Russian Attack Hits Ukraine’s Factor-Druk Printing House

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Reports indicate that seven are dead and at least 20 injured at the Factor-Druk printing house in today’s Russian attack on Kharkiv.

Image: Ukraine State Emergency Service, Kharkiv Region, provided by ‘Chytomo’

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Zelenskyy: ‘An Extremely Brutal Attack’
Amid coverage of today’s (May 23) Russian missile attack on Kharkiv, the publishing news medium Chytomo is amplifying reports that a major Ukrainian printing house, Factor-Druk, has been hit.

Chytomo

Chytomo‘s article quotes the head of the region’s civil-military administration, Oleg Sinegubov, saying that more than 50 Factor-Druk employees were at the site at the time of the strikes. One missile is described as having gone “directly into the shop,” with two more landing near the plant.

The Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office subsequently has reported that at least seven company employees were killed. Broader strikes in the region reportedly included targets in residential areas, as well.

Julia Orlova

Julia Orlova

Julia Orlova, CEO of Vivat Publishing, tells Chytomo in a message that Factor-Druk is “our printing house. There’s a fire there now,” she says.

“They are clearing the rubble and rescuing people.”

Further reportage from Sinegubov’s offices indicates that more than 50 Factor-Druk employees were at the site at the time of the strikes.

One of the missiles is described as having gone “directly into the shop,” with two more landing near the plant.

Among Europe’s Largest Printing Facilities

Image: Ukraine State Emergency Service, Kharkiv Region

Factor-Druk is part of the Factor Group and has the capacity to produce as many as 50 million hardcover and paperback books per year, as well as some 100 million magazine copies and 300 million newspaper copies. Overall employment is said to number more than 400 people and the facility is said to have a 15,822-square-meter footprint. The company is approved for projects assigned to it by Disney and Marvel, following proof-of-performance examinations.

On its site, Factor-Druk says it has 23 years in the business and that its facilities operate around the clock, as is common with many professional printing operations.

Associates of Orlova at Vivat say the Factor-Druk facility is among the largest full-service printing houses in Europe and is used by a majority of Ukrainian publishers to print their books. One Ukrainian observer points out to us that publishers planning to exhibit books at the Book Arsenal Festival—opening on May 30—may not have their anticipated festival inventories printed in time for the festival. Needless to say, the loss of life and the injuries are far more important, but it’s likely that some of the business that might have been done at the festival could be impacted, as well.

Illia Novikov writes today for the Associated Press that the Kremlin’s attack in Kharkiv was made by S-300 missiles, a surface-to-air weapon developed in the former Soviet Union. Novikov’s reporting agrees with the death-toll figure of seven people and 20 injured, in sync with reports from Ukrainska Pravda. Novikov quotes Kyiv’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba saying the attacks “underscored the country’s ‘urgent’ need for more United States-made Patriot systems to defend Ukraine’s skies.”

The Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov—whose Samson and Nadezhda (Samson i Nadežda) is reported by Zurich’s Diogenes to be racking up impressively brisk international rights sales—is on social media with further images from the Factor-Druk facility.

Illia Novikov writes today for the Associated Press that the Kremlin’s attack in Kharkiv was made by S-300 missiles, a surface-to-air weapon developed in the former Soviet Union. Novikov’s reporting agrees with the death-toll figure of seven people and 20 injured, in sync with reports from Ukrainska Pravda. Novikov quotes Kyiv’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba saying the attacks “underscored the country’s ‘urgent’ need for more United States-made Patriot systems to defend Ukraine’s skies.”

‘All the Victims Are Employees’

In this image of Ukraine State Emergency Service personnel working at the Factor-Druk premises after the Russian attack, stacks of printed stock can be seen in the rear right-center of the view. Image: Ukraine State Emergency Service, Kharkiv Region

Publishing Perspectives readers have been aware of Kharkiv’s importance in Ukraine’s book-publishing industry as well as the area’s vulnerability: Kharkiv is set only about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the border with Russia. Early after Vladimir Putin opened his unprovoked attack on Ukraine, there was considerable action in the region and concern for various assets of the book business there.

But, as CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh reports today with Mick Krever, Kosta Gak, and Brice Lane, “For nearly two years, Kharkiv thought the threat from its neighbor had passed. A lightning Russian retreat in late 2022 left Kharkiv region peaceful and the launchpad for Ukrainian attacks across the border into Russia proper. Attacks persisted in the distance however, keeping the city’s residents awake through violently loud nights, now amplified by the threat of Russian artillery edging closer.”

In CNBC’s report from Ruxandra Iordache, a Telegram post from the Kharkiv regional police force says, “In the Osnovyansk district of Kharkiv, enemy rockets hit the territory of the printing house. There was a large-scale fire. Seven people died … All the victims are employees of the enterprise. Debris analysis is ongoing.”

Iordache includes a comment on X, formerly Twitter, from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in which he says that the Russian attack involved 15 simultaneous missile launches on Kharkiv and Lyubotyn. Zelenskyy writes, in part, “Russian terrorists are taking advantage of Ukraine’s lack of sufficient air-defense protection and reliable capability to destroy terrorist launchers at their exact locations, which are close to our borders. And this weakness is not ours, but the world’s, which has not dared to deal with terrorists in the way they deserve for three years.”


Our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing industry is here. More from Publishing Perspectives on the Ukrainian market is here, more on the freedom to publish and the freedom of expression is here, our coverage of Kyiv’s International Book Arsenal Festival is here, more on publishing in Europe is here, and more on book fairs and trade shows in the world publishing industry is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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