An injured RT journalist has been flown to Moscow, where he will receive further treatment. After three days of negotiations, Ukraine allowed the medical jet to land in Donetsk. The man was severely wounded while covering a military operation in Mariupol.
A German medical jet, arranged by RT TV channel to pick up freelance videojournalist Fyodor Zavaleykov, 23, landed in Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport.
“We are glad that we have finally managed to transport our cameraman from Mariupol to Moscow, where he will receive all necessary help so that he recovers as soon as possible after sustaining a severe wound,” RT's Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said.
“We are also very grateful to the medics at Mariupol hospital, who did everything possible to save our journalist’s life. Thank God he was wearing a bulletproof vest. According to doctors, if not for the bulletproof vest, he would have died at the scene,” she added.
The transportation to the Russian capital became possible after three days of negotiations, during which the Ukrainian side refused to allow the medical evacuation jet to land at the nearest airport in Mariupol.
Ukrainian officials eventually gave permission for the wounded RT video contributor to be picked up in the city of Donetsk, some 113km away from Mariupol. He was driven there in an ambulance.
On the way to Moscow, Ukraine also demanded that the plane make a stop at Dnepropetrovsk.
From Domodedovo, the wounded man was rushed to a Moscow hospital.
The journalist from RT’s Ruptly video contribution team sustained a serious injury in the abdomen during the armed assault of Kiev’s army on Mariupol Police HQ on May 9 while trying to film.
— alina eprimian (@leena_ep) May 12, 2014
In a serious condition, he was immediately delivered to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery.
A resident of Mariupol witnessed Zavaleykov being shot and shared video evidence with the channel.
“Your employee was on [Georgievskaya] street,” not far from the Internal Affairs HQ building where the fighting took place, the resident said.
In the footage given to RT, the journalist can be seen before and after the gunshots, along with armed men in masks and military uniforms.
“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 was unarmed 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,” the resident said in an interview to RT.
After that “he crawled to a car and hid behind it.”
People at the scene stopped a passing car 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,” he said.
The resident said “there was no way [Zavaleykov] could have provoked the shooting because he had been making clear that he was a journalist and wanted to come closer in order to capture video.”
On May 9, Kiev forces, using heavy weaponry, tanks and APCs, stormed the local Interior Ministry building, where police had barricaded themselves inside.
According to self-defense forces in the city, “policemen of the local 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.”
Kiev authorities decided to storm the building of the city’s Interior Ministry.
As residents flocked to the scene, Kiev fighters opened fire on civilians. That day many of the residents were out in the streets celebrating WWII Victory Day. As the reports of shooting started coming in, they moved to the police HQ. A total nine people were killed and another 49 injured.
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have condemned violations of journalists' rights. The organizations vowed to continue to “call for respect for journalists' work in all parts of the conflicts”.
“We keep monitoring the situation and will support independent journalists in covering the conflict and thereby fulfilling their duty as journalists where and when we can,” Renate Schroeder, Director of the EFJ told RT.
The EFJ wished a quick recovery to RT’s freelance videojournalist.
Earlier, the Society of Professional Journalists said it was “gravely concerned” by “violence and repression” targeting journalists covering unrest in Ukraine.