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A Ukrainian medic recorded harrowing scenes in Mariupol on a tiny bodycam. Now she is in Russian arms.


A celebrated Ukrainian medic recorded her time in Mariupol on an information card no larger than a thumbnail, smuggled out to the world in a tampon. Now, she is in Russian arms, and Mariupol itself is on the verge of falling.

Yuliia Paievska, who as a medic glided by Taira, used a physique digicam to file 256 gigabytes of footage on her group’s frantic efforts over two weeks to carry folks again from the brink of loss of life. She obtained the harrowing clips to an Related Press group, the final worldwide journalists within the Ukrainian metropolis of Mariupol, as they left in a uncommon humanitarian convoy.

Ukraine War Medic in Mariupol
Yuliia Paievska, often called Taira, seems to be within the mirror and turns off her digicam in Mariupol, Ukraine on Feb. 27, 2022. 

Yuliia Paievska / AP


Russian troopers captured Taira and her driver the subsequent day, March 16, one of many many compelled disappearances in areas of Ukraine now held by Russia. Russia has portrayed Taira as working for the nationalist Azov Battalion, in step with Moscow’s narrative that it’s making an attempt to “denazify” Ukraine. However the AP discovered no such proof, and associates and colleagues mentioned she had no hyperlinks to Azov.

The army hospital the place she led evacuations of the wounded will not be affiliated with Azov. And the video she recorded reveals Taira making an attempt to avoid wasting wounded Russian troopers together with Ukrainian civilians.

A March 10 clip reveals two Russian troopers are taken roughly out of an ambulance by a Ukrainian soldier. One is in a wheelchair. The opposite is on his knees, arms certain behind his again, with an apparent leg harm.

Ukraine War Medic in Mariupol
Two injured Russian troopers, left and proper, arrive at a hospital to be handled on March 10, 2022, in Mariupol, Ukraine.

Yuliia Paievska by way of AP


A Ukrainian soldier curses at considered one of them. “Relax, settle down,” Taira tells him.

A lady asks her, “Are you going to deal with the Russians?”

“They won’t be as sort to us,” she replies. “However I could not do in any other case. They’re prisoners of struggle.”

Taira, 53, is now a prisoner of the Russians, like a whole lot of native officers, journalists and different distinguished Ukrainians who’ve been kidnapped or captured. The U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has recorded 204 circumstances of enforced disappearances, saying that some victims might have been tortured and 5 have been later discovered lifeless.

The Russians have focused medics and hospitals regardless that the Geneva Conventions single out army and civilian medics for cover “in all circumstance.” Russian troopers accused a lady in a convoy from Mariupol on Might 8 of being a army medic and compelled her to decide on between letting her 4-year-old daughter accompany her to an unknown destiny or persevering with on to Ukrainian-controlled territory. The mom and baby ended up separated.

Taira’s state of affairs and what it reveals in regards to the Russia’s therapy of Ukrainian prisoners tackle new significance as Mariupol’s final defenders are delivered to Russian-held areas. Russia says greater than 1,700 Ukrainian fighters holed up at a metal mill surrendered this week, whereas Ukrainian officers mentioned the fighters got here out after engaging in their mission.

Ukraine’s authorities says it tried so as to add Taira’s title to a prisoner trade weeks in the past. However Russia denies holding her, regardless of her look on tv networks within the separatist Donetsk area of Ukraine and on the Russian NTV community, handcuffed and along with her face bruised.

Taira is thought in Ukraine as a star athlete as properly the one who skilled the nation’s volunteer medic power. The video she took from Feb. 6 to March 10 gives an intimate file of a metropolis below siege that has since turn into a worldwide image of the Russian invasion and Ukrainian resistance.

On Feb. 24, the primary day of the struggle, Taira chronicled efforts to bandage a Ukrainian soldier’s open head wound.

Two days later, she ordered colleagues to wrap a wounded Russian soldier in a blanket. She calls the younger man “Sunshine” — a favourite nickname for the numerous troopers who handed via her arms — and asks why he got here to Ukraine.

“You are caring for me,” he tells her, nearly in surprise. Her response: “We deal with everybody equally.”

Ukraine War Medic in Mariupol
Yuliia Paievska, often called Taira, watches as emergency personnel attempt to save the lifetime of a person on March 2, 2022, in Mariupol, Ukraine. 

Yuliia Paievska / AP


Later that evening, two kids — a brother and sister -—arrive gravely wounded from a checkpoint shootout. Their dad and mom are lifeless. By the top of the evening, regardless of Taira’s entreaties to “stick with me, infant,” so is the little boy.

Taira turns away from his lifeless physique and cries. “I hate (this),” she says.

All through the video, she complains about persistent ache from again and hip accidents. She cracks jokes. And all the time, she wears a stuffed animal connected to her vest handy to any kids she may deal with.

On March 15, a police officer handed the small information card to a group of Related Press journalists. Taira requested the journalists over a walkie-talkie to get the cardboard safely out of Mariupol. The cardboard was hidden inside a tampon because the journalists handed via 15 Russian checkpoints.

The following day, Taira disappeared along with her driver Serhiy.

A video aired on a March 21 Russian information broadcast introduced her seize. In it, she seems to be groggy and haggard as she reads a press release calling for an finish to the preventing. As she speaks, a voiceover derides her colleagues as Nazis.

With a husband and teenage daughter, Taira knew what struggle can do to a household. At one level, an injured Ukrainian soldier requested her to name his mom, and he or she informed him he would have the ability to name himself, “so do not make her nervous.”

Taira’s husband, Vadim Puzanov, mentioned he has obtained little information since his spouse’s disappearance.

“Accusing a volunteer medic of all mortal sins, together with organ trafficking, is already outrageous propaganda – I do not even know who it is for,” he mentioned.

Taira was a part of the Invictus Video games for Ukraine. She obtained the physique digicam final yr to movie for a Netflix documentary collection on inspirational figures being produced by Britain’s Prince Harry, who based the Invictus Video games.

As an alternative, she filmed struggle footage. Within the final video Taira shot, she is seated subsequent to the driving force who would disappear along with her. It’s March 9.

“Two weeks of struggle. Besieged Mariupol,” she says quietly. Then she curses at nobody particularly, and the display screen goes darkish.



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