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Medical jet due to pick up badly wounded RT stringer denied landing in Ukraine

Published time: May 09, 2014 20:40
Edited time: May 10, 2014 15:12
A 23-year-old cameraman on RT’s Ruptly team wounded during the armed assault of Kiev’s army on Mariupol police HQ (Photo by Andrey, resident in Mariupol)

A 23-year-old cameraman on RT’s Ruptly team wounded during the armed assault of Kiev’s army on Mariupol police HQ (Photo by Andrey, resident in Mariupol)

A German medical jet which was to be hired by RT TV channel in order to pick up RT’s stringer, critically wounded during a military operation in Mariupol, was denied landing in the eastern Ukrainian city, gripped by unrest.

A 23-year-old cameraman on RT’s Ruptly team was wounded during the armed assault of Kiev’s army on Mariupol police HQ on Friday. Currently he is fighting for his life in hospital, doctors say that he is in a serious condition. In spite of his bulletproof vest the cameraman sustained a serious injury in the abdomen.

A resident in Mariupol saw the RT journalist being wounded.

“Your employee was on [Georgievskaya] street,” not far from the Internal Affairs HQ building where the fighting took place the resident said.

“We were approximately 300-400 meters away from the Internal Affairs HQ building. Your journalist was showing to the armed people in masks that he had no arms on him and that he was with the press, that he was a journalist. Then he tried to cross the street, and that’s when the shot was made, and he fell down.”

In his opinion, “there was no way he (the cameraman) could have provoked the shooting because he had been making clear that he was a journalist and wanted to come closer in order to shoot video.”

After he fell, “he crawled to a car and hid behind it. We stopped a passing car for it to deliver him to a hospital for emergency help. We asked for traffic police officers who were close by for their help. One of them helped to drag your journalist and put him in a car.”

On Friday, Kiev’s forces using heavy weaponry, tanks and APCs stormed the local Interior Ministry building, where police had barricaded inside. The self-defense forces said that “policemen of the city department refused to obey Kiev’s orders and guard the building of the city council, which had been seized a day earlier by the Ukrainian security services. As a result, Kiev authorities decided to storm the building of the city Interior Ministry department, policemen are shooting back, the building is surrounded.”

Residents began to gather at the scene, while Kiev fighters opened fire on civilians.

“They shot at civilians,” a representative of the local anti-fascist committee Pyotr Komissarov told RT. “I saw several people killed,” Komissarov said adding that among the killed were police officers.

Videos show unarmed residents trying to stop APCs on the city streets.

There are conflicting reports about the number of killed and wounded. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said that about 20 anti-Kiev activists were killed and four more were taken captive, while Donetsk authorities said three people have been killed and 25 injured.

Outrage in Russia's parliament

Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, has criticized Ukraine’s refusal to permit a medical jet to land to pick up RT’s wounded stringer. A Russian senator on Saturday said it was it was a “crime” that should be punished.

“I don’t recall similar cases in history when doctors were not allowed to help victims, to come and pick up the wounded,” added Vladimir Djabarov, head of the Federation Council’s committee monitoring the crisis in Ukraine, RIA Novosti reported.

On Saturday, Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, called the event “outrageous”.

“The international journalist community should unite, as what is happening to journalists in Ukraine is outrageous – journalists are not allowed to enter [the country], they are deported, detained, and now a journalist has been wounded,” said Andrey Tumanov, First Deputy Chairman of the Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technology and Communications, RIA Novosti reported.

"If the Ukrainian government does not want to let the journalist leave, then they are worse than some terrorist groups. The international community has no right to remain silent."