13 May 2014, 11:39

RT journalist suffers from gunshot wound in Ukraine's Mariupol, returns to Moscow for treatment

RT journalist suffers from gunshot wound in Ukraine's Mariupol, returns to Moscow for treatment

A German medical jet carrying the wounded RT journalist has landed in Moscow's Domodedovo airport. Freelance videojournalist Fyodor Zavaleykov, 23, on RT's Ruptly team was shot in the abdomen on May 9 while covering a military operation in Mariupol. According to RT, he was critically injured during the armed assault of Kiev's army on Mariupol Police HQ while trying to film.

Criminal inquiry opened into attack on RT journalist in Ukraine

The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a criminal inquiry into an attack on RT television station employee Fyodor Zavaleikov in Ukraine, committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax.

"It has been established tentatively that Zavaleikov, dressed in a bulletproof vest, was filming Ukrainian security forces' storming of the Mariupol police headquarters, then under the control of federalization supporters, on Heorhiyevska Street of Mariupol on May 9.

The transportation to the Russian capital was an extremely complicated matter due to terms set by the Ukrainian authorities. Initially, they didn't allow the German medical jet to land at the nearest airport – in Mariupol. After three days of negotiations the aircraft was allowed to pick the severely wounded journalist up in the city of Donetsk, that is located more than 100 kilometers away from Mariupol.

Moreover, Ukrainian authorities demanded the plane to make a stop at Dnepropetrovsk. Even German medical team was puzzled as to why the plane had to stay there for an hour and a half, according to Russian Channel One. From Domodedovo, the wounded man was rushed to a Moscow hospital.

"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.

"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 witness told RT.

He added that "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."

Gross violations of journalists' rights are ongoing in Ukraine. Some of the recent cases include mortar attack on and deportation of Russian reporters. On May 6, a three-member crew of the Russian TV Center channel was deported from Ukraine under the formal pretext that they "lacked necessary documents." However, the journalists actually had all the papers to cover the pre-election situation and the presidential elections in Ukraine.

On May 7, the Russian Lifenews TV channel crew came under mortar attack near Slavyansk during a live broadcast. According to Interfax, several minutes prior to the attack that Ukrainian special services had masked the Grad mounts near a block post.

Russia urged the relevant bodies of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to condemn systematic violations of journalists' rights in Ukraine. "We are convinced that the relevant international bodies, including UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic and the UN Human Rights Council should condemn systematic violations of journalists’ rights in Ukraine," Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Muzaffar Suleymanov, CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program researcher said that the authorities in Kiev "must do everything in their power to ensure journalists can do their jobs freely and securely."

Producer of Russian RT television wounded in Ukraine's Mariupol in stable condition 

Producer of the Russian RT television, who received a gunshot wound in Ukraine's Mariupol, is in stable condition, RT tweeted on Saturday. 

"Producer shot in Mariupol is in stable condition," the Twitter post says.

On Friday, the channel's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan wrote on her microblog that an RT freelance reporter was shot in the abdomen while filming in Mariupol though, according to medics, he was wearing a bulletproof vest.

RT reporter wounded in Ukraine's Mariupol

RT's freelance journalist was wounded in the fighting in Mariupol, a city in southeastern Ukraine.

"Our freelance reporter was wounded as the fighting was being filmed in Mariupol. He was wounded in the stomach, according to doctors, although he was wearing a bullet-proof jacket," RT's editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, said on Twitter, Interfax reports.

On April 15, the Kiev authorities launched a special operation with the use of the military in southeastern Ukraine, where pro-federalization supporters started rallies in March.

Read also: 

Detentions of reporters in Ukraine abuse freedom of speech - Russian diplomat

Russian media want international organizations to protect journalists in Ukraine

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