Anatoly Klyan, 68, a camera operator for the Russian state-owned broadcaster Pervy Kanal (Channel One), died on June 30, 2014, at a hospital in Donetsk, Ukraine, from bullet wounds in his abdomen, local and international press reported. Channel One said Klyan was wounded when the bus in which he was traveling came under fire.
Klyan was traveling to a besieged military base outside Donetsk on a bus with civilians and journalists, a trip organized by pro-Russia separatists with the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. Forbes-Russia and the popular Moscow-based broadcaster Ekho Moskvy said that late on June 29, 2014, separatists told journalists that they had negotiated the surrender of a Ukrainian army unit and invited the journalists to film soldiers being greeted by their mothers.
The bus, driven by a man in a camouflage uniform with separatists’ insignia, came under fire when it approached the base and then swiftly retreated, according to a video published by the pro-Kremlin broadcaster Life News and news reports. Photos of the bus, published by Russian media and foreign journalists on Twitter, showed no “press” signs on the bus’s exterior but some hand-written posters in the windows calling on soldiers to stop fighting and come home.
In the Life News video, Klyan is seen saying that he is wounded. He was not wearing any protective gear, such as a helmet or flak jacket.
Russian journalist Orkhan Dzhemal, who was at the military base during the attack on the bus, told independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta that the women on the bus were pro-Russia activists, not soldiers’ mothers.
Novaya Gazeta reported, citing RIA Novosti, that Aleksandr Boroday, the Donetsk People’s Republic’s self-declared prime minister, denied responsibility for the bus trip and said it had not been sanctioned by him. On July 4, 2014, Russian broadcaster Echo Moskvy reported that a People’s Republic official had been arrested in connection with the bus trip that resulted in Klyan’s death.
Ukrainian regional prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into the incident, the independent news website Ukrainska Pravda reported.
In February 2018, Russia’s Investigative Committee charged Nikolai Malomen, a lieutenant colonel and commander of “Center,” the Donetsk-based anti-aircraft missile regiment of the Ukrainian armed forces, in absentia for organizing Klyan’s killing, according to a report on the Investigative Committee’s official website. Russian investigators stated that Malomen ordered soldiers to open fire on the bus, according to the website.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces denied the accusations against Malomen and called them “baseless” in a statement to independent Ukrainian broadcaster Hromadske.