A 30-year-old civilian woman died after being shot in the head by sniper fire while standing on her balcony in Slavyansk. RT’s Paula Slier visited shocked relatives of the victim, who say a Ukrainian army sniper is responsible, though they don't know why.
Slier arrived to the small Slavyansk apartment just hours after Irina was murdered, a large pool of blood still marking the floor of the balcony. A hospital nurse earlier confirmed that the woman died of a gunshot wound to her head.
The apartment, located on the sixth floor of a small block of flats, appeared to be away from the recent fighting in Slavyansk, and no barricades or checkpoints could be seen anywhere near the area.
Irina, who was head of a department at a technical college in Slavyansk, never took part in any protests or fighting. However, when standing on her balcony and waiting for her husband to come home from a nearby garage, the woman was targeted by an unidentified sniper. Neighbors said they heard a popping sound coming from the trees opposite her window.
Slier spoke to the family of the victim, still in shock and disbelief at what happened.
“She was just standing there, waiting for her husband to come back home...Why was the girl killed?!” Irina’s mother-in-law, who says she treated her like a daughter, told Slier.
“She did not even come outside. She was not standing at any barricades. She was for a unified Ukraine and for friendship with Russia,” the woman said, sobbing hysterically.
“I rushed into the room and saw my wife lying on the floor with a bullet in her head,” Irina's shocked husband said. “We called an ambulance. She died in hospital.”
“What was he [the sniper] doing in the trees? Fighting those with automatic rifles in hands? No, just sneakily scored a kill and is happy about it,” Irina’s father-in-law said.
After months of violence in Ukraine, neither can comprehend why there is so much hate against eastern Ukrainians from the coup-imposed government, or what Ukrainian troops are doing in the region.
“We want only peace, we want a functioning economy, we want normal pensions and decent salary for working people. And they are killing us,” Irina’s mother-in-law told Slier.
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Moreover, the version of events presented by the invariably pro-Kiev local TV channels is simply appalling, her father-in-law said.
“You just watch this TV of yours...Only the Ukrainians are goodies, the rest are fools. All of us here are ‘thugs,’ ‘separatists,’ dubious ‘Russian agents’ are everywhere – but those that they call so, they are not killing us, they protect us. And those who have come...it is them who are killing us. We didn’t have anything like this until they came here,” he told Slier.
The locals feel the Kiev regime is not seeking dialogue with eastern Ukrainians at all, and instead have firmly chosen the path of violence and repression.
“Nobody will tell the truth. They need only blood, all of them,” Irina’s father-in-law said.
Kiev has intensified attacks on Slavyansk and other protester-held cities in eastern Ukraine since Friday morning. So far, government troops have managed to blockade transport to and from Slavyansk, but haven’t made significant territorial gains, preferring hit and run tactics, killing and injuring dozens of people. At least 10 self-defense fighters and their unarmed civilian supporters were killed in the latest clashes on Monday.