The Russian cameraman from Channel One TV who was shot by Kiev forces in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, never stopped working. Even when he was fatally shot he managed to record till his last breath. The video caught his final moments.
Anatoly Klyan, 68, was fatally wounded in the stomach and died Sunday night. Along with a few other journalists, he had boarded a bus full of women – mostly mothers – who were traveling to a military base in Donetsk to demand that their sons be dismissed from the unit and allowed to go home.
Kiev armed forces opened fire as soon as the bus entered the territory of the military base, the driver immediately turned the bus back to escape the deadly shooting.
After the bus made it out of shooting range, the driver stopped the bus to wait for other journalists who were following in cars, said Evgeny Lyamin, Russia's Channel One TV correspondent, who was with Anatoly till his last moments.
“When we all got out of the bus, either of us were either calling home or their editors,” he said, “And in about a minute we saw a single flare in the sky and then the shooting started. Everyone ran toward the bus. They were shooting at the vehicle.”
People were trying to hide on the bottom of the bus to escape the shelling, shows a video, released on YouTube. The sounds of bullets are heard in the recording, which later displays the bus with several holes, allegedly from the bullets.
Lyamin said that he later jumped in the bus and was on the driver’s side.
“A bullet passed me and I saw that it hit the driver. I saw blood on his head. He started driving anyway, but fell dizzy and then the bus stopped.”
Then Lyamin saw that someone was wounded, and realized that it was his colleague Anatoly Klyan.
It wasn’t immediately clear how seriously the bullet had wounded the cameraman. Another video shot by LifeNews crew shows that the passengers on the bus were trying to help Klyan. Women were holding his hand and someone was asking him to stay conscious and look him in the eye.
“We all ran into the bus and Tolik [Anatoly Klyan] said ‘I was shot,’” said he couldn’t breathe,” said Vitaly Khanin, Ren TV correspondent. Khanin said he was holding him and told him to look him in the eyes.
“He [Klyan] looked away and closed his eyes when someone was tapping his hand,” he added.
According to Lyamin, the cameraman was working till his last breath. He never stopped thinking about the camera which had accompanied him throughout his 40-year career in journalism.
“We were trying to find a car to get him to the hospital. But when we started taking him out of the bus he turned around and his last words were ‘The camera. The camera,” said Lyamin.
He added that the cameraman was conscious for a while in the car, but then he fell unconscious when they were near the accident and emergency station.
“They tried to revive him for about half an hour but then they came and said there is nothing more they could have done,” said Lyamin.
Journalists from other Russian media, including Mir 24 Channel, Ren TV and LifeNews, were also caught in the fire as they were following the bus. According to Ren TV correspondent Aleksandr Leonenko, their car was shelled when they entered the city.
“We managed to escape [the car] and hide,” he said.
The incident happened hours before the end of the truce between Kiev troops and self-defense forces in eastern Ukraine. The ceasefire expires at 22:00 (19:00 GMT) on Monday.
Klyan’s death shocked his colleagues who had been working with him for decades.
“He [Klyan] was an experienced man. We met during a war conflict in Yugoslavia and in many other conflicts,” said Vladimir Avdeev, NTV cameraman, adding that Klyan covered the conflicts in Nicaragua, Angola, Mongolia and Chechnya.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, has expressed her condolences to the family of cameraman Anatoly Klyan.
“Members of the media continue to pay the highest price possible,” Mijatović wrote in a letter to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. “I fully understand the difficult situation in Ukraine and the fact that the national authorities do not control parts of the territory controlled by separatists in the eastern part of the country, but once again I call on all parties in this conflict to respect media freedom and refrain from any violence against members of the media,” Mijatović said.
She reminded Poroshenko that the death toll of journalists killed in eastern Ukraine stands at five, and urged the newly-elected president “to swiftly and thoroughly investigate the circumstances of Klyan’s death and all other deadly attacks on journalists, and to hold those responsible accountable.”
Meanwhile, Moscow has strongly condemned the attacks on its journalists in Ukraine. According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, the death of Anatoly Klyan has shown that Ukrainian law enforcement agencies apparently don’t want to de-escalate the armed conflict in the east of the country and are blocking the truce.
Kiev troops won’t scare off Russian journalists, says an official statement of Channel One TV, made after the death of its cameraman, Anatoly Klyan, near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.
“Ukrainian power continues killing journalists in the south-east - it [Kiev] is not satisfied that it is impossible to hide the actions against its own people,” it said, “There [in Kiev] they prefer to deal with the rebels without witnesses.”
“Our duty is to inform the country and the world what our journalists have witnessed,” it added.
Klyan’s death became the next in the series of deaths of journalists in eastern Ukraine. Earlier this month, Rossiya TV journalist Igor Kornelyuk and his colleague, sound engineer Anton Voloshin, were killed in shelling near Lugansk.
in May, Italian journalist Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian interpreter Andrey Mironov were killed when they were caught in a mortar attack close to the village of Andreevka, a couple of kilometers from Slavyansk.