Ukraine shelled a hotel in the southern Russian-controlled city of Kherson, where an RT news crew was staying, early on Sunday morning. A former Ukrainian politician and another person were killed in the attack.
The missile destroyed the rooms where RT correspondent Murad Gazdiev and cameraman Mikhail Kondakov were sleeping. Both are unharmed.
The latter was buried under rubble but was pulled out shortly after the strike.
“It’s like I’ve been electrocuted, I’m shaking,” Kondakov said after the rescue, surrounded by debris and pointing to a hole in the wall near where his bed was. “I was sleeping here, and it’s where the [missile] has struck. I don’t know how I survived.”
The hotel was heavily damaged, and the roof collapsed. Several vehicles parked outside were also destroyed, including a car used by RT, Gazdiev said. He added that, apart from the four-person RT team, three migration center workers and two hotel staff members were inside the building during the strike.
“The [Russian] military left this place yesterday. Maybe the strike was planned to hit them,” Gazdiev said, adding that everyone is afraid of a second strike.
Local emergency services said two people were killed. Senior Russian-appointed official Kirill Stremousov confirmed that Aleksey Zhuravko, a former member of Ukraine’s parliament, is one of the victims. Zhuravko had posted a video of himself voting for Kherson Region to join Russia in the ongoing referendum.
Kherson officials called the strike “a premeditated terrorist act,” and accused Ukraine of using US-supplied M142 HIMARS multiple rocket launchers to shell the hotel.
Ukrainian Major General Vadim Skibitsky told the Daily Telegraph last month that Kiev’s intelligence officials consult with their US counterparts before launching missiles, but denied that the US provides direct targeting information.
Kherson Region and large parts of neighboring Zaporozhye Region are holding five-day referendums on joining Russia. The first results are expected to be released by Wednesday. The territories were seized by Russian forces after Moscow launched its military operation in the neighboring country on February 24.
The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) are also holding referendums on becoming part of Russia. The republics broke away from Ukraine following the 2014 coup in Kiev. Russia recognized them as independent states in February.