Citing “content differences” German magazine Der Spiegel removed a video showing the testimony of an evacuee from the “Azovstal” factory in Mariupol, stronghold of neo-Nazi militants from Azov and other Ukrainian fighters. The woman in the video had revealed that her family was essentially being lied to, held hostage and used as human shields by Ukrainian militants.
Another German outlet, Junge Welt, noticed the removal on Thursday evening. According to JW, Der Spiegel released the three-minute video on Monday. It starred Natalia Usmanova, who had worked in Azovstal before the conflict and had taken refuge there with her husband and children.
In the recording, Usmanova tells reporters that Azov activists “kept us in the bunker” for two months and did not allow his family to leave using the humanitarian corridors established by Russian troops.
“They hid behind the fact that they are supposedly concerned about our safety,” Usmanova said, according to a German translation, adding that her family was repeatedly shouted at “Go back to the bunker!”
“Ukraine is dead to me as a state” Usmanova said at the end of her testimony.
Der Spiegel said it obtained the video from Reuters and it has been temporarily removed “due to discrepancies in content that were subsequently discovered.” Asked to elaborate on the discrepancies alleged by RIA Novosti, Der Spiegel said they were “still clarifying this issue.”
The video released by Reuters is only a minute long, however, and Usmanova talks about the intensity of the artillery fire and the difficult life inside the bunker. Both videos come from the same interview with multiple news outlets – including RIA Novosti, which confirmed the authenticity of Usmanova’s remarks in the now-deleted Spiegel clip.
Instead of the video, the German magazine now features a photo of Usmanova on a bus with other civilians, taken by a RIA Novosti photographer on May 1.
Usmanova’s testimony directly contradicts claims by Azov activists and the Kyiv government that Russia is preventing the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal complex. Moscow has repeatedly opened humanitarian corridors from the region. The UN announced that 500 other civilians were evacuated from the factory overnight from Thursday to Friday.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the republics from the Donbass of Donetsk and Lugansk. The protocols negotiated by Germany and France were designed to give breakaway regions a special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it planned to retake the two republics by force.
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