By Donald R. Winslow
ROME (May 25, 2014) – The Italian Foreign Ministry today confirmed that photojournalist Andy Rocchelli, 30, and his interpreter, journalist Andrei Mironov, a Russian citizen from RU Memorial, died from wounds suffered yesterday in Slaviansk.
Rocchelli, who has been living lately in Pianello and Pavia, was one of the four founders of the photographic collective Cesura. Most recently he was widely known for a photograph of children hiding from shelling in a shelter in Slavyansk.
The Italian photojournalist and his Russian translator were reportedly traveling in a car along with French photographer William Roguelon when they were caught in an ambush near Andreevka in Donestk.
Roguelon told journalist Roza Kazan that the attack came from the Ukrainian side. He told her that at first there was heavy machine gun fire, and then they were in the middle of a mortar attack. He ran for cover, he said, and when he looked back the bodies of his two comrades were on the ground. Only Roguelon and the driver were able to escape.
Callegari told News Photographer magazine that Roguelon was taken to a hospital for treatment after the attack, and that he was treated for wounds and that now he is now okay. Kazan is reporting that the bodies of Rocchelli and Mironov are expected to be taken to a morgue in Slavyansk later today.
Photographer Chiara Callegari in Milan today said that Rocchelli is survived by his girlfriend, Maria Chiara, and their young son Nico, who just turned three years old yesterday.
“He always said that he chose to be a photoreporter because he had the urge to tell the stories that no one else tells,” Callegairi told News Photographer magazine today. She last heard from Rocchelli three days ago, via eMail.
“He told me what the situation was, with tanks and bombs and crazy people, and bombings every night,” Callegari said. She said that Rocchelli may have been reporting for a Russian human rights group RU Memorial at the time he died.
“He always assured me that everything was fine,” Callegari said. “He was a great guy, and such a talented photographer.”
Rocchelli’s mother and father left today for the Ukraine to bring back their son's body, Callegari said. It is unclear whether Rocchelli and his fixer were shot or, as many reports say, hit by the Ukrainian Army's mortar shells.
This was the last known dispatch filed by Rocchelli, according to Kazan.
Rocchelli had appeared twice at the Cortona On The Move photography festival, the first time with an exhibition and the second time to present a book produced by the Cesura collective.
Italy’s RAI News reported that Rocchelli had a master's degree from the Politecnico di Milano, School of Visual Design, and that he worked for Grazia and Blacks Photo Agency in 2007 as an assistant in the studio of Alex Majoli.
Since 2009, Rocchelli has been documenting the abuse of civilians in the states of the Caucasus Checenya in Ingushetia and Dagestan, RAI says. In 2010, in collaboration with Human Rights Watch documents the ethnic crisis in southern Kyrgyzstan. Since 2011, covers the events of the "Arab Spring" in Tunisia and Libya.
Mironov was a former Soviet dissident, a journalist and an activist for human rights for 60 years. He spent two years in a Soviet labor camp, internazionale.it reports. Engaged in conflict zones and an expert in issues related to Eastern Europe, Mironov worked in the Caucasus and Chechnya, had supported the protests against Putin, and reported on the situation in Kiev and Crimea. He lived in Moscow but was often in Italy, becoming a reference point for many foreign journalists who were in Russia or countries of the former Soviet Union.