Sloviansk, Ukraine: Belsat TV crew comes under fire; Italian journalist dies

On May, 24 our journalists were heading for Donetsk, but had to stop not far from a checkpoint in Sloviansk: a battle started there. Bullets were whistling pass Belsat TV correspondents’ car.

Having left the town of Izym – the most peaceful region of those bordering on the separatist Donetsk Republic – Yuras Wysocki, Siarhei Marchyk, Ales Barazenka made their way to Sloviansk. At one of the checkpoints Ukrainian soldiers let them pass. But they failed to get the next checkpoint: a fire between separatists and government forces flared up. Our crew decided to wait out, but a few hours later their car became a target as well.

‘They shot 5-6 bullets which struck an iron fence near the road, 1-2 metres from our car. We had helmets and armour vests on, but it was terrible,’ Yuras Wysocki said.

Our reporters were not injured. But it became known that an Italian journalist was killed in Sloviansk: on Sunday the Italian Foreign Ministry has confirmed the death of photographer Andy Rocchelli. Earlier media reports said that Mr Roccelli, his interpreter and a French journalist came under mortar fire in the south of the city of Sloviansk. Meanwhile, the French journalist who was wounded in the thigh was taken to hospital. He left it himself after his wound had been bandaged. The interpreter is reportedly dead.

‘In the run-up of the elections separatists became very active, and the climate is turbulent here. To put it in a nutshell, there is a war, and I needn’t say more,’ Yuras Wysocki said.

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