Tag Archives: Kyiv

Ukraine: Wounded soldiers receive celebrity treatment at Kyiv military hospital

A soldier receives a thank you note made by a child during a concert held at Kyiv military hospital. © Alexandra AzarkhinaA soldier receives a thank you note made by a child during a concert held at Kyiv military hospital. © Alexandra Azarkhina

One afternoon in Kyiv, an intimate outdoor concert has gathered an excitable crowd. Some of Ukraine’s most popular artists – including Oleksandr Ponomaryov and Alyosha, two former Eurovision Song Contest finalists – are about to perform.

The stage is not swamped by screaming teenage fans, however. Instead, the front row is reserved for wounded, wheelchair-ridden soldiers, casualties of Ukraine’s war of independence.

Here, at a special event in Kyiv’s military hospital, they are the celebrities. Paper hearts hang from trees surrounding the small square in the heart of the closed-off compound, bearing words of gratitude for the war heroes from ordinary Ukrainians. Each artist climbs off the stage after performing to hand a bouquet of flowers to the honorary guests.

“This is the least we can do to show our gratitude to these men, to alert society to what they have done for us,” says Maxim Radetskyi, the concerts organizer. “We plan to organize more such events for them in the future, all across Ukraine.”

With the help of social media, Radetskyi brought together a team of volunteers to help organize the concert. People helped in any way they could, he says. A local restaurant chain provided food free of charge, and its employees along with all other workers on the site – from security guards at the hospital entrance to the ground’s cleaners – had agreed to work at the event for free.

Wounded soldiers at a concert organized in their honor at Kyiv military hospital.Wounded soldiers at a concert organized in their honor at Kyiv military hospital.

The goodwill has not gone unnoticed by the injured soldiers. Eduard Solovor, 25, says that the emotional support he and his comrades have received while fighting Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has been crucial in upholding morale.

“We gathered great strength from the Ukrainian people, from those who believe in us and inspire us. We can’t win without that support. Ukraine was divided before this crisis, but now the people have really come together,” he says.

Solovor came under heavy gunfire during fighting outside the city of Luhansk on June 27. One bullet hit his mobile phone, which was in the right pocket of his trousers. Disintegrating upon impact, it embedded thousands of fragments in his right leg. The doctor was forced to amputate. He told Solovor he had never seen anything like it in his 33 years of experience as a military surgeon.

Standing at Solovor’s side is his wife, Alina. She takes the Kyiv Post aside and reveals that her husband had suffered an injury to his heel several years ago, which had restricted the movement in his right leg and could have exempted him from military service. He chose to fight anyway. “Thank God he lost his bad leg,” she says.

25-year-old Eduard Solovor lost his right leg while fighting Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine's east.25-year-old Eduard Solovor lost his right leg while fighting Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s east.

According to Lev Holik, the hospital’s deputy director, 127 soldiers wounded in the government’s campaign to recapture Ukraine’s eastern regions are currently being treated at the facility. The turnover is high, however, with patients discharged daily and others arriving to take their place. On a day of particularly heavy losses the hospital received 150 soldiers, Holik says, adding that a team of psychologists works round the clock with the men.

The hospital’s head surgeon, who asked to withhold his name as he was not authorized to speak with reporters, says the soldiers suffer from a range of injuries. Many have been left without limbs as a result of indiscriminate shelling by both sides in the course of the three-month conflict.

The enterprising spirit behind the concert’s organization extends to the general work of the hospital. Holik says medicines worth over Hr 5 million ($427 million) have been donated to the facility since the military conflict began.

A large part of that assistance has been secured by the Volunteer Hundred, an offshoot of the EuroMaidan movement named after the “Heavenly Hundred,” the popular term applied to activists killed by police forces during mass protests in Kyiv last winter. The organization now works at military hospitals across the country to improve soldiers’ conditions, raising public awareness and money through its Facebook page.

One of its volunteers, 29-year-old Valeriya Kislukhina, says she gave up her previous job as a financial officer at an electronics company to take charge of accounting at the Volunteer Hundred station in Kyiv’s military hospital. Every day people arrive at the facility in their cars, bringing bed sheets, medicine, food and even used kettles and wheel-chairs. One person recently bought several iPads for the soldiers, she says.

Boxes of food and other items are delivered to Kyiv military hospital every day by ordinary Ukrainians.Boxes of food and other items are delivered to Kyiv military hospital every day by ordinary Ukrainians.

Living conditions at the hospital are good, with each ward equipped with a TV and all necessary amenities. The walls are plastered with cute pictures drawn by children, complete with messages wishing the men a speedy recovery. Outside the main accommodation block, 23-year-old Anatoliy Tutumnyk entertains passers-by as his sister leans on the back of his wheelchair and laughs.

The Dnipropetrovsk native is a real personality, and something of a celebrity at the hospital. He joined the army in 2008 as a 17-year-old fresh out of high school, and was initially based in Sevastopol, the second city on the Crimean peninsula which was annexed by Russia in March. In 2011 he left and joined the reserves, signing up to fight as soon as the conflict in Ukraine’s east began. On his chest he proudly displays a “Glory and Honor” medal, awarded to him by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

He gives an enigmatic response when asked to recount his story. “All of us have the same story. There is no individualism here,” he says, referring to Ukrainians fighting the war against the insurgents in the country’s east.

Tutumnyk’s brigade was ambushed on June 19 during an offensive against separatist positions near the town of Krasny Lyman. The unit retreated and subsequently staged a second advance. An intense gunfight broke out, and Tutumnyk was struck by several bullets. One went through his passport and military documents, which he kept in the pocket of his uniform.

Anatoliy Tutumnyk watches on as artists perform at Kyiv's military hospital. The 23-year-old received a medal for bravery while fighting separatists in eastern Ukraine.Anatoliy Tutumnyk watches on as artists perform at Kyiv’s military hospital. The 23-year-old received a medal for bravery while fighting separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The 23-year-old is making a steady recovery, and is now able to walk on one leg. The other, which he keeps propped up, remains in a cast. As he speaks, his gaze is slightly offset: shrapnel from a mortar has embedded itself in his right eye, leaving it a deep red.

Despite his injuries, Tutumnyk is desperate to return to the front and join his comrades. “I’d go right now if they let me,” he says, raising himself up in his wheelchair as if preparing to leave. His sister, who drove to Kyiv as soon as she heard news that he had been transferred to the capital for treatment and now spends every day with him, says he repeats this every day.

Most of the soldiers at the hospital stay in touch with members of their unit on a daily basis, and all agree that the war in eastern Ukraine has reached a new level. Army forces fighting to secure the border are now being fired at from both sides, they say, from areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists as well as from Russia itself.

“It’s a hopeless situation. We can target rebel positions, but we can’t fire back at Russia, even though they fire at us. If we did, a real war would break out,” says 29-year-old Sasha Shvetsov.

Kyiv Post staff writer Matthew Luxmoore can be reached at mjluxmoore@gmail.com and on Twitter at @mjluxmoore.

Kyiv Post.

#Reuters: #Gunmen said to chase investigators from #MH17 crash site

A part of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured in a field near the village of Grabove on July 23, 2014. © AFPA part of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured in a field near the village of Grabove on July 23, 2014. © AFP

KIEV/KHARKIV, Ukraine, July 24 (Reuters) – Gunmen chased investigators from the site where the Malaysian airliner crashed and “lunatics” were still making life difficult for those who wanted to find out what downed flight MH17, officials said on Thursday.

As foreign ministers from Australia and the Netherlands met Ukrainian officials to coordinate the investigation, the head of Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Service and the chief of a Dutch police mission said their work at the site was being hampered.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, however, said there had been no incidents, and that they had been joined by experts from Malaysia and Australia, which lost 28 citizens in the crash.

The West has called for a thorough investigation into the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine to get justice for the 298 people who were killed, but have voiced concern that the rebels were preventing investigators from doing their job.

“They took away our tents, the ones which were at our base camp,” Serhiy Bochkovsky, the head of the emergencies service, told a news conference in the eastern city of Kharkiv from where the remains of the victims are starting their journey home.

“We were allowed only our equipment and machinery and we were chased away at gunpoint.”

He did not say when this happened.

The head of the Dutch police mission in Ukraine also said it was difficult to get access to the site to look for more of the remains of the victims, many of whom were Dutch.

“But the process is not over, there are still remains in your country and it’s very hard to get there because there are some, and I would say it’s not politically correct, but there are still some lunatics there,” Jan Tuinder said.

“It’s very hard for us to get to the remains.”

Asked about the incidents, Michael Bociurkiw, an OSCE spokesman, said: “None whatsoever.”

The Netherlands formally took over the investigation into the crash from Ukraine on Thursday after the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the downing of the plane and demanding armed groups allow “safe, secure, full and unrestricted access” to the crash site.

In Kiev, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she expected the separatists to allow a better international presence at the site.

“Now that the legal framework is in place … and that Ukraine has transferred legal responsibility to the Netherlands, we feel we’ll get more progress from the separatists,” she said.

Putting the Dutch in charge of the criminal investigation was a way to get around the opposition to the U.N. Security Council resolution voiced by Russia should Kiev lead the probe, Bishop said.

(Additional reporting by Alexander Vasovic in Donetsk; Editing by Giles Elgood)


In Kyiv, mourning continues a week after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight #MH17

Kyiv Post Editor’s Note: Kyiv photographer and video journalist Zoya Shu shot this video, with English subtitles, outside the Netherlands Embassy in Kyiv, where hundreds have come to pay their respects daily to the 298 people killed aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17. Most of the victims were Dutch residents flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

People in Kyiv mourn the victims of the MH17 flight

Shu writes: 

“At once after the #MH17 tragedy people in Kyiv, Ukraine, started bringing flowers, toys and candles to the embassies of the Netherlands, Malaysia, United Kingdom and others, to express their condolences as they mourned the victims of the flight.

They keep coming evan now. People stand there in silence, pray, cry. And only kids violate the silence by asking about it, with the childlike directness. It was rather hard to make this video, it’s just plain sadness…Ukraine, always such a peaceful and calm place, has been in turmoil for months, there have already been so many victims of this artificially fomented conflict.

I can not comprehend why people do all that evil to other people. It does not look like it will stop any time soon, but that’s one of my biggest wishes right now.”

Kyiv Post.

President Poroshenko, phone conversation with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte #MH17

Ukraine & Dutch FlagsThe Dutch Prime Minister expressed gratitude to the Ukrainian party and personally to Petro Poroshenko for all the efforts that had allowed bringing the dead bodies from MH17 flight to Kharkiv in order to further transport them to the Netherlands. “Finally, relatives and friends will have an opportunity to decently bury their loved ones. It is very important for our country,” he emphasized.

Petro Poroshenko expressed gratitude to Mark Rutte for strong position of the Netherlands in the course of today’s meeting of the Council of the European Union at the level of Foreign Ministers in Brussels. The conclusions of the Resolution stipulate additional sanctions against Russia, particularly holding of preparatory work and provision of proposals until July 24 regarding the restriction of access to the markets of capital and defensive means, dual-use markets and markets of sensitive technologies including the energy sector.

The President noted the importance of the UN Resolution, co-author of which had been the Netherlands. Mark Rutte claimed that he had an intention together with Australia and other countries whose citizens had died in a plane crash to suggest sending to Ukraine special UN Civilian Police Mission to secure the crash site and facilitate holding of proper international investigation into reasons of the disaster.

In the course of the conversation, the parties agreed to unite efforts to restore the economic conditions of regions affected by the actions of terrorists. Particularly, Prime Minister Rutte assured of the readiness of his country to become an active participant of the conference of donors and investors for Ukraine planned to be held in Kyiv in autumn.

Also available in Russian | Ukrainian

Official web-site of President of Ukraine.

Netherlands opens war crimes investigation into Malaysian #MH17 airliner downing

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Dutch ambassador to Ukraine Kees Klompenhouwer kneel down and cross themselves during a flowers laying ceremony at the Netherlands embassy in Kyiv on July 21, 2014.  © AFPUkrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Dutch ambassador to Ukraine Kees Klompenhouwer kneel down and cross themselves during a flowers laying ceremony at the Netherlands embassy in Kyiv on July 21, 2014. © AFP

Dutch prosecutors have opened an investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 on suspicion of murder, war crimes and intentionally downing an airliner, a spokesman said on July 21.

Based on the Law on International Crimes, the Netherlands can prosecute any individual who committed a war crime against a Dutch citizen. The 298 people who were killed when the plane was downed over Ukraine included 193 Dutch citizens.

The spokesman said that a Dutch public prosecutor was in Ukraine as part of the investigation.

The Dutch prime minister meanwhile threatened tough action against Russia if it did not do more to help.

Western governments have pointed the finger of blame at pro-Russian rebels and at Moscow itself over the downing of the plane. Russia has denied involvement and blamed the Ukrainian military for the disaster.

“It is clear that Russia must use her influence on the separatists to improve the situation on the ground,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a committee of the Dutch parliament.

“If in the coming days access to the disaster area remains inadequate, then all political, economic and financial options are on the table against those who are directly or indirectly responsible for that,” he said.

His comments reflected a change in tone from previous days, when he had stressed the importance of ascertaining the facts of the crash before considering a response.

Rutte on Monday promised lawmakers “measures would not be lacking” if it was confirmed who was responsible for bringing down the airliner.

Rutte’s remarks followed days of mounting pressure calling on the government to take a harder line against Russia.

“In the Netherlands we are inclined to approach our opponents in a fair and socially acceptable way in hope that opponents will respond in kind,” said Dick Berlijn, a former head of the Dutch armed forces who has been outspoken in calling for a tougher approach.

“What we have seen, especially with the Russian administration is this didn’t impact at all, they saw this as a weakness,” he said in an interview with Reuters.

Russia, is the Netherlands’ second-largest oil supplier and a major export destination for Dutch manufacturers. But growing consternation over the fate of flight MH-17 and its passengers may be forcing the government into taking a harder line.

On Monday afternoon, relatives of some of the passengers who lost their lives met Rutte alongside the Dutch King and Queen to be briefed on efforts to recover their bodies and to allow them to give their views on what sort of a memorial service should be held.

(Reporting By Thomas Escritt, editing by Angus MacSwan)