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War in Ukraine | Ukrainian paramedic famous for Mariupol pictures released

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(Tallinn) A Ukrainian rescuer who became famous for broadcasting daily images captured in the besieged city of Mariupol, entrusted to a team of Associated Press (AP) reporters, was released by Russian forces on Friday, three months after her capture. on the streets of the city.

Posted at 10:36

Vasilisa Stepanenko and Lori Hinnant
Associated Press

Yuliia Paievska is known in Ukraine by the nickname Taira which she used in the World of Warcraft video game. Using a body camera, she recorded 256 gigabytes of her volunteer rescue team’s two-week response to those injured from the invasion of Ukraine, including Russian soldiers.

He entrusted the images to the last team of international journalists still present in Mariupol, those of the Associated Press, one of whom managed to escape from the scene on March 15 with these well-hidden images.

Taira and a colleague were taken prisoner the next day by Russian forces, the same day a Russian airstrike hit a downtown theater, killing around 600 people, according to an AP investigation.


Photo Yuliia Paievska, Associated Press

Yuliia Paievska during the siege of Mariupol

“It’s a great relief,” her husband, Vadim Puzanov told The Associated Press on Friday night, breathing deeply to contain her emotion.

He spoke on the phone with Taira, who was on her way to hospital in Kiev, and feared for her health.

The family had remained silent, hoping that the negotiations would continue, but the reporters of the agency were able to interview them before publishing the smuggled videos that have captured the attention of millions of viewers around the world, even on some of the largest European and US networks. Mr. Puzanov expressed his gratitude for the media coverage, which showed that Taira was trying to rescue Russian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians.

It was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who announced Taira’s release in a speech to the nation.

“I am grateful to everyone who worked for this result. Taira is already home. We will continue to work to free everyone, ”she stressed.

Hundreds of prominent Ukrainians have been kidnapped or captured, including local officials, journalists, activists and human rights defenders.

Russia has described Taira working for the Azov nationalist battalion, in keeping with the Moscow narrative that she is trying to “denazify” Ukraine. AP reporters have found no such evidence, and her friends and colleagues say she had no connection with Azov, who took one last hold at a Mariupol steel mill before hundreds of her fighters were captured or killed.


Photo Yuliia Paievska, Associated Press

Among other things, Yuliia Paievska captured this photo of a medical team trying to save an injured man in Mariupol.

In a video on March 10, we see a Ukrainian soldier cursing a wounded Russian soldier as we hear the woman asking him to calm down.

In response to a woman who asks her if she intends to heal the enemy, Taira replies that she cannot do otherwise since they are “possessors of war”.

Before volunteering as a first responder during the war in Ukraine, Taira was a member of the Ukrainian Invictus Games for military veterans, where she competed in archery and swimming. Invictus organizers introduced her as a military nurse from 2018 to 2020.

In 2021 he received a body camera to shoot a Netflix documentary series on the inspirational figures produced by British Prince Harry, who founded the Invictus Games. He used it when Russian forces invaded Ukraine to shoot scenes of wounded civilians and soldiers.

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