Based in Ukraine
Nominated by The New York Times
“Colleagues of Evelina praise the way she has acted as producer, fixer and translator for their work, under extremely difficult and dangerous conditions in Ukraine. In addition to her reporting, interviewing, and translating, her instincts led them to so many stories they would never have otherwise found. She has made an extraordinary contribution to their coverage, which helped keep Ukraine at the top of the news agenda.”
-Martin Adler Prize Jury
“Evelina plays one of the most vital roles in the overall newsgathering of the NYT and has assisted on many of the paper’s major stories. Her empathy, intelligence, charm, organisational skills, and knack for establishing good relationships are unparalleled. She has helped to contextualise situations to better my own work as a photographer with her depth of knowledge. What is more remarkable is that Evelina perseveres with grace – understanding the importance of keeping Ukraine at the forefront – in the face of her own life and family coming under threat.”
-Nicole Tung, Photographer, New York Times
“Evelina has proven herself to be one of the most skilled, diplomatic, and hard-working local producers I’ve ever worked with. Her ability to convince military contacts to provide us access to key locations and situations, her willingness to operate in difficult and dangerous environments, and her understanding of the needs of a photographer seeking to illustrate both breaking news and the deeper nuances of this sprawling war are unmatched in my more than two decades of covering conflicts. We have collaborated on a number of major stories that have been published on NYT front pages. In short, my own ability to cover this conflict relies heavily on Evelina’s journalistic instincts and hard work.”
-Finbarr O’Reilly, Photographer, New York Times
See some of the work that Evelina has contributed to:
Evelina Riabenko currently works with the New York Times in Ukraine as a producer, establishing contacts, arranging access and embeds, and intiating story ideas. Before the invasion in 2022, she had no prior experience in journalism. Graduating in 2014 from Donbass State Engineering Academy with a degree in machine building technology, she went on to study English, before taking other courses in management, and landing a role at a major Ukrainian logistics company working in HR and as the office administrator until the start of the war. She previously spent four years working as a travel agent until 2020, and taught English.
Evelina, who is from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, is no stranger to war. When the separatist war broke out in the east in 2014, she was just finishing school, and defended her thesis to the sounds of shelling and explosions. In 2021, she relocated to Kyiv, remaining in the city even as Russia mounted its full-scale invasion of Ukraine the following year. When journalists needed someone who could help translate after Bucha was retaken by Ukrainian forces, she volunteered, and worked for weeks in the town that had seen wanton killings of civilians all over its streets.
She has since reported on every major news story in Ukraine, including the liberation of Kharkiv region, the ongoing operations in the south and east of the country, as well as in-depth stories on the trauma of Ukrainian soldiers, the long-term impact of the destruction of the Kakhavka dam, the steel industry of Ukraine, Ukraine’s helicopter brigades and many others.