A Ukrainian soldier curses at one of them. “Calm down, calm down,” Taira tells him. A woman asks her, “Are you going to treat the Russians?” “They will not be as kind to us,” she replies. “But I couldn’t do otherwise. They are prisoners of war.”
A celebrated Ukrainian medic recorded her time in Mariupol on a data card no bigger than a thumbnail, smuggled out to the world in a tampon. Now she is in Russian hands, at a time when Mariupol itself is on the verge of falling, AP reports.
Yuliia Paievska is known in Ukraine as Taira, a moniker from the nickname she chose in the World of Warcraft video game. Using a body camera, she recorded 256 gigabytes of her team’s frantic efforts over two weeks to bring people back from the brink of death. She got the harrowing clips to an Associated Press team, the last international journalists in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, as they left in a rare humanitarian convoy.
Russian soldiers captured Taira and her driver the next day, March 16, one of many forced disappearances in areas of Ukraine now held by Russia. Russia has portrayed Taira as working for the nationalist Azov Battalion, in line with Moscow’s narrative that it is attempting to “denazify” Ukraine. But the AP found no such evidence, and friends and colleagues said she had no links to Azov.
The military hospital where she led evacuations of the wounded is not affiliated with the battalion, whose members have spent weeks defending a sprawling steel plant in Mariupol. The footage Taira recorded itself testifies to the fact that she tried to save wounded Russian soldiers as well as Ukrainian civilians.
A clip recorded on March 10 shows two Russian soldiers taken roughly out of an ambulance by a Ukrainian soldier. One is in a wheelchair. The other is on his knees, hands bound behind his back, with an obvious leg injury. Their eyes are covered by winter hats, and they wear white armbands.
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