A Russian journalist has died in eastern Ukraine after being shot while trying to film a protest by separatist-minded women against the Ukrainian army, news reports said.
Cameraman Anatoly Klyan was killed Sunday night near an army base in Donetsk, Klyan's employer, television station Channel One, said in a statement quoted by Itar-Tass. It blamed the Ukrainian military.
"Shots were fired unexpectedly by the military," the statement said. "Anatoly Klyan was mortally wounded in the stomach. He was 68."
Klyan and other journalists traveled to the base alongside a group of Ukrainian women who had come to demand that the military discharge their sons who had been drafted into the army, Russian media reports said, adding that the trip was organized by the region's pro-Russian separatists.
"The mothers were to take their sons home," Andrei Purgin, a separatist deputy premier of Donetsk, told Interfax. "But their bus came under fire near the military base."
Itar-Tass reported that after some initial shots were fired, journalists — including a team from LifeNews television — got back on the bus and drove about 500 meters away from the scene of the shooting. When they disembarked, they saw a flare light up in the sky, followed by another barrage of automatic gun fire, the report said.
After Klyan was shot, his colleagues hitched a ride with a passing car to take him to a nearby hospital, but the operator later died from his wounds, Itar-Tass reported.
Vladimir Makovich, the speaker of the separatist Donetsk legislature, said the bus that was carrying the women and journalists was decorated with posters that read: "Sons, come home!" attached from its windows, Itar-Tass reported.
"Those who were shooting did not want to see it or hear the mothers' appeals," Makovich was quoted as saying. "They were simply shooting at a passing car that presented no danger."
Russia's Investigative Committee said Monday in an online statement that it was opening a criminal case into the killing of Klyan, who had become the latest victim of the Ukrainian authorities' failure to observe "the generally accepted international rules on the protection of civilians during armed conflict."
“The Investigative Committee will continue to collect evidence of these crimes and will take all possible measures within the law, so that everyone guilty of these crimes is punished,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in the statement.
Five other journalists have been killed in Ukraine and more than 200 have been injured since the beginning of the year, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Klyan's death comes less than two weeks after correspondent Igor Kornelyuk and sound engineer Anton Voloshin, from state media company VGTPK, were killed after being hit by mortar fire during fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops. Voloshin was killed instantly, and Kornelyuk died while in surgery.