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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Nurse shot in neck by sniper was 'certain she would die'

David Blair

Published 22/02/2014 | 02:30

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An anti-government protester takes cover from suspected sniper fire near the Hotel Ukraine in Kiev. Getty Images
An anti-government protester takes cover from suspected sniper fire near the Hotel Ukraine in Kiev. Getty Images

The bullet struck with such disorientating force that, for a few seconds, Oleysa Zhukovska inset, failed to grasp that she had been shot.

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Only when jets of blood poured on to her hands and a friend screamed with horror did the volunteer nurse realise what had happened. "And then I thought, 'Now I will die'," said the 21-year-old. "My friends took me to an ambulance very quickly. When I was in the ambulance, I was sure I will die."

So certain was she of her fate she used the mobile clutched in her hand to send out a final Twitter message to that effect.

Like dozens of other Ukrainians on Thursday, she had fallen prey to one of the snipers prowling Independence Square in Kiev. With infinite care and precision, this unknown marksman had taken aim beneath Ms Zhukovska's protective helmet and fired one round clean through her neck.

The distant killer had not been deterred by the white cape with red crosses worn by his chosen target. If anything, those vivid markers might have made Ms Zhukovska more conspicuous and so more vulnerable.

She was picked off beside Lyadski Gate, which commemorates the Angel Gabriel as "protector of Kiev".

Remarkably, the bullet missed her vital organs. Had it deviated in its path through her neck by centimetres, the round would have severed her jugular vein, spinal column or larynx.

As it turned out, she suffered little more than a flesh wound. In the words of Dr Nataliya Babiy, it was a "thousand-to-one chance".

And so she lies with a white bandage around her neck, but with every chance of achieving a full recovery. When that moment comes, she has no doubt about her next step. "I'll try to go back to the Maidan (Independence Square)," she said. "I understand my parents will be upset, but I'll do my best to get there."The clinical attack on protesters in the Maidan on Thursday claimed at least 29 lives. In the aftermath, the search for missing people has become more urgent and the sorrow and fury of those who lost friends is intense.

Camped

For the thousands who remain camped in the square, their decision to risk everything by their presence has been made even starker.

Ms Zhukovska first travelled to the Maidan in December, defying her parents by leaving the family home in the town of Kremenets, 200km west of Kiev. "At first, it wasn't so dangerous like it is now," she said. "I was doing everything: I was cooking and cleaning and then, from January, I became a volunteer for the medical services.

"For me, the most important thing is to support the people. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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