According to the Italian Foreign Ministry, an Italian journalist has been killed near the Ukrainian city of Slavyansk during a mortar attack. Andrea Ronchelli, a freelance photographer who worked with the Cesura photographers’ collective, and his colleague Andrey Mironov, a Russian national, were reportedly hit along with his interpreter by mortar fire by the Ukrainian Army on Saturday near the village of Andreevka, a couple of kilometers from Slavyansk.
French freelance journalist William Roguelon, who had been traveling with Ronchelli and his translator, said the group came under fire on the outskirts of the eastern town on Saturday.
“We went to the area because there had been a bombing next to a neighborhood. So, there was nothing when we arrived. We were an Italian journalist, a fixer, a driver,” he told reporters at Slaviansk hospital. “After we arrived we got shot at, we threw ourselves in a ditch, after they shot at least 40 shells onto us and the vehicle.” Roguelon said Ronchelli and the Russian were hit by mortar fire of the Ukrainian troops while he himself had walked off along the road looking for help. He said he did not know for certain whether the two men were dead when he last saw them but he said they were not moving. “They were on the ground,” he said.
Local residents who found the bodies also found the remains of mortars at the scene of the attack. The bodies were carried to a hospital in Slaviansk. However it still remains unclear how one of the bodies was beheaded during the attack of the Ukrainian Army. We are asking for an investigation in this case.
The crackdown of journalists in Ukraine has been condemned by a number of rights groups. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Kiev to “stop equating conflict reporting with terrorism.” In addition the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE) said journalists in Ukraine are “continually been denied access to events and information, often by force” and warned that consequences will be “too grave to even imagine.”