Rory Peck Awards 2014 News Finalist: Andriy Perun

Perun has been nominated for his dispatch Ukraine Crisis: Kiev

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The Independent Online

The Rory Peck Awards celebrate the dangerous and invaluable work of freelancers around the world. This year's event will be hosted on November 19 at the BFI Southbank. To find out more click here.

Andriy Perun is a Ukrainian freelance stringer and videojournalist. His footage - which he filed for Reuters - covers the protests and violent clashes in central Kiev that led to revolution. At least 175 journalists were injured as they covered the protests from December 2013 to February 2014, many targeted by police and rioters.

Andriy's first sequence covers the crucial events on December 1, 2013 when riot police attacked protestors young and old, eventually leading to hundreds of thousands of people coming out onto the streets in a new wave of protests. In January 2014, we see events turning increasingly violent, with protestors hurling Molotov cocktails at police, and the first shots fired. By February, snipers are shooting indiscriminately at advancing demonstrators. Dozens of protestors died that day and many hundreds injured. Three days later, President Yanukovich would flee.

From Andriy Perun:

“I was covering the protests in Kiev on December 1. Suddenly I saw a group of aggressive protesters attempting to break through police ranks to the building of the presidential administration.

It was evident they had no chance, but their task was to infuriate the police as much as possible, and in response, the ‘Berkut’ riot police began beating everybody indiscriminately with batons – be it women, elders or the press. Around 40 journalists were hurt that night. I tried to film from the side without getting either behind police or behind protesters, and I managed to stay safe. Other journalists were shouting ‘Press, Press’ or holding their press credentials in front of them, but they were still beaten up.

On January 17, the protests suddenly went to another level, and it was unexpected. The level of anger was unbelievable, and protesters starting hurling Molotov cocktails at police. I tried to capture both the overall scene of the mass protest and individual scenes of one or two angry protesters versus one or two policemen to show what was driving that which was unfolding in front of my own eyes.

Two days later….I captured the moment of a Molotov cocktail getting through police shields and setting several policemen on fire. I saw panic, and then anger.

The most danger was getting hit by Molotov cocktails. I needed to find a safe spot, and the most important thing was not to stand on the same spot for too long because sooner or later, something will come and hit you.  So while filming clashes, I tried to change my spot every five minutes.

On February 18 everybody on the street felt that something tragic was going on. Both sides were ready to tear the opposing side apart. When I saw rifles and police shooting I went behind their backs not to appear in the line of fire. It was the worst scene I have ever seen in my life.

I couldn’t believe this was happening in the country where I live. Frankly, I don’t even believe now that all this happened in Ukraine.

I have always liked jobs that are more flexible than just sitting in the office. There are assignments you like and don’t like, and even if it’s dirty and uncomfortable or dangerous work, you will do it anyway."