Filmmaker Killed in Russian Attack

( A friend of the Lithuanian filmmaker believed to have been killed in a missile strike on Saturday is claiming that he was shot dead by Russian troops holding him prisoner.

The Ukraine Defense Ministry reported on Sunday that documentary filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravicius, 45, was killed Saturday while trying to make his way out of the besieged coastal city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.

But according to a personal friend, Kvedaravicius was not killed by a missile strike hitting his car. He was shot while in the custody of Russian forces.

The filmmaker’s friend, Albina Lvutina claimed in a post on Facebook that “soulless” Russian forces took Kvedaravicius prisoner, then shot him and left his body on the ground. Lvutina claimed that the truth of his death was kept secret to allow his wife to retrieve his body from the Russian-controlled area.

Lvutina’s claims on how Kvedaravicius was killed have not been confirmed.

The only thing certain is that Mantas Kvedaravicius was killed on Saturday in Mariupol.

Kvedaravicius is best known for his 2016 conflict-zone documentary “Mariupolis” which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The film offers a portrait of Mariupol where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.

A strategic port in the largely Russian-speaking part of eastern Ukraine, Mariupol became a strategic target for Russian forces when the invasion began on February 24. The city was besieged for weeks, with tens of thousands of people trapped with little access to food or water. Now, Mariupol has been bombed into ruins.

On hearing the news of Kvedaravicius’ death in Mariupol, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda praised his courage for remaining in Russia-occupied Ukraine “until the very last moment” to document the war “in spite of the danger.”

Amnesty International awarded Kvedaravicius’ film “Barzakh” a prize at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival. The film is shot in the Russian region of Chechnya where Russian forces fought two wars to put down rebellions between 1994 and 2009.