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Last Update: 16 Hour and 25 Minute ago
News code: 21951
Published Date: Saturday 31 May 2014 - 14:48:31
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Slavyansk kids escape to Russia from Kiev’s shelling

Slavyansk kids escape to Russia from Kiev’s shelling
World  - A group of some 200 children have been evacuated to Russia’s Crimea from the Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, which has become the scene of constant battles between local militia and troops loyal to Kiev.



The children, aged between 8 and 16, are being housed in various summer camps on the peninsula. The journey was not entirely trouble free. On Friday, there were reports that buses carrying the evacuated children were not allowed to cross the border by Ukrainian guards and had to turn back. But now all of them are safe in Russia.

RT spoke to some of the kids, who will spend at least a month in Crimea, about how they feel after leaving their home city that has become a battlefield.
 “The city often comes under mortar shelling. People get hurt as a result. A mortar shell splinter the size of a walnut hit my grandpa’s leg and pierced the bone. If it went a little deeper, it could hit an artery, and that would be it for him,” one of the evacuees, Vladislav, said.

“It’s so unusually calm and quiet here compared to Slavyansk. No explosions going off. It was scary. Nobody expected that things like that could start in our city, which was never famous for anything,” another one, Maria, said.

“I was very scared. There were explosions. My dad just celebrated his birthday and he was woken by the sound of shelling on that day. I’m very glad I’m here now. It’s calm here,” said Darya, a girl in her early teens.

“What was frightening is when a shell flew by your window or you heard shots fired nearby. That’s what frightening,” said a boy called Artyom.

While Kiev’s troops say they are not targeting civilians in their onslaught on the militias, artillery fire regularly hits residential areas in Slavyansk. On Friday morning, several shells hit a children’s policlinic and a hospital in the city. Earlier in the week a kindergarten and a school were damaged. So it’s no surprise that Slavyansk residents want to get their children away from the city.

The evacuation to Crimea was used by Kiev to mount some allegations against the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. A spokesman for the military operation, which Kiev calls an “anti-terrorist” one, claimed that militia fighters wanted to escape the city under the cover of the humanitarian convoy or stage a provocation.

“The kids are in danger due to a threat of provocation on the part of the terrorists. A column with so many children is a target for a terrorist attack. We don’t need a new Beslan,” Vladimir Seleznyov said.

Earlier the commander of the operation accused the militia of using civilians as human shields.

Kiev authorities have a habit of accusing those opposing them of various atrocities, often not bothering to back them with proof. The Friday hospital shelling was also blamed on militias by the Ukrainian troops, who said the self-defense squad in Slavyansk wanted to frame them.

“This propaganda strikes me as very ham-fisted and, frankly, absurd,” Nebojsa Malic from the R. Archibald Reiss institute for Serbian studies commented for RT. “If the people in Slavyansk wanted to really make a propaganda bid out of it, they would have tried to keep the civilians in and emphasize their suffering to the world media.”

“It’s much more likely that they are just trying to get the children away so that they don’t fall victim to the indiscriminate shelling by the government forces.”

Tags:: russia - Ukrain
News Code: 21951
Published Date: Saturday 31 May 2014 - 14:48:31
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