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Injured ZDF interpreter recalls the Kharkiv Palace hotel strike

16.01.2024, 16:13

Warning! The article features a photo that may be disturbing.

Svitlana Dolbysheva, the Ukrainian interpreter for the German TV channel ZDF who was injured in the Russian shelling strike on Kharkiv, was discharged from the hospital on January 10 and is recovering at home.

Svitlana spoke about this in her comment to the regional IMI representative.

She was diagnosed with a concussion, an open wound in the head, a lung contusion and hematoma, and fractured ribs.

Photo – Svitlana Dolbysheva

The interpreter says that the ZDF crew arrived at the Kharkiv Palace hotel a few hours before the attack. They were done with their work and were about to go out for dinner together. Svitlana was waiting for her colleagues in the lobby.

"The very layout of the hotel, in terms of architecture, seems particularly important to me now; I never thought about it that way before, but it's an atrium with 11 floors. And had just taken the elevator down, gone to the main entrance, looked around to see if my colleagues were anywhere nearby. I realized that I had come first, so I sat down on a chair by the piano to wait for them. I opened TikTok and read two poems by Vasyl Symonenko. And I think all this, all those movements, took about one minute. Because I remember that when I went outside, I saw that it was 18:58. I only remember individual images after that. That entire atrium crumbling down. Next thing is the floor," Svitlana Dolbysheva recalled.

Video by Svitlana Dolbysheva

After the impact, Svitlana managed to go down to the hotel's underground parking lot and find her colleagues.

"For the first 15 minutes I just lay in the underground parking lot. Then the doctors came to me, who had, I don't know, some kind of capsule tool kit, but they couldn't do anything for me. They said they were just triaging patients, so they called an ambulance because I couldn't move on my own. The pain was growing by the minute. And breathing was increasingly difficult. Later, I realized that the ambulance cars could not get through because of the debris scattered around the hotel. The first patients they took, the wounded, were those who could come out to them or who could be brought out to them. Our crew's driver went outside time and again and tried to catch an ambulance and somehow coordinate it, lead it down to this underground parking lot, so that I could be taken away on a stretcher," says Svitlana.

Next, Svitlana was taken to the Kharkiv Oblast Clinical Hospital for an initial examination, and then to Kyiv. On January 10, Svitlana was discharged from the hospital and is currently recovering at home. The interpreter says, "however my diagnosis may sound, for the doctors it is just a list of physical stuff, so to speak." "None of this is a threat to my life, everything should heal normally, and I will carry on with my life," she added.

Photo – Svitlana Dolbysheva

"The hardest thing now is to see that the attacks on the hotels continue and all the destruction and damage the people in the Park Hotel suffered, which in some sense is even worse, because that building is small and the missile hit the roof directly. Watching these videos is just very painful, everything inside me shivers," says Svitlana.

As the IMI reported, the Ukrainian interpreter for the German TV channel ZDF, Svitlana Dolbysheva, was injured in the Russian shelling strike on Kharkiv on December 30, 2023. At the time of the explosion, the channel's team was in the Kharkiv Palace Hotel, which was hit by a Russian missile. The interpreter was injured in the hall: her rib and three vertebrae were fractured. The British citizen working as a security advisor for the ZDF crew was also injured.

The police opened a case for violation of the laws and customs of war (Part 1 of Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).

The rocket strike on downtown Kharkiv also severely damaged the Radio House, where the offices of "Suspilne. Kharkiv" and Ukrainian Radio are located.

Journalist Davit Kachkachishvili and photographer Özge Elif Kızıl of the Turkish news agency Anadolu were injured by the Russian shelling strike of the Park Hotel in Kharkiv on January 10. The crew's car was destroyed as well. The Ukrainian fixer for the channel France 2, Violetta Pedorych, was also injured.

Volodymyr Tymoshko, the head of the Main Office of the National Police in the Kharkiv oblast, said that Russia had shelled the hotel in Kharkiv deliberately and that all the victims were civilians. He noted that the hotel was primarily used by international journalists.

"Soldiers have never stayed in this hotel, almost all of Kharkiv knows that. This hotel was used by journalists. It was a well-known fact. At the time of the attack, foreign journalists, namely from Turkiye, were staying in the hotel. This leads me to believe that the Russian Federation was targeting the mass media specifically," said Tymoshko.

IMI monitors Russia's crimes against the media and journalists in Ukraine. In the year and ten months since the start of the full-scale invasion, Russia has committed 548 crimes against journalists and media in Ukraine.

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