Russia frees Yuliia Paievska, a celebrated medic who filmed Mariupol’s horror

A celebrated Ukrainian medic whose footage was smuggled out of the besieged metropolis of Mariupol by an Related Press group was freed by Russian forces on Friday, three months after she was taken captive on the streets of the town.

Yuliia Paievska is understood in Ukraine as Taira, a nickname she selected within the World of Warcraft online game. Utilizing a physique digicam, she recorded 256 gigabytes of her group’s efforts over two weeks to save lots of the wounded, together with each Russian and Ukrainian troopers.

She transferred the clips to an Related Press group, the final worldwide journalists within the Ukrainian metropolis of Mariupol, one in all whom fled with it embedded in a tampon on March 15. Taira and a colleague have been taken prisoner by Russian forces on March 16, the identical day a Russian airstrike hit a theater within the metropolis heart, killing round 600 folks, in keeping with an Related Press investigation.

“It was such an amazing sense of reduction. These sound like such atypical phrases, and I do not even know what to say,” her husband, Vadim Puzanov, instructed The Related Press late Friday, respiration deeply to comprise his emotion. Puzanov stated he spoke by telephone with Taira, who was en path to a Kyiv hospital, and feared for her well being.

Ukraine Mariupol Medic Freed
This undated picture supplied by the Invictus Video games Crew Ukraine exhibits Yuliia Paievska, referred to as Taira, a celebrated Ukrainian medic who used a physique digicam to document her work in Mariupol whereas the port metropolis was beneath Russian siege. 

Invictus Video games Crew Ukraine / AP

Initially the household had saved quiet, hoping negotiations would take their course. However The Related Press spoke with him earlier than releasing the smuggled movies, which in the end had tens of millions of viewers world wide, together with on a number of the largest networks in Europe and the USA. Puzanov expressed gratitude for the protection, which confirmed Taira was making an attempt to save lots of Russian troopers in addition to Ukrainian civilians.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy introduced Taira’s launch in a nationwide tackle.

“I am grateful to everybody who labored for this end result. Taira is already residence. We’ll preserve working to free everybody,” he stated.

A whole bunch of outstanding Ukrainians have been kidnapped or captured, together with native officers, journalists, activists and human rights defenders.

Russia portrayed Taira as working for the nationalist Azov Battalion, in step with Moscow’s narrative that it’s trying to “denazify” Ukraine. However the AP discovered no such proof, and pals and colleagues stated she had no hyperlinks to Azov, which made a final stand in a Mariupol metal plant earlier than lots of of its fighters have been captured or killed.

The footage itself is a visceral testomony to her efforts to save lots of the wounded on each side.

Ukraine Mariupol Medic Freed
Yuliia Paievska, referred to as Taira, seems to be in a mirror and turns off her digicam in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Feb. 27, 2022. 

Yuliia Paievska / AP

A clip recorded on March 10 exhibits two Russian troopers taken roughly out of an ambulance by a Ukrainian soldier. One is in a wheelchair. The opposite is on his knees, arms sure behind his again, with an apparent leg damage. Their eyes are lined by winter hats, and so they put on white armbands.

A Ukrainian soldier curses at one in all them. “Relax, relax,” Taira tells him.

A girl 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 battle.”

Taira was a member of the Ukraine Invictus Video games for navy veterans, the place she was set to compete in archery and swimming. Invictus stated she was a navy medic from 2018 to 2020 however had since been demobilized.

She obtained the physique digicam in 2021 to movie for a Netflix documentary collection on inspirational figures being produced by Britain’s Prince Harry, who based the Invictus Video games. However when Russian forces invaded, she used it to shoot scenes of injured civilians and troopers as a substitute.

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