Skip to main content

Symbol of Ukraine's uprising emerges from a tweet

By Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
February 22, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "I'm dying," 21-year-old medic tweets
  • Olyesa Zhukovska was shot in the neck by a sniper
  • A weak voice, still defiant: "We are waiting for new elections"

Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) -- As violence raged on Thursday in central Kiev, 21-year-old volunteer medic Olyesa Zhukovska was providing first aid to wounded protesters when she was struck in the neck by a sniper's bullet.

"I'm dying," she tweeted as blood gushed from her throat.

Even as her prediction proved wrong, her tweet was immortalized as it ricocheted across the Internet.

Two days later, from a hospital bed, she recalled the moment when she was struck.

Police join protesters after deadly riot
Take a tour of Kiev's Independence Square

"I heard a loud bang," she told CNN. "At first, I thought it was a grenade, but then my friend said, 'You have been hit by a sniper; you are bleeding.' Both our hands were full of blood."

The bullet had pierced her neck, somehow missing vital vessels, but doing serious damage nonetheless.

"It is very hard for me to speak and it hurts to eat," she said weakly. "I'm starting to walk again; I lost a lot of blood."

At the time she was shot, Zhukovska was on a front line in the battle between opposition and security forces trying to help the wounded.

She was lucky. Dozens of other demonstrators who were defending the barricades in Independence Square were killed on Thursday, nearly a third of them by snipers.

The location had been transformed Saturday into a memorial.

At the hospital, Zhukovska's parents were by her side on Saturday, offering succor even as their daughter's spirit remained defiant.

"We are waiting for new elections," she said weakly. "We want a different president, a different government and a better situation in Ukraine."

Zhukovska said she was glad her tweet had reached so many people; her parents were glad it proved wrong.

CNN's Tom Watkins contributed to this story

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1258 GMT (2058 HKT)
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 broke apart in the air after it was hit by a burst of "high-energy objects" from outside, a preliminary report by Dutch aviation investigators said Tuesday.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
"There were many scenes that defied logic," writes OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw, who was one of the first international observers to arrive at the site.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
On a country road in eastern Ukraine, a scene of bucolic tranquility was suddenly interrupted by the aftermath of carnage.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 2019 GMT (0419 HKT)
In the city of Donetsk, the devastation wrought by weeks of fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces is all too apparent.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0000 GMT (0800 HKT)
CNN's Diana Magnay reports from the front lines in the Ukrainian conflict.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1126 GMT (1926 HKT)
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
It's been building for months. And now, according to some, Russia has launched a "full-scale invasion" of Ukraine.
August 23, 2014 -- Updated 1343 GMT (2143 HKT)
A shopkeeper's mutilated body, relatives' anguish, homes destroyed ... this is Donetsk.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1112 GMT (1912 HKT)
A 20-minute drive from Kiev takes you to a neighborhood that feels more like Beverly Hills than central Ukraine.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 1615 GMT (0015 HKT)
Photos illustrate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as fighting continues to flare in the region.
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1234 GMT (2034 HKT)
Western leaders stepped up sanctions, but the Russian President shows no sign of backing down.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
Future imports, exports between the EU and Russia are now banned -- but existing contracts continue.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 2037 GMT (0437 HKT)
Information about Ukraine, the second-largest European country in area after Russia.
Learn more about the victims, ongoing investigation and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
The downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 put the pro-Russia rebels operating in Ukraine's eastern region center stage.
ADVERTISEMENT