Controversy Arises Over Russian Photographer’s Inclusion in Prestigious World Press Photo Jury

Kiev, Ukraine – The Ukrainian Association of Professional Photographers (UAPP) issued a statement on January 13 urging the exclusion of Russian photographer Maria Gelman from the jury of the upcoming World Press Photo 2024 contest. The UAPP has expressed concerns about Gelman’s participation and its potential impact on the objectivity of the judging process.

Every year, the World Press Photo contest recognizes outstanding achievements in photojournalism and documentary photography. A panel of international judges selects the best works in global and regional categories. Gelman is among the five European jurors for the 2024 edition, along with photojournalists and industry professionals from other countries.

The UAPP’s opposition to Gelman’s involvement in the jury is rooted in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Since 2014, Ukraine has experienced a conflict with Russia characterized by aggression and violence. The UAPP argues that Gelman’s affiliation with the Russian Federation raises ethical questions due to the country’s involvement in the conflict.

Ukrainian photographer Valentyn Kuzan, a member of the UAPP, voiced his concerns on social media. Kuzan questioned the appropriateness of a Russian photographer evaluating photographs that document the war in Ukraine, particularly when the works are created by Ukrainian authors.

Adding to the controversy, Gelman’s previously published photos from Yalta in Russian-occupied Crimea have been brought to the forefront. The UAPP points out that foreigners could only enter Crimea through checkpoints on the Ukrainian-controlled side of the administrative border at the time of the article publication. Gelman has not disclosed how she gained access to Yalta in her work.

In contrast, Ukrainian photographer Evgeniy Maloletka, who emerged as a winner in the World Press Photo 2023 contest, captured the devastation caused by a missile attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol. His photo series, “The Siege of Mariupol,” provided a harrowing portrayal of the impact of the conflict.

As the controversy surrounding Gelman’s inclusion in the jury of the World Press Photo 2024 contest intensifies, the UAPP continues to advocate for her exclusion. The association argues that objectivity and fairness in the judgment of the photographs must be upheld, especially given the sensitive nature of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The final decision regarding Gelman’s participation rests with the World Press Photo organization.