The Wrong Place is a documentary investigating the death of Italian photographer Andrea Rocchelli and Russian journalist and interpreter Andrei Mironov on May 24, 2014 near then-occupied Sloviansk, Ukraine and the subsequent arrest and controversial trial of Ukrainian National Guardsman Vitaly Markiv.
For over a year, a group of dedicated journalists from Italy and Ukraine – Cristiano Tinazzi, Olga Tokariuk, Danilo Elia and Ruben Lagattolla – have been conducting extensive field research, on-site geographical analyses, interviews with new witnesses and experts, and shooting tests.
The Wrong Place (“Не в тому місці, не в той час”) is scheduled to premiere in autumn of 2020.
On September 29, the Milan court will consider the appeal in the case of Ukrainian soldier Vitaliy Markiv. The appeal hearing was scheduled to begin in the spring of 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficult health situation in Italy, it was postponed until the fall.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba voiced the Ukrainian government’s strong support for Vitaliy and recently called on international human rights organizations to closely monitor the upcoming trial.
“… We consider the accusations against Vitaliy Markiv to be unfounded. We respect the Italian judicial system, but we clearly express our hope that the decision regarding Vitaliy will be fair and impartial, devoid of any emotions and incorrect interpretation of the facts.
I invite all international human rights organizations to monitor this trial to prevent possible violations or incorrect interpretation of the facts related to the case, and record possible acts of pressure on the court to confirm the conviction.
I hope that international human rights activists will hear our appeal, join this appeal hearing, and that finally, we will hear an objective verdict giving Vitaliy the freedom he deserves!”
On August 28, Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov was allowed to conduct a 15-minute video interview with the imprisoned soldier. He assured Vitaliy that he would hold an important press briefing on Monday, August 29, whereby new evidence and photos obtained by the Ukrainian National Police during their on-site investigation would be presented to the media and the general public. The Minister underlined that the results of the police investigation and the conclusions of the examinations clearly prove Markiv’s innocence, and that Ukraine is ready to provide this conclusive material to Italian law enforcement officers.
Vitaliy Markiv thanked the Minister and pointed out that his case is highly politicized and directed not only against himself, but also against Ukraine in order to promote Russian interests.
“I am a soldier of the National Guard, and I clearly understand that I swore to serve and defend the Motherland. I’m ready for anything. But, it’s a matter of honour to prove my innocence… to defend the honour and dignity of my unit and the National Guard of Ukraine
This case is aimed at disgracing me and Ukraine and lobbying the interests of the Russian Federation. They will certainly try to use my conviction as a precedent for lifting sanctions on Russia.
I have always been, am and will be a Ukrainian soldier.Ukraine has given me more than I expected.
I’ve been behind bars for four years, and they still haven’t allowed me to receive a Ukrainian flag. The only thing I was allowed was a T-shirt emblazoned with the Kulchytsky Battalion. I also have a tiny Ukrainian flag, the kind you see on dashboards in cars. It’s in my cell. But even if I wasn’t allowed a real flag, everyone here understands perfectly well who I am and why I’m here.”
The Markiv Case
- Deputy platoon commander of the Ukrainian National Guard’s First Battalion, senior sergeant Vitaliy Markiv was arrested in Italy on June 30, 2017, and charged with complicity in the killing of Italian journalist Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian interpreter Andrei Mironov during a mortar attack at Mount Karachun, near then-occupied Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast on May 24, 2014.
- According to the Ukrainian investigation team, the two journalists were killed during heavy shelling by Russian mercenaries.
- Ukrainian National Guard officials pointed out that in 2014, the Ukrainian battalion deployed on Mount Karachun was not armed with mortar systems.
- On July 12, 2019, the Pavia court sentenced Ukrainian National Guardsman Vitaliy Markiv to 24 years in prison. He must also pay compensation to Rocchelli’s family.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office to immediately address the issue of Markiv’s imprisonment and his return to Ukraine.
- Markiv’s lawyers immediately filed an appeal against the verdict pronounced by the Pavia court. On November 20, 2019, defense attorneys representing the interests of Ukraine and authorized by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine also filed a statement of appeal against the decision of the Pavia court.
- The appeal hearing was scheduled in the Milan Court of Appeals in the spring of 2020.
- On March 10, 2020, due to the spread of COVID-19, the court of appeals in Milan postponed the hearing of the case.
- The Milan Court of Appeals will review the case against Ukrainian soldier Vitaliy Markiv on September 29, 2020.