Friday Funeral In Pavia For Slain Photojournalist Andy Rochelli

May 29, 2014
Andrei Mironov (left) and Italian photojournalist Andy Rochelli were killed near Slaviansk when they were struck by mortars likely fired by Ukrainian Army troops who were stationed atop a high hill overlooking a bridge and the road.
Andrei Mironov (left) and Italian photojournalist Andy Rochelli were killed near Slaviansk when they were struck by mortars likely fired by Ukrainian Army troops who were stationed atop a high hill overlooking a bridge and the road.

By Donald R. Winslow

ROME (May 29, 2014) – A memorial service for the slain journalist Andrei Mironov was held Thursday night in Rome, and the funeral for Italian photojournalist Andy Rochelli will be Friday morning in his birthplace of Pavia.

Mironov and Rochelli were killed last Saturday in Slaviansk when they were apparently caught in crossfire between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian Army troops. French photographer William Roguelon and the trio's driver survived the attack, but Roguelon was wounded.

Rochelli's funeral on Friday morning at 11 a.m. is at the Episcopal Seminary in Pavia, the city where he was born, according to Il Ticino. The news group said the seminary's auditorium had been set up for Friday's funeral, with visitation tonight, and that the photographer and the seminary had a long family relationship going back to when Rochelli was a young boy scout there.

A memorial service for Mironov will also be held on Friday in Moscow according to the journalist's niece, Sophia (Nagovitsyna) Kayes of London, who is now in Moscow. She said Mironov's body arrived in Moscow on Thursday morning from a morgue in Kiev. The service on Friday will be in the morgue's funeral hall from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m, she says. The location is НИИ морфологии человека Цюрупы, дом 3 строение 1, and the morgue is at Tsuyruypy street 3, building 1.

Video footage today on RAI News shows the body of Rochelli being received at Rome's Ciampino Airport by family members and police along with members of the Italian Foreign Ministry's office.

Italian photojournalist Fabio Bucciarelli, in the Ukraine to cover what he says is quickly becoming a civl war, said the location where the journalists were mortally wounded has been "a no-man's land" for about ten days because the Ukrainian Army has very accurate mortar coordinates on this stretch of the road, along with a bridge into Slaviansk, making it far too dangerous for travel.

Bucciarelli, along with a veteran American conflict journalist who was in Slaviansk just days ago, told News Photographer magazine that Ukrainian Army troops are camped atop Karachun Mountain, a high hill where there is a television tower that overlooks the road and bridge. From there they have been dropping mortars with increasing accuracy onto the terrain below. 

On Sunday morning the bodies of the two journalists were found by members of the People's Militia in a ravine along a tree-lined zone, adjacent to a railroad crossing next to the Andreevka village. The finned stabilizer of a mortar shell was discovered lying nearby. The separatists said it appears as if the bodies had been blown into the trees by mortar blasts, and that they had suffered heavy injuries – and possibly additional injuries from subsequent blasts that followed after they were initially hit.

There have been other instances at this site, journalists in Ukrainia said, where the pro-Russian separatists recently opened fire on cars or people who were trying to travel through this same zone. 

The French photographer Roguelon said in a television interview that when they were attacked, at first there was heavy "Kalashnikov" machine gun fire coming at them "from the left." When they got out of the car to seek cover, that's when the heavy mortar attack began, he said. 

Mironov and Rochelli apparently sought shelter in the ravine alongside the road.  Roguelon said on television that at some point during the attack, he looked back and he saw their bodies lying on the ground. Photographs of the car show heavy damage from both bullet holes and mortar fire.

An American journalist who has been in Slaviansk and Andreevka said that Roguelon's account, along with the physical evidence, suggests that possibly the pro-Russian separatists may have opened fire on the approaching car, which then triggered the Ukrainian Army troops on Karachun Mountain to begin firing mortars. And then the journalists would be been caught in the cross-fire from both forces.

"War now, it is different," Bucciarelli told News Photographer magazine in a Skype interview from his base in the Ukraine after the journalists were killed. 

"There is no front line now. The danger can come from anywhere, at any time. And now we, the journalists, are targets too. We are targets."