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#Russian #Actor Slammed on #Twitter for Firing Weapon in #Ukraine potentially making every #journalist a target
Every person who uses weapons while hiding behind press identification assumes responsibility for the future deaths of journalists.
Russian Actor Mikhail Porechenkov. Potentially making every journalist a target.
Anna Dolgov, The Moscow Times.
A Russian actor wearing a helmet marked “Press” has been caught on video firing a machine gun from a battle site in eastern Ukraine, in a stunt that provoked outrage on Russian and Ukrainian social networks.
After the video of Mikhail Porechenkov discharging his machine gun from Donetsk Airport was posted Thursday on the YouTube account of separatist “Novorossia TV,” Russian-language hashtags “#PorechenkovKiller” and “#PorechenkovTerrorist” went viral on Twitter, with some journalists saying the actor had brought additional dangers to reporters in war zones.
“Every [individual] who uses weapons while hiding behind press identification assumes responsibility for the future deaths of journalists,” Russian journalist Alexander Vishnevsky said via Twitter in a message that was retweeted hundreds of times within a few hours. Instead of “individual,” he used an expletive that can be loosely translated as “sh!thead.”
At least eight journalists and their assistants have been killed in Ukraine since the start of this year. They are Russia’s VGTRK television correspondent Igor Kornelyuk and sound engineer Anton Voloshin; Italian photographer Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian fixer Andrei Mironov; Ukrainian journalist Vyacheslav Veremiy, who was shot in February during protests in Kiev; Sergei Dolgov, the editor-in-chief of a pro-Russian newspaper in eastern Ukraine; Russia’s Channel One cameraman Anatoly Klyan; and Rossia Segodnya photographer Andrei Stenin.
Porechenkov said after his stunt that he had visited rebel-controlled Donetsk to see how a cease-fire between separatists and government forces was holding up.
“In the airport I could already clearly see that there isn’t and hadn’t been any cease-fire,” Porechenkov was quoted as saying by Gazeta.ru, without elaborating on which signs of continued fire he had witnessed. The video of Porechenkov mingling with rebels at what Novorossia TV described as a “battle position” featured no signs or sounds of a battle until the actor and a separatist next to him began firing their weapons.
The shooting appeared to be mostly a symbolic demonstration of valor in front of a video camera, and there was no indication that any of the shots hit Ukrainian forces’ positions or civilians.
Separatists accompanying Porechenkov at the rebel stronghold were clad in military fatigues and camouflage helmets. But the actor wore a blue bulletproof vest and helmet marked with the word “Press” on its back. The letters are partially visible in the video posted by Novorossia TV and can easily be read in photos of the incident that have been circulated online.
Porechenkov said the goals of his visit included delivering “medications for hospitals” in separatist eastern Ukraine. The Russian government has also pledged to deliver “humanitarian aid” to rebel-controlled areas, though Kiev and Western nations accuse it of primarily supplying weapons and fighters — a charge Moscow denies.
A leader of Russia’s democratic political opposition, Ilya Yashin, gave an account of Porechenkov’s machine-gun firing in a Twitter message, concluding: “A dove of peace.”
Porechenkov is perhaps best known for his leading role in recent film “Poddubny,” a biographical movie about famed Russian and Soviet wrestler Ivan Poddubny, who was born in what is now Ukraine.
The actor told Gazeta.ru that Russian filmmakers planned to show the film in eastern Ukraine, although the “Ukrainian authorities have banned it for some reason.”
The Ukrainian Culture Ministry announced earlier this year that it was banning the distribution of “Poddubny,” citing the same flaws for which the movie had been criticized by some Russian reviewers — distorting historical facts to promote Russia’s greatness.
Mehdi Hassan, also known as Abu Dujana. He is the fourth member of the ‘Britani Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys’ to die.
Lizzie Dearden reporting,
A teenage jihadist from Portsmouth has become the fourth extremist from the city to be killed fighting with Isis in Syria.
Mehdi Hassan, 19, travelled to the war-torn country in October last year with a group of friends calling themselves the “Britani Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys”.
Photos purporting to show his dead body appeared on Isis-affiliated Twitter accounts on Friday night, with fellow militants claiming he was killed fighting in Kobani.
The Syrian border town has seen intense fighting in recent weeks, with the US-led coalition bombing Isis militants and dropping weapons to Kurdish fighters attempting to stop the group’s advance.
The Foreign Office said it could not confirm Mr Hassan’s death but “was aware of reports about the death of a British national in Syria”.
Mehdi Hassan’s Twitter account
The news did not reach his family, who live in Southsea, until Saturday morning as gruesome pictures of his body circulated on social media.
The chairman of their local Portsmouth Jami Mosque, Abdul Jalil, said he had spoken to Mr Hassan’s relatives.
“It has been confirmed with the family that he has died. Right now they are very upset,” he told the BBC.
“I am saddened and again shocked for the community about this news.”
The teenager, a former pupil at the independent St John’s College in Southsea, flew to Turkey and crossed into Syria instead of going to university.
His friends, Iftekar Jaman, Mamunur Roshid and Hamidur Rahman, have previously been killed in the fighting.
Mr Roshid’s death, at the age of 24, had been confirmed on Tuesday.
People watch an explosion after an apparent US-led coalition air strike on Kobani, Syria
Mr Hassan went by the name Abu Dujana in Syria and on social media.
He last posted on his Twitter account @AbuDujana___ on 17 October, writing about the intensity of air strikes in Ayn al-Arab – an alternative name for Kobani.
“Between 20-40 US strikes daily in ayn al arab. Alhamdulillah they are spending $10’s of billions…against themselves,” he wrote.
He had previously written about jihad and the goal of “ultimate success in the hereafter”, although his account had been deleted by Twitter several times.
Mashudur Choudhury, who left the UK with Mr Hassan, returned to the UK after just a few weeks and was arrested at Gatwick Airport.
He has since been convicted of terrorist offences in the first such case related to the conflict in Syria.
Assad Uzzaman is believed to be the last surviving member of the “Bad Boys” still fighting there.
An estimated 500 Britons are among 2,000 foreign fighters who have joined Isis, which calls itself the Islamic State.
It is waging a bloody war across Syria and Iraq to establish a hardline Islamic caliphate.