Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

A protester throws a tire on a fire separating protesters and riot police in Grushevsky Street in downtown Kiev, Ukraine

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A woman pleads with the riot police not to attack the protesters in downtown Kiev.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Opposition protesters rest behind barricades in central Kiev.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Protesters clash with police in central Kiev on Feb. 20, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Exhausted riot police sleep on the sidewalk in central Kiev after clashes with protesters in Independence Square.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Funeral service for Gorlovka Councilman Volodymyr Rybak, who is mourned by his widow Yelena, second from left. Their daughter comforts her mother at the graveside.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Julia Tymoshenko addresses thousands of people in Independence Square in Kiev on the day she was released from prison after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A priest blesses protesters in front of riot police in Grushevsky Street in downtown Kiev.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A pro-Russia rally in Donetsk.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Ukraine security forces' checkpoint outside Slovyansk.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Newlyweds come out of a registration hall in the center of Mariupol.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Ukrainian forces take a break at a base near Slovyansk.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Ukraine forces with an armored personnel carrier rest in a sunflower field near Slovyansk.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Ukrainian soldier Ivan Kuryata during a firefight with opposition forces in the village of Peski on the outskirts of Donetsk. Kuryata was killed Oct. 8 during a mortar shelling in Peski.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Ukrainian troops take cover during a mortar attack at Donetsk airport, the scene of fierce fighting between government troops and pro-Russia separatists since May.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A Ukraine soldier on patrol at Donetsk airport. The airport has been the scene of fierce fighting since May.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Ukraine soldiers have a meal inside a terminal at Donetsk airport.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A Ukrainian army officer gives orders to his troops amid a shootout with pro-Russia separatists inside Donetsk airport.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Ukrainian troops in a shootout with pro-Russia separatists inside Donetsk airport.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A Ukraine soldier carries grenade launchers brought by a supply convoy amid a shootout with pro-Russia separatists.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A formation of riot police seen through the remains of a burnt police bus in Grushevsky Street in downtown Kiev Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Protesters take a police officer prisoner during violent clashes Thursday morning, February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Protesters clash with police in central Kiev Thursday morning, February 20, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

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Photographer’s notebook | The unfolding crisis in Ukraine

It was supposed to be a short assignment. After all, European countries in the 21st century may sometimes be gripped by protests, and some protests may even turn violent. But they don’t usually descend into open warfare.

Since my trip to Kiev, Ukraine, in November 2013 to cover protests against then-President Viktor Yanukovich, the Ukraine story has swept me along in deaths and near misses; tales of sacrifice, sadness and bravery.

On Feb. 20, protesters burned tires and threw firebombs at police, who fought back with clubs and shields, and then live ammunition. Unable to put down the protests, Yanukovich fled the capital.

The next day, the Los Angeles Times carried my front-page image of one protester’s father standing in the morgue, holding the bloodied helmet his son had painted blue in hopes it would look like U.N. gear.

From there, events moved quickly. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and fighting began in eastern Ukraine.

In Slovyansk months later, pro-Russia separatists were looking for me. As gunmen were entering the front door of the hotel where I was hiding, I jumped out a second-floor window in back. A Russian television reporter drove me through several checkpoints and dropped me in no-man’s land.

Ukrainian soldiers fired a couple of warning shots over my head, but then lifted me to my feet and welcomed me.

In early October near the industrial city of Donetsk, I captured an image of machine-gunner Ivan Kuryata repelling a separatist attack, a cigarette jammed in his mouth and his left index finger bandaged. His wife found out from my Facebook page that he had been killed.

“I doooooooooooooon’t belieeeeeeeve it!” she wrote. My heat sank. I felt as if it were I who had killed her husband.

Two weeks later I became the first non-Ukrainian correspondent to reach the Donetsk airport, where for five months outnumbered Ukrainian soldiers had been battling rebels armed with tanks, artillery and missiles supplied by Russia.

I spent four days and three nights among the “cyborgs,” a label given them by their enemies because of their valor and ability to defend positions where every inch was exposed to hostile fire.

On my last day, two soldiers exposed themselves to fire from all sides to retrieve a charred body part of a tank crew member from the tarmac. They put the remains in an ammo box and tied it to an armored vehicle to take home for burial.

They didn’t know the man’s name or rank, but they refused to leave him behind.

When I got back to the relative safety of the terminal, one of the soldiers fished a hot three-inch piece of shrapnel out of my flak jacket.

1 Comment

  1. December 26, 2014, 11:34 am

    A world so different from my own and one I'll never know apart from these photos.

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