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Italian photojournalist, Russian interpreter killed in Eastern Ukraine

The passports of Russian Andrey Mironov, and a passport of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli, killed on Saturday, are photographed in Slovyansk, Ukraine, 25 May 2014.
The passports of Russian Andrey Mironov, and a passport of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli, killed on Saturday, are photographed in Slovyansk, Ukraine, 25 May 2014.

AP Photo/Pool

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have called on Ukrainian authorities to carry out a detailed investigation into the circumstances of the deaths of Italian photojournalist, Andrea Rocchelli, and Russian interpreter, Andrey Mironov, who were killed in eastern Ukraine on Saturday, 24 May.

According to reports, Rocchelli and Mironov were killed in Slavyansk while covering fighting between government forces and pro-Russian insurgents. The Italian foreign ministry has advised that the exact circumstances of Rocchelli's death remain unclear because the situation on the ground was "difficult to verify," even for Ukrainian authorities.

However, William Roguelon, a French photographer who was travelling with Rocchelli and Mironov and was wounded in the incident, is reported to have said that they were hit by mortar fire as they were taking shelter in a roadside ditch.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of the highly respected journalist Andrea Rocchelli and the interpreter Andey Mironov,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “We send our heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of these men who were killed while working to ensure that the truth is told.”

“We call on authorities in Ukraine to carry out an immediate and thorough investigation to find out exactly what happened in this case and ensure those responsible are held accountable.”

Rocchelli was the co-founder of the Cesura photo agency (http://www.cesura.it/) and was well known for documenting the unrest in Ukraine. He contributed to leading media organisations such as US magazine Newsweek and the French daily Le Monde.

IFJ's Italian affiliate, the Federazione Nazionale Della Stampa Italiana (FNSI) has stated that is a day of “sadness and pain” for all those journalists who try to be "witnesses of truth". “These two men were committed to ensuring a free and independent press,” said Franco Siddi, General Secretary of the FNSI. “They were not supporters of any of the factions at war in Ukraine and we express our condolences to their families following this tragic incident.”

The IFJ and the EFJ have reiterated their call for all sides involved in the unrest in the Ukraine to respect the freedom and rights of journalists, while also urging media owners to protect their journalists and advising journalists to remain vigilant at all times and to take all necessary measures to protect their safety. Read the IFJ Safety Guidelines for journalists reporting in Ukraine HERE.

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