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Published: March 31, 2014

International security specialist Pilgrims Group Limited has proved itself the security company of choice for media organisations working in Ukraine during recent events.

The company has been working with journalists’ teams throughout the country during the political disturbance which resulted in the departure of ousted president Victor Yanukovych this February, the installation of an interim government and the subsequent Russian military intervention in Crimea.

At one point, Pilgrims had 13 consultants deployed across the Ukraine supporting a number of media organisations and ensuring their correspondents and camera crews were kept safe in a volatile and changing political climate. The company has teams in many of the country’s major population centres, including Kiev, Donetsk, Lviv, Kharkov, Odessa and throughout Crimea.

“Initially the challenges facing our teams were the dangers associated with rioting,” says Phil Drinkwater, Operations Manager at Pilgrims. “We have been keeping news teams safe, remaining alert to potential threats, such as personal attack or even flying bullets, while they’ve carried out their work interviewing and reporting on the situation. Now the threat has changed slightly, with protests from all sides of the political spectrum combined with the potential for military operations to start in the country. There has also been a growth in ill feeling towards the Western media,” he explains.

Drinkwater says Pilgrims has been able to respond rapidly to broadcasters’ demands by drawing on its extensive networks to mobilise former special services personnel, who were on duty within 12 hours of the clients’ initial requests (and frequently considerably quicker). Additionally, the company continues to maintain the highest level of awareness of the unfolding political situation in the Ukraine itself by maintaining its local contact network, with regular updates of information on the ground.

Due to the sensitive nature of their role, the client organisations preferred not to be named.