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Ukrainian photojournalist Evgeniy Maloletka won the Visa d’Or, one of the profession’s most prestigious prizes on Saturday, for his work during the devastating Russian siege of Mariupol.


Maloletka, visibly moved, dedicated his prize to the Ukrainian people, at a ceremony in the southern French city of Perpignan.

The 35-year-old journalist, who works for the Associated Press news agency, was – along with his AP colleague video journalist Mstyslav Chernov – one of the first journalists to enter Mariupol on February 23, an hour before the first Russian bombs fell.

He was also one of the last to leave, finally quitting the city on March 15, by which time it had been almost entirely destroyed by Russian shelling.

Those 20 days he spent there, he told AFP, were like one long, unending day, “becoming worse and worse”.

His pictures showed the full horrors of the conflict there: children killed during the siege, heavily pregnant women lying among the ruins of bombed-out buildings, hastily improvised common graves.

The Russian bombardment of this port city of 400,000 inhabitants, in particular a direct hit on a maternity hospital, provoked outrage around the world.

The other two photographers nominated were Daniel Berehulak, an Australian of Ukrainian origin, for “People lived here”, his reportage for the New York Times on the massacre of civilians in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv; and Marcus Yam’s assignment for the Los Angeles Times: “The fall of Afghanistan.”

The war in Ukraine has been one of the dominant themes at the International Festival of Photojournalism, which opened on August 27.