Our Journalists Share Their Most Memorable Interviews of 2017

Her previous interviewer had said he was a reporter with the French newspaper Le Monde. In fact, he was a Chechen assassin. Midway through their interview, he opened fire. Ms. Okuyeva pulled out her own gun and shot back, saving herself and her husband.

There had been clues something was amiss. “He had a notebook, but he wasn’t writing anything in it,” she said.

In the Ukrainian news media, Ms. Okuyeva was portrayed as a fierce heroine for fighting back to survive. I saw a frightened woman. In my notebook I wrote, “furrowed brow.”

A few months later, I filed a brief story noting that Ms. Okuyeva had died in a subsequent assassination by a gunman hiding in bushes on a roadside. By coincidence, I wrote the story in the lobby of the Intercontinental hotel, where I had come earlier in the evening to have dinner.

A warm smile in the middle of tragedy

FRANCES ROBLES, domestic correspondent

AILEEN AYALA, mother whose son died of a heart condition the morning Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico

I met Aileen Ayala at the Salinas Memorial Funeral Home a week after her 29-year-old son, Josue Santos, died as Hurricane Maria trampled Puerto Rico. Communications were so bad she…

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