June 30, 2014 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Russian becomes sixth media worker to be killed this year in Ukraine

Pervy Kanal cameraman is fatally shot outside barracks in Donetsk region

Russian TV cameraman Anatoly Klyan (Анатолий Клян) has become the sixth media worker to be killed in connection with his work since the start of the year in Ukraine. Aged 68, he was fatally shot in the stomach last night near Opytnoye, a village in the eastern Donetsk region, his TV station, Moscow-based Pervy Kanal, confirmed.

Klyan was shot as he and other journalists accompanied supporters of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk (PRD) and the mothers of Ukrainian soldiers in a minibus displaying pacifist banners on a visit to a Ukrainian army barracks to ask the authorities to demobilize the soldiers.

Driven by a man in camouflage fatigues, the minibus set off from Donetsk at around 11:45 pm. Pervy Kanal reporter Yevgeny Lyamin said shots were fired from the barracks as the minibus approached, forcing it to retreat about 500 metres. When Klyan and other passengers got out, more shots were fired, hitting the driver and Klyan, who died after being taken to a Donetsk municipal hospital.

“We offer our condolences to Klyan’s family and colleagues,” said Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “A full and impartial investigation must be conducted into all the circumstances surrounding his death, from the minibus’ departure in the middle of the night to the barracks, to the shot that cost him his life.”

The Donetsk regional prosecutor’s officer and Russia’s Investigative Committee have launched parallel investigations. The PRD’s prosecutor-general’s office is also looking into the case.

According to Pervy Kanal, the PRD press office hired the minibus. But PRD Prime Minister Alexander Borodai told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the trip was organized by an autonomous group. “This thoughtless action led to loss of human life,” he said. “We will use the required severity to deal with those who took the people there.”

Klyan was killed two weeks after two other Russian journalists, reporter Igor Kornelyuk and sound technician Anton Voloshin, were killed by mortar fire in the eastern Luhansk region.

Italian photographer Andrea Rocchelli and his fixer, the well-known Russian human rights defender Andrei Mironov, who were killed by a mortar shell near Sloviansk, in the Donetsk region, on 24 May. This year’s first media fatality was Ukrainian newspaper reporter Vyacheslav Veremiy, who was gunned down in Kiev on 19 February after covering the Maidan Square protests.

More than 200 journalists have also been injured or attacked in Ukraine since the start of the year.

Reporting has become extremely difficult for journalists since the clashes between the central authorities and the anti-Kiev rebels developed into an armed conflict in April.

Dozens of journalists, bloggers and netizens have been taken hostage by anti-Kiev groups, while arrests of Russian journalists by the Ukrainian armed forces are becoming more frequent. The information war waged by the parties to the conflict has resulted in constant attacks on TV retransmission centres and harassment of local media in eastern Ukraine. Many journalists have also been harassed, attacked or detained in Crimea since its incorporation into Russia in March.

See videos of the incident, uploaded by pro-government Russian TV stations Russia Today and LifeNews:

(Photo: Pervy Kanal)