VILNIUS (Reuters) -Lithuanian film director Mantas Kvedaravicius was killed on Saturday in Mariupol, the Ukrainian city whose fate he had documented for many years, according to the Ukrainian Defence Ministry and a colleague.
“While (he was) trying to leave Mariupol, Russian occupiers killed Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius,” the ministry’s information agency tweeted https://twitter.com/armyinformcomua/status/1510400551019859972 on Sunday.
Reuters could not immediately verify the report.
“We lost a creator well known in Lithuania and in the whole world who, until the very last moment, in spite of danger, worked in Russia-occupied Ukraine,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said.
Kvedaravicius, 45, was best known for his conflict-zone documentary “Mariupolis”, which premiered at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival.
The film paints a portrait of Mariupol, a strategic port in a largely Russian-speaking part of eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.
The city was a main target of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Now bombed into ruins, it has been besieged for weeks, with tens of thousands trapped with little access to food and water.
“Mantas Kvedaravicius, was murdered today in Mariupol, with a camera in his hands, in this shitty war of evil, against the whole world,” Russian film director Vitaly Mansky, founder of the Artdocfest arts festival in which Kvedaravicius was a participant, said on Facebook.
Amnesty International had awarded Kvedaravicius’s 2011 film “Barzakh”, shot in the Russian region of Chechnya, where Russian forces fought two wars to put down rebellions between 1994 and 2009, a prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.
“The audience was taken into the villages, into the lives and souls of the people,” said Julia Duchrow, deputy secretary general of Amnesty International in Germany.
“Mantas Kvedaravicius has shown great courage for this: The film was shot without permission and at great personal risk.
“This courage, this unconditional will to show human rights violations and make them accessible to the public, distinguished Mantas Kvedaravicius.”
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by William Mallard, Raissa Kasolowsky and Kevin Liffey)