Two journalists for Russian TV channel Rossiya have died from wounds sustained during a Ukrainian military shelling attack near Lugansk, eastern Ukraine. Reporter Igor Kornelyuk passed away on the operating table, a doctor at the hospital confirmed to RT.
The doctor told RT that "sadly, he has passed away."
Just minutes ago Kornelyuk, a reporter for the Russian channel Rossiya, was in critical condition and had been receiving phone calls from Moscow. The attending doctor, however, had been answering his calls.
Rossiya TV has confirmed its sound engineer Anton Voloshin, who was working with Igor Kornelyuk, was also killed in the attack.
According to RT's information, Voloshin died immediately at the scene. However, this information could not be verified until recently as the fighting was ongoing and it was not possible to approach the body.
The Rossiya channel crew consisted of three people with only one of them, Viktor Denisov, the cameraman, surviving the Ukrainian military shelling. Denisov identified both Voloshin and Kornelyuk.
He told LifeNews how he managed to get out of harm’s way during the attack that claimed his colleague’s life.
The cameraman said he was standing 100 meters from the spot where the mortar exploded.
“I must say I was really lucky, I’d walked toward our cars, about 100 meters away, and that’s when the shelling started. My colleagues were supposed to have been out of the range of fire, but for some reason one of the shells flew straight into them,” Denisov said.
When the attack began, Denisov ran toward the fleeing residents, who stood nearby. They managed to escape together.
Speaking to Vesti, Denisov recounted the events that transpired in the initial minutes of the shelling.
He recalled getting closer to shoot some footage, but was told not to go further. As soon as soldier motioned with his hand for everyone to get down, Denisov heard the pop next to the defense forces.
“This is when I ran over to our guys and to the soldiers that had been wounded in the explosion, all the while trying to get some footage and help to get the fleeing people to safety. We walked for a kilometer,”he said. “Walking in the open was dangerous. The sound of exploding mines could be heard the entire time. We had shrapnel fly in our direction.”
The Rossiya crew had been taken to the scene of the shelling by taxi.
They were escorted by the self-defense forces in a village near Lugansk and headed toward a local checkpoint.
Their position was then shelled and the self-defense forces told the crew to head for safety.
A taxi driver, who was giving a ride to the three journalists, said that a shell landed right at the spot where they were standing.
“Three journalists and 10-15 militias came under fire. We were standing at a traffic police post at the entrance of the town of Metallist. Journalists got out of the car to observe the fighting and shoot video of the smoke. Literally a minute later, several shells hit them right at the spot where they were standing,” the taxi driver recalled.
He added that the journalists wore no bulletproof vests or helmets, but “even if they had, this would not have helped them.”
A local resident who witnessed the shelling also said that a mine had apparently detonated right next to a group of journalists, of which the Rossiya crew was a part.
“Our hospital is receiving many wounded as the shelling continues,” a local doctor told RT over the phone.
Igor Kornelyuk was 37-years-old. He was born in the Ukrainian city of Zaporozhie. Kornelyuk worked as a journalist outside the country, but he last returned there on June 1 to cover events in south-eastern Ukraine. Kornelyuk is survived by his wife and seven-year old daughter.
Moscow slams Kiev for unleashing 'terror' against Russian reporters
The Russian Foreign Ministry has condemned the attack and Kornelyuk killing.
"The death of the Russian journalist near Lugansk has shown in its entirety the criminal nature of the forces that launched the military operation in the country’s east," said the ministry in a statement.
"We are proud of all journalists who, coming under machine-gun fire, shelling, artillery or aircraft bombs, courageously deliver the truth about what's really happening in Ukraine. It is the very truth authorities in Kiev and various militant groups are afraid of, who have organized real terror towards journalists from Russia," Russia's Foreign Ministry statement says.
The ministry said it is awaiting strong condemnation from all world media outlets.
"We demand Ukrainian authorities immediately carry out an independent investigation into this tragedy and punish the culprits," the statement read.
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic condemned the killing of Russian journalists in Ukraine and called for those responsible to be brought to justice, Itar Tass reports.