Ukraine-Russia: Tributes pour in for radio journalist killed in Kyiv shelling as Nato chief warns of 'years' of war

A radio journalist was killed in overnight strikes on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, as a NATO chief warned that the war could go on for years.

Vira Hyrych, who was described by her employer, US-funded Radio Liberty, as a "true professional”, was at home in her apartment in Kyiv’s Shevchenkivsky district when the strike hit. It is likely that the target was a large military factory, Artem, across the street from the apartment block. It is understood that some of the flats were not occupied as they had only recently been built.

Tributes poured in for Ms Hyrych, who had worked for the broadcaster since 2018, as the State Committee for Television and Radio-Broadcasting said Russian troops committed 243 crimes against journalists and media in 16 Ukrainian regions since the war began.

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As well as seven journalists who have been killed while working, 15 went missing, 14 died as combatants or from Russian shelling when they were not on duty, nine were wounded, and eight journalists were abducted.

Journalist Vira Hyrych died in Kyiv after a Russian missile strike hit the residential building where she lived in the Ukrainian capital.
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“A wonderful person is gone," Ms Hyrych’s colleague, Oleksandr Demchenko, said on Facebook.

Olga Tokariuk wrote that Ms Hyrch’s body had been found underneath the rubble of the apartment building and said the killing had “hit close to home”.

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“Yesterday's Russian missile strike on Kyiv killed my colleague from the media,” she said. “Vira Hyrych, a producer at [Radio Liberty], died as a result of Russian strike on a residential block. Her body was found under the rubble in the morning. Other friend's flat was damaged. It hits close to home.”

Radio Free Europe President Jamie Fly said the broadcaster was “shocked and angered by the senseless nature of her death at home in a country and city she loved.”

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Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, said he had knwn Ms Hyrych personally.

"Deepest condolences to her family and loved ones. A great loss,” he wrote.

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Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said that the timing of the strikes – while United Nations Secretary General António Guterres was on a highly-publicised visit to the Ukrainian capital following a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow – was the Kremlin “giving the middle finger”

He said: “What is significant now, is that the Secretary General of the United Nations is in Kyiv,” he said. “This is a so-called hello to him. Putin showed his middle finger at this moment. Shelling our homes, destroying them. Putin’s target is not houses, his target is people’s lives.”

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Nato deputy secretary-general Mircea Geoană said that he believed the next few weeks could be “decisive”, but said the conflict was likely to drag on.

“It could be weeks, could be months, could be even years — it depends on a lot of factors. But, in the end, probably this will be fought and won, hopefully, by Ukraine on the battlefield.”

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Ukraine-Russia: British aid workers captured by Russian military

The UK said it is sending war crimes experts to help Ukraine with its investigations into atrocities committed by Russian invaders, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced.

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The Foreign Office said the team of experts, due to arrive in neighbouring Poland in early May, will support the Ukrainian government in gathering evidence and prosecuting war crimes and will include experts in conflict-related sexual violence.

Ms Truss said: "Russia has brought barbarity to Ukraine and committed vile atrocities, including against women.

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"British expertise will help uncover the truth and hold (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's regime to account for its actions. Justice will be done."

Ms Truss was due on Friday to visit The Hague to meet with the president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has opened a probe into alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

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Moscow does not recognise the authority of the ICC, presenting obvious difficulties.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence said Russia is paying a high price for limited gains of land in Ukraine's east.

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"The Battle of Donbas remains Russia's main strategic focus, in order to achieve its stated aim of securing control over the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts," the department said in its latest intelligence update.

"Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains have been limited and achieved at significant cost to Russian forces."

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Meanwhile, around 8,000 British Army troops are to take part in exercises across eastern Europe to combat Russian aggression in one of the largest deployments since the Cold War.

Dozens of tanks will be deployed to countries ranging from Finland to North Macedonia this summer under plans that have been enhanced since the invasion of Ukraine.

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the "show of solidarity and strength" will see UK service personnel joining with Nato allies and those from the Joint Expeditionary Force alliance, which includes Finland and Sweden, for the exercises.

The UN is believed to be working to attempt to evacuate thousands of civilians still trapped in a steel plant in Mariupol, with little water, food, heat or electricity.

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“I cannot confirm the exact details of the operation to make sure it is done with safety for our people and for civilians stranded in Mariupol” said Saviano Abreu, a spokesperson for the UN’s humanitarian office.

According to local media, Ukraine's ombudsman for human rights, Lyudmyla Denisova, has warned that Russian forces are not allowing men to enter or exit the city, while all residents of Mariupol are forced to undergo a special procedure called “filtration,” where Russian forces question and often torture civilians.

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