Christiaan Triebert+ Your Authors @trbrtc Visual Investigations @nytimes. Previously @bellingcat. Monitoring things, mostly niche. Retired hitchhiker. @quiztime. Usual caveats. DMs open. May. 04, 2020 2 min read + Your Authors

Today, the @nytimes — including the Visual Investigations team (us!) — has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, for a body of work exposing Russia’s ‘shadow war’ in Africa, Europe, and Syria.

Russia had long been suspected of bombing hospitals in Syria. Our investigation showed they did. Combined with videos, interviews and flight logs, thousands of previously unheard Air Force recordings provided a missing link in assigning responsibility. 

Back in 2017, @malachybrowne started tracking the airstrikes on Syrian hospitals. Two years later, when NYT obtained the cockpit tapes, Malachy had gathered a team around him. We spent months deciphering Russian Air Force lingo and military codewords.

An example of such a codeword is “sent candy” — the words a Russian pilot used to confirm his airstrike on a busy commercial street during breakfast time, killing at least 20. 

In this piece, we give some insight how we combined all that info — cockpit tapes, flight logs, videos, photos, satellite imagery, witness interviews, etc. — which, for the first time, proved that Russia repeatedly bombed Syrian hospitals. 

Besides hospitals and that busy commercial street, we also showed how the Russian Air Force bombed a settlement for internally displaced people. At least 19 people were killed, including a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. 

Our investigations into the Russian Air Force wouldn’t have been possible without the many brave Syrians that have risked their own lives to film what’s going on in their country. The war is almost a decade old, but far from over. We continue to monitor the conflict.

The cockpit tapes provided an unprecedented insight into Russia’s air war in Syria. Besides the two Pulitzer-winning investigations, we have five other stories based on those previously unheard Russian Air Force communications, listed in this thread:

The Pulitzer-winning body of work includes four stories of @mschwirtz, including this remarkable report where he talked his way into a Ukrainian prison to interview a Russian hitman who then gave a rare account of a Kremlin-sponsored killing. 

In the Central African Republic, @dionnesearcey investigated illegal Russian diamond mining led by Putin’s ‘chef’ Prigozhin, whose mercenaries were also increasingly involved in training local military forces and guarding facilities. 

In Libya, @ddknyt reported on how Russia appears to be mimicking the playbook it used to become a kingmaker in the Syrian civil war. 

Our team is honored that the Pulitzer committee has recognized the value of open-source investigation, especially combined with traditional reporting. In case you want to see more investigations, see our website  or YouTube .

All of our visual investigations are teamwork. To show how big of a team, here’s a shoutout to those that contributed along the way: @malachybrowne, @evanchill, @dim109, @whitney_hurst, @DrewJordan_NYT, @Abeerpamuk, @MashaFroliak, Alexandra Koroleva …

@bottidavid, @markscheffler, @ndgauss, @johnismay, @qdbui, @zaynman, @francescab, @heytherehaIey, @rarecanary, @davehorn, Aaron Byrd, @john_marquee, @therealDahliak, @sskerrr, @sjalfano, @talasafie, Nicole Fineman — to name a few.

Whether it’s New York or North Korea, our visual investigations team tries to reconstruct news events, set records straight and expose government deceit. Follow the core team for the latest: @malachybrowne @ckoettl @babimarcolini @evanchill @heytherehaley @muyixiao @whitney_hurst

You can follow @trbrtc.


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