KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — A celebrated Ukrainian medic recorded her time in Mariupol on a knowledge card no larger than a thumbnail, smuggled out to the world in a tampon. Now, she is in Russian palms, and Mariupol itself is on the verge of falling.

Yuliia Paievska, who as medic glided by Taira, used a physique digital camera to document 256 gigabytes of footage on her group’s frantic efforts over two weeks to carry folks again from the brink of demise. She acquired the harrowing clips to an Related Press group, the last international journalists within the Ukrainian metropolis of Mariupol, as they left in a rare humanitarian convoy.

Russian troopers captured Taira and her driver the subsequent day, March 16, one of many many compelled disappearances in areas of Ukraine now held by Russia. Russia has portrayed Taira as working for the nationalist Azov Battalion, in line with Moscow’s narrative that it’s trying to “denazify” Ukraine. However the AP discovered no such proof, and associates and colleagues stated she had no hyperlinks to Azov.

The army hospital the place she led evacuations of the wounded is just not affiliated with Azov. And the video she recorded showes Taira attempting to save lots of wounded Russian troopers together with Ukrainian civilians.

A March 10 clip exhibits two Russian troopers are taken roughly out of an ambulance by a Ukrainian soldier. One is in a wheelchair. The opposite is on his knees, palms certain behind his again, with an apparent leg harm.

A Ukrainian soldier curses at one in all them. “Settle down, relax,” Taira tells him.

A lady asks her, “Are you going to deal with the Russians?”

“They won’t be as type to us,” she replies. “However I couldn’t do in any other case. They’re prisoners of conflict.”

Yuliia Paievska, often called Taira, seems to be within the mirror and turns off her digital camera in Mariupol, Ukraine on Feb. 27, 2022. Utilizing a physique digital camera, she recorded her group’s frantic efforts to carry folks again from the brink of demise.

Yuliia Paievska by way of Related Press

Taira, 53, is now a prisoner of the Russians, like a whole lot of native officers, journalists and different outstanding Ukrainians who’ve been kidnapped or captured. The U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has recorded 204 instances of enforced disappearances, saying that some victims could have been tortured and 5 have been later discovered useless.

The Russians have targeted medics and hospitals though the Geneva Conventions single out army and civilian medics for cover “in all circumstance.” Russian troopers accused a girl in a convoy from Mariupol on Might 8 of being a army medic and compelled her to decide on between letting her 4-year-old daughter accompany her to an unknown destiny or persevering with on to Ukrainian-controlled territory. The mom and little one ended up separated.

Taira’s scenario and what it reveals in regards to the Russia’s remedy of Ukrainian prisoners tackle new significance as Mariupol’s final defenders are dropped at Russian-held areas. Russia says greater than 1,700 Ukrainian fighters holed up at a metal mill surrendered this week, whereas Ukrainian officers stated the fighters came out after carrying out their mission.

Ukraine’s authorities says it tried so as to add Taira’s title to a prisoner trade weeks in the past. However Russia denies holding her, regardless of her look on tv networks within the separatist Donetsk area of Ukraine and on the Russian NTV community, handcuffed and along with her face bruised.

Taira is thought in Ukraine as a star athlete as effectively the one who skilled the nation’s volunteer medic drive. The video she took from Feb. 6 to March 10 offers an intimate document of a metropolis beneath siege that has since turn out to be a worldwide image of the Russian invasion and Ukrainian resistance.

On Feb. 24, the primary day of the conflict, Taira chronicled efforts to bandage a Ukrainian soldier’s open head wound.

Two days later, she ordered colleagues to wrap a wounded Russian soldier in a blanket. She calls the younger man “Sunshine” — a favourite nickname for the numerous troopers who handed via her palms — and asks why he got here to Ukraine.

“You’re caring for me,” he tells her, virtually in marvel. Her response: “We deal with everybody equally.”

Later that evening, two kids — a brother and sister — arrive gravely wounded from a checkpoint shootout. Their dad and mom are useless. By the tip of the evening, regardless of Taira’s entreaties to “stick with me, toddler,” so is the little boy.

Taira turns away from his lifeless physique and cries. “I hate (this),” she says.

All through the video, she complains about continual ache from again and hip accidents. She cracks jokes. And at all times, she wears a stuffed animal connected to her vest handy to any kids she may deal with.

On March 15, a police officer handed the small knowledge card to a group of Related Press journalists. Taira requested the journalists over a walkie-talkie to get the cardboard safely out of Mariupol. The cardboard was hidden inside a tampon because the journalists handed via 15 Russian checkpoints.

The subsequent day, Taira disappeared along with her driver Serhiy.

A video aired on a March 21 Russian information broadcast introduced her seize. In it, she seems to be groggy and haggard as she reads a press release calling for an finish to the combating. As she speaks, a voiceover derides her colleagues as Nazis.

With a husband and teenage daughter, Taira knew what conflict can do to a household. At one level, an injured Ukrainian soldier requested her to name his mom, and she or he informed him he would be capable to name himself, “so don’t make her nervous.”

Taira’s husband, Vadim Puzanov, stated he has obtained little information since his spouse’s disappearance.

“Accusing a volunteer medic of all mortal sins, together with organ trafficking, is already outrageous propaganda — I don’t even know who it’s for,” he stated.

Taira was a part of the Invictus Games for Ukraine. She obtained the physique digital camera final yr to movie for a Netflix documentary collection on inspirational figures being produced by Britain’s Prince Harry, who based the Invictus Video games.

As a substitute, she filmed conflict footage. Within the final video Taira shot, she is seated subsequent to the driving force who would disappear along with her. It’s March 9.

“Two weeks of conflict. Besieged Mariupol,” she says quietly. Then she curses at nobody specifically, and the display goes darkish.

Related Press author Sarah El Deeb contributed from Beirut; Inna Varenytsia from Kyiv; Mstyslav Chernov from Kharkiv; Erika Kinetz from Brussels; and Elena Becatoros in Zaporizhzhia. Lori Hinnant reported from Paris.