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Symbol of Ukraine's uprising emerges from a tweet

By Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
updated 1:19 PM EST, Sat February 22, 2014
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

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