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HomeCrimeThe Horror of The Siege of Mariupol Keeps Repeating Itself in Ukraine

The Horror of The Siege of Mariupol Keeps Repeating Itself in Ukraine


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Looking at the images of the siege of Mariupol – the bombs on the hospital, the young pregnant woman taken away under the bombs and who will die a few hours later together with her baby – as a necessary exercise to understand what is happening in other areas of the Ukrainian conflict today: Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Vuhledar. An exercise of memory, understanding of the present, but also a tool to bring to justice those responsible for the numerous crimes against civilians.

Mstyslav Chernov, the video reporter who with colleagues Evgeniy Maloletka and Vasilisa Stepanenko – all Ukrainians and all from the Associated Press – is convinced of this, as told in an exclusive interview with AGI . of the Russian attack on the port city which, in March of last year, had become the most dangerous area of ​​the entire conflict. 

“Wherever Russian troops concentrate to aim for a conquest, the tactic is always that of scorched earth: bomb civilians , burn the city to the ground. Mariupol is not only a symbol of this war, but also the mirror in which the true face of the Russian invasion continues to be reflected”, explains Chernov, on the sidelines of the International Journalism Festival (Ijf23) which ends today in Perugia and where, for the first time in Italy, he presented his documentary film “20 Days in Mariupol” (co-production Associated Press and Pbs Frontline) with Stepanenko.

As the bombs fall , the inhabitants flee and access to electricity, food, water and medicine is cut off, the three reporters – the only international journalists left in the city – struggle to cover the atrocities of war and manage to save the 30 hours footage, which they believe may also be “evidence of Russia’s war crimes ”.

Mariupol siege is repeated in Ukraine

Soon surrounded by Moscow soldiers, the crew takes refuge in hospital No. 3, where they witness the bombing of the maternity ward , again denied by the Kremlin. Their miraculous exfiltration, carried out by the Ukrainian army after 20 days, is now known all over the world. For that image taken on March 9, 2022, in which he immortalized 32-year-old Irina Kalinina carried on a stretcher among the rubble, holding her belly with one hand to protect her unborn child, Maloletka just won the World Press Photo .

“Mariupol has become a symbol, because it was under attack from the first day of the invasion and because it suffered a high concentration of war crimes”, Stepanenko explains to AGI, “when we went to the hospital there were corpses piled up all in one room, because it was too dangerous to take them to the morgue or perform funerals. It was scary.” 

The footage shot by the three reporters not only documents the death and destruction – bodies in the streets and in mass graves, the bombing of apartment buildings, doctors who are in despair because they are unable to save injured children – but they directly refute Moscow’s propaganda, which he quickly branded their work as fake news and continues to advocate the purely military nature of his goals.

Mariupol siege is repeated in Ukraine

“Providing the public with the context of a story, passed on the news perhaps with a one-minute report”, argues Chernov, “is essential to understand the proportions of the tragedy, the intensity of the fighting, to have the tools with which to analyze what is happening : It’s very easy to dispute a 30-second clip or photo published in the newspaper, but it’s much harder to dispute an hour or 90 minutes of footage. One of the purposes of this documentary is to give people enough context to judge for themselves.”

“Mariupol”, continue the two journalists, “has turned into a ghost town , but it is not the only one: 90% of its buildings are destroyed and will simply be demolished and this is happening in every Russian occupied town, in Popasna , Soledar, it is happening to Bakhmut”.

After the siege, the three journalists all returned to the field. “We have not turned our backs on Mariupol,” Chernov continues. The three colleagues continued to collect the stories of those who fled, to investigate what happened after their departure, such as the bombing of the theater of dramatic art, where they estimated that around 600 died, who had taken refuge there. “We continued to talk about Bucha, Kharkiv, Kherson and Izyum, wherever we went there was the same violence and destruction as in Mariupol”, underlines Chernov, “common tortures, horrors that continue to occur in all the territories occupied by the Russians”.

“Every person with a camera in Ukraine is at risk – denounces Chernov – our Lithuanian documentary friend Mantas Kvedaravicius was killed, while he was also in Mariupol. Journalists are victims of both indiscriminate fire and targeted attacks, because the Russians don’t want evidence of their war crimes. We live in a world in which, however, it is no longer possible to hide what is happening, we will continue to record every single crime, we will continue to show it to the world and whoever is responsible for it will answer, sooner or later, before justice”. 

Source: AGI


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