An Irishman who travelled to Kyiv was left fearing for his life after he was held at gunpoint.
The man, aged in his late 30s, managed to leave the besieged Ukrainian capital yesterday after almost two weeks in the city where he has been live-streaming his journey.
He describes himself as a “citizen journalist”, and is an anti-vaccine campaigner and committed anti-establishment protester, who broadcasts under a pseudonym on YouTube.
In footage posted online, he asked passers-by if they believed in the threat of a Russian invasion or thought it was “scaremongering” by the Western media.
The Mayo man’s family members were unaware he had travelled to Ukraine until contacted by the Irish Independent.
There were significant fears for his safety after he was held at gunpoint on Saturday night.
In a bid to prove to commenters 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 an interview with an alternative YouTube channel, the Mayo man said he feared he would die when confronted by a man with a gun.
“I see this big, big guy in plain clothes pointing what looked like a Glock (pistol),” he said.
“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’. The word for journalist is kind of the same in Ukrainian, so they got that.
“Then they wanted my documents... I was pointing at my pockets. So eventually, they opened my jacket and checked the Irish passport.
“At this time, 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.”
He later added: “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 explained he travelled to Kyiv as he managed to secure a £20 one-way Ryanair flight from London days before commercial flights to Ukraine ceased.
He explained he wished to report on issues important to him, such as anti-vaccine rallies outside of the UK.