A journalist for Russia’s LifeNews has been released after being detained and questioned for 15 hours by Ukraine law enforcement. Police allegedly “kicked” the reporter and “other peaceful civilians” during an armed confrontation in Mariupol on Wednesday.
Kristina Babayeva was detained following an armed confrontation between anti-government protesters and soldiers stationed at a military base in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Wednesday. Her colleague, camerawoman Maria Povalyaeva, still remains at the local police station.
“She is being actively interrogated,” Babayeva told RT.
Babayeva said she was working at the scene when the shooting began. She said the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and police then “launched an operation,” throwing her and other peaceful civilians on the ground.
“Many were kicked, including me. They were talking to us really harshly and said that if we moved a finger they would shoot to kill,” the journalist said, adding that she received several bruises.
According to the reporter, there was “total chaos” and police were shooting in different directions. Once anyone flashed a torch, they “fired at that direction without a warning,” Babayeva said, adding that real bullets were used – not rubber ones.
People were kept on the ground, their faces down, for about half an hour, before they were placed in a van to be taken to a local police station, Babayeva said.
She was questioned for 15 hours by the SBU and police officers, who attempted to accuse her of complicity in the armed seizure of the military base located in the turbulent Donetsk region.
Babayeva said police were aware that she is a Russian journalist and saw all her documents, seized her microphone, and two phones.
“They saw that I had made calls to activist – on the eve of the incident we were filming a report near the city council building. That’s why they accused me in complicity to the armed seizure, as they put it,” she said.
No violence was used against her at the police station, she said.
According to LifeNews, the journalist demanded that she be provided with a lawyer and given an opportunity to speak to a Russian consul, but law enforcers refused to do so.