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‘For a split second, I thought he was going to assassinate me’ – Mayo man on Kyiv streets after curfew warning

Mayo man was live-streaming from Kyiv streets when approached by Ukrainian officials

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A view shows destroyed military vehicles on a street, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Bucha in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 1, 2022. Picture taken March 1, 2022. REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko

A view shows destroyed military vehicles on a street, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Bucha in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 1, 2022. Picture taken March 1, 2022. REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko

A view shows destroyed military vehicles on a street, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Bucha in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 1, 2022. Picture taken March 1, 2022. REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko

After breaking a military curfew, an Irish anti-vaccine protester held at gunpoint in Kyiv escaped the besieged Ukrainian capital after frantic efforts to board a train on Tuesday.

The Mayo man, aged in his late 30s, is a committed anti-establishment protestor who broadcasts under a pseudonym on Youtube.

He is the brother of a senior garda and comes from a highly respected family.

It's understood he travelled to Ukraine on February 16 and began live-streaming his journey through the streets of Kyiv.

He streamed interviews with passersby, asking several if they believed in the threat of a Russian invasion or if they thought it was "scaremongering" by the Western media.

The man's family members were unaware he travelled to Ukraine until contacted by the Irish Independent.

The Mayo native, a delivery driver in London who does not wish to be named, describes himself as a "citizen journalist" and has voiced strong opinions against the media.

He has previously chased and filmed high profile British journalists outside the houses of parliament in London.

There were significant fears for his safety after being held at gunpoint on Saturday night.

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In a bid to prove to followers on Youtube who questioned if he was really in Ukraine, he left his hostel in central Kyiv while the city was under a strict military curfew.

In live-streamed footage, since deleted, the Mayo man was stopped, interrogated and searched by two Ukrainian armed officials.

In an interview with an alternative Youtube news channel, the Mayo man said he feared he would die.

"I knew there was a curfew in place. I was standing outside the hostel.

"There was gunfire in the air. It sounded like there was a fighter jet somewhere.

"Some people in the chat were saying you are not in Ukraine, so I stupidly said I am going to run down here where there was a Ukrainian flag.

"There was a building nearby where I could have got a view of the skyline better.

"I had my phone on a stand, and I was scanning the sky looking for some kind of gunfire, and next thing I just hear some guy shout, I don't know what language.

"I see this big, big guy in plain clothes pointing what looked like a Glock (pistol).

"I knew just to get down on my knees and put my hands in the air and show that I have no weapon. I just said, "Journalist, journalist".

"My documents and my Irish passport were in my left pocket.

"I didn't even want to put my hand in my pocket without them understanding I was going to show them my passport in case they could have thought I had a weapon.

"I was pointing at my pockets. So eventually, they opened my jacket and checked the Irish passport.

"One guy had the gun pointed at me all the time, right at my head.

"He opens the passport, and he says 'Irlande', he goes into the office then and does some checks.

"The other guy just stands there, and I am on my knees with my hands in the air.

"For a split second, I thought this guy is going to assassinate me.

"The other guy came out then, and they told me to pick my phone up.

"I used google translate to say 'I go now; I go to bomb shelter (sic)'.

"His mate came out then and dropped a box of ammunition on the ground and said, 'Take your ammunition.'

"I took that as a hint.

"They just said 'Go'."

As he ran away, he said he feared he would be shot in the back.

"When they jumped out, I thought that was it I was gone. Trust me; when I was down on my knees, I was praying.

"I should be thanking those two guys for not killing me. To be honest, looking back now, it was ridiculously stupid. I got complacent. It was silly."

During the interview, the Mayo man said he travelled to Kyiv after securing a £20 one way Ryanair flight from London days before commercial flights to Ukraine ceased.

He explained his reason for travelling to Ukraine was because he wished to report on issues important to him, like anti-vaccine rallies, outside of the UK.

He had considered travelling to Paris but feared needing a vaccine certificate.

He also said the flight to Kyiv was cheaper than the train to Paris.

The Mayo man stayed in a hostel surrounded by government buildings in the centre of Kyiv and was due to check out on Saturday.

As events unfolded over the weekend, he appeared to grow increasingly despondent, telling his subscribers on Youtube he feared he had missed his chance to flee the city.

He awoke on Tuesday morning to discover the entire hostel he was staying in had been abandoned.

“They even took the teabags," he said.

In reply to messages from subscribers who urged him to leave Kyiv immediately or go to a bomb shelter, he said he had tried to do both throughout Monday.

One poster said: "What are you still doing there? The window for getting on a train is narrowing. At best, you can get Lviv. From there you have to walk the last 40 miles to Poland as they are only letting women and children on trains in Lviv.”

He replied at 7 am Ukrainian time: "I was in the train station for four hours.

"Every time a train pulls up, there is mayhem; it fills up.

"I went to a bomb shelter but will try and get out today as soon as curfew ends at 8 am."

The Irish Independent was later able to confirm with the Mayo man he had managed to get on a train to Lviv.

He said he had contacted the Irish embassy, who could not provide him with assistance.

However, he found the British embassy "very helpful."

"They sent a Ukrainian connection out to help me. He's fluent in English; he booked me a bus to Poland."

He described the situation in Lviv for those attempting to flee Ukraine as "like a Christmas market" with "free food and coffee."

He said he also witnessed disturbing scenes at the train station with fathers waving goodbye to wives and children.


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