The violent, chaotic situation in Ukraine is, like so many others in recent years, playing out in social media. Those of us abroad following the events can now watch on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as the EuroMaidan protests continue, and the body count racks up.
It's a luxury to be able to do so, but it's still a strange feeling seeing the violence play out online, and it can sometimes take something to jolt you into realizing that this is real life. Today, it seems like many observers got that jolt with the following tweet:
Я вмираю— Olesya Zhukovskaya (@OlesyaZhukovska) February 20, 2014
The tweet was sent by Olesya Zhukovskaya, a medic and protester in Kyiv, a few hours ago. The tweet, written in Ukrainian, reads "I am dying." Olesya also apparently posted the message to her VKontakte page, and both posts have been widely shared.
According to the EuroMaidan Twitter feed, Zhukovskaya is 21 years old. The account tweeted this picture of her, wearing her medical uniform.
Another picture tweeted appears to show Zhukovskaya, wearing a white top with a prominent red cross, clutching her neck, which is bleeding:
Paramedic volunteer shot in the neck whites on social network "I'm dying". pic.twitter.com/0yhKuJ3EvH— Bogdan Ovcharuk (@goddan) February 20, 2014
While there were earlier reports that Zhukovskaya had died, the latest news from Kiev appears to show she has survived surgery. Opposition activists are saying that she was shot by a government sniper, a worrying part of the escalation in violence we're seeing today.
Of course, not everything on social media should be taken at face value, but a lot of journalists and activists are taking this very seriously. Whatever happened, the truth is that this tweet shows how very real the stakes are in Ukraine right now.