, said the sailors. “These people who say goodbye to their boyfriends, to their fathers, to their husbands, without knowing if they will ever see them again. On top of that, being put in a van, taken to another country, put in a another bus and taken to another country.
It’s hard and emotionally draining work, but that’s what Seamans went there to do.
“Listening to these stories, photographing the new world they’ve been placed in, where it’s just as frightening for them to stay in their homes in Mykolaiv or to get into a van from a humanitarian organization and be taken to another city different to be treated, to be sent to another city elsewhere in the world”, he told us. “Which, in their words, is equally scary.”
There was a specific moment on this trip to Mykolaiv with which Seamans had “a difficult time to edit my photos,” finding it particularly difficult “Go back and relive that moment.” A 16-year-old girl with her mother was saying goodbye to her father, who was staying.
“Just devastating to see” The sailors told us.
We can all see that devastation in the photos of Seamans on the USA Today website. What is happening should devastate us and inspire continued action.
The sailors try to “sheds light on the human emotional toll it takes on people, and it’s downright crippling.”
“You just watch people suffer for no reason” he said. “Just because of one person’s aggression and a bigger overall plan.”
The work that Seamans and other journalists do is essential. Reports like USA Today’s recent article on displaced Ukrainian Jews, including photographs of Seamans, quickly and forcefully rebut Putin’s false claim of “denazification”.
Seamans is bothered by a drop in aid he has observed.
“You can see the decline in aid, which means people are losing interest, which means people are going to suffer more,” he told us, stressing the importance for the American public to continue to pay attention to what is happening and to support relief efforts.
“Flying a Ukrainian flag in front of your house will not save these people,” said the sailors.
“It must be financial support” he added. “Otherwise you can’t put gasoline in the tanks. You cannot put water bottles in the truck. It costs money to help these people.
“It’s not going to end anytime soon” he said.
Seamans suggested looking for organizations providing direct aid.
Seamans says he hopes to help people “see the disgusting nastiness of it all.”
In the face of such evil, Seamans wants people back home to know they can be part of the solution.
“It’s preventable, and it’s preventable through awareness,” he said, again emphasizing the importance of continuing to support organizations working on the ground. “I’ve seen the look on people’s faces when they get a hot meal.”
“There are things that people can actually do that can make a difference to even one person’s existence here,” he said.
– Bangor Daily News