A photograph on Twitter apparently shows Yulia Paievska, better known as Tayra, looking thin after three months as a prisoner but smiling after being freed.
“We managed to liberate Tayra, Ukrainian paramedic Yulia Paievska, from captivity,” Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said. “We will keep working to liberate everyone.”
Vadim Puzanov, her husband, said: “It was such a great sense of relief. Those sound like such ordinary words, and I don’t even know what to say.” He added that he spoke by phone to his wife, who was en route to a Kyiv hospital, and feared for her health.
Ms Paievska (inset below) filmed her work in Mariupol during the first three weeks of the invasion with a head camera. Her footage showed helicopter pilots evacuating civilians and soldiers injured by shelling. In one scene, her camera captures the moment a small boy dies of his wounds. She closes his eyelids.
Ms Paievska (53) hid a data card with hundreds of hours of footage in a tampon and managed to smuggle it out of the city with a pair of fleeing AP photojournalists before she was captured in mid-March.
Russian artillery pounded Mariupol into rubble, destroying the city where 400,000 people had once lived. Its capture last month was celebrated by the Kremlin as one of its first war victories.
Even before the remarkable footage of her work in Mariupol appeared, Ms Paievska was a household name in Ukraine. She had been a paramedic through the Euromaidan revolution of 2014, which forced the pro-Kremlin president to flee, before moving to the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine where she set up units of paramedics.
These were called “Tayra’s Angels” and treated soldiers injured in battles with separatist fighters.
On Twitter, Ukrainians celebrated Ms Paievska’s release. “Relieved beyond relief,” said one user. “She is loved by many.”
The Ukrainian government has not said how it managed to free Ms Paievska but it is believed her name was put on a prisoner exchange list.
©Telegraph Media Group Ltd (2022)