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Human Rights Investigations
BBC propaganda and the shooting of civilians in Mariupol

So-called “anti-terror operations” in Mariupol today have seen a number of deaths as Ukrainian military and “National Guard” (an outfit including many virtually untrained neo-fascists) face off against crowds of unarmed protestors. The BBC covered this situation and, whilst admitting the Ukrainian army is killing unarmed civilians, have edited a video to cut out the part where the Ukrainian army shoots two unarmed civilians, including a cameraman and a man who is on his knees with his hands in the air.

During the incident in question, Ukrainian APCs drive past, shooting one man who tries to get in the way. Ukrainian infantry are then seen trying to cross a road, in the face of a hostile crowd of locals who are accusing them of being fascists. One man maintains a position on the corner providing cover as his unit run across the road one by one. It seems highly unlikely he considers there is a massive risk from the crowd or he would be sheltering on the other side of the building.

As the last infantryman crosses the road, one of the soldiers, who is covering the retreat, appears to fire four shots. The first hits the road, the target of the second is unclear but may have hit a man in a suit in the leg, whilst the third shot hits a man who has been kneeling on the ground very close to the shooter remonstrating. The fourth shot hits a cameraman (wearing blue).

Seeing the three men being shot, the crowd extremely bravely (a consistent feature of clashes in Eastern Ukraine) surges forward and a man can be seen firing two pistol shots towards one of the men who has just been shooting at civilians.

At least two more civilians are then shot by the soldiers, in each case because they appear to be trying to throw chairs towards them.

Clearly, what we are seeing unfolding is a war crime, as it is impermissible to use deadly force against civilians in this way.

It appears that a stringer for Ruptly was amongst the victims, and we wish him a full recovery.

We do not know who the man with the pistol is. We do know that some policemen including the Head of Mariupol’s traffic police were killed by the Ukrainian army during today’s events.

It is sad that someone should seek to distort the facts of this incident in order to produce propaganda, but that is what Gabriel Gatehouse ( @ggatehouse ) and the BBC Newsnight team seem to have decided to do.

They have shown part of the first video below, cutting out the early part and failing to give the context. The part they have cut out is the part which shows the cameraman and the kneeling man with his hands up being shot at close range – their version of the clip begins with the man, wo they describe as “pro-Russian” (rather than, for instance, “anti-Fascist” or “Federalist”) shooting the pistol.

This is Gabriel Gatehouse’s commentary on the incident:

“But not all the pro-Russian protestors were unarmed. Here a man in black is clearly seen firing a pistol towards a Ukrainian soldier.”

By cutting out the prior footage of the soldier shooting two unarmed civilians, including a cameraman and a man on his knees, Gatehouse gives the impression this is an unprovoked act by the gunman, rather than either an act of retaliation or an attempt to defend the crowd.

Gatehouse continues, “A moment later another shot rings out, and a man falls to the ground.” Gatehouse doesn’t point out that this man is another unarmed civilian, shot by the Ukrainian army, or that another man was shot shortly after him in the same way.

Here are the relevant videos:

This is the original longer video from which the BBC took their excerpt:

Another view from across the road is very helpful in understanding the incident. The man kneeling is shot at 0:28:

This is another view of the incident: (The four rifle shots are on 7.00, 7.03, 7.04 and 7.05):

This is footage taken by Ruptly’s stringer shortly before he was wounded:

Another view of the man kneeling on the ground, with his hands up as he is shot. This footage also shows the aftermath as people are put in cars to be taken to hospital.

[The video has been cancelled]

Gabriel Gatehouse has as yet failed to explain why the BBC edited the video in the way it did, but this may be the subject of another complaint to the BBC.

Human Rights Investigations
May 10, 2014

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