STRINGER / AFP
Nearly 600 people died in the bombing of the Mariupol theater in March 2022, according to an Associated Press investigation.
WAR IN UKRAINE – The bombardment of the municipal theater of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in March, where hundreds of civilians, including women and children, had taken refuge to escape Russian strikes, shocked the international community. Nine months later, the port city is in the hands of the Russianswho would like to destroy this place emblematic of the conflict to hide the evidence of a possible ” war crime “according to the Ukrainian mayor of the city, Petro Andryushchenko, quoted by the BBC.
According to the chosen one, the destruction of the theater has begun. The Russians are reportedly planning to leave the facade of the building intact, while destroying the rest of the structure, to build a new theater “on the bones of the people of Mariupol”. An initiative that is part of a large reconstruction project of the city by the Russian authorities, who communicate extensively on this work.
Photos and videos have been shared on social media, including by Ukrainian Culture Minister Tkachenko Oleksandr (below) showing the ruins of the theater hidden behind huge screens, as well as an excavator destroying the remaining walls standing.
1/2 First, they tried to cover it, but now the invaders razed to the ground evidence of one of the most revealing c…
— Maria Drutska 🇺🇦 (@maria_drutska)
“First they tried to cover her up. Now the invaders are razing the evidence of one of the most telling crimes of the Russian terrorist army: in Mariupol, the theater was demolished. »
Drama Theater in Mariupol does no longer exist. This is attempt to hide forever the evidence of the deliberate kill…
— Tkachenko Oleksandr (@otkachenkoua)
“The Mariupol theater no longer exists. This is an attempt to hide forever the evidence of the deliberate killing of Ukrainians by the Russians. The aggressor country does not even try to hide its desire to erase everything. No lie can escape justice. »
At the time of its bombardment, the Mariupol theater housed “more than 1,000 civilians”, according to the Ukrainian authorities. They estimate 300 people were killed, but an Associated Press investigation found the true number was closer to 600.
The theater has never been a valid military objective”
The NGOs which investigated the strike, like Amnesty International, are categorical: it was indeed a ” war crime “. Word ” children “ written in Russian outside the building was indeed perfectly visible from the skyand Amnesty International considers that theater has never been a valid military objective. Russia had rejected these accusations outright and claimed that the theater had been attacked by the Ukrainian nationalist Azov battalion.
Since the Donetsk region fell to the separatists, gigantic privacy screens illustrated by Russian cultural figures hide the Mariupol theater from the eyes of the curious. In November, the BBC reported that authorities had quietly extracted corpses from destroyed buildings in the city. According to satellite images consulted by the Associated Press, 10,300 additional graves have also been dug in the municipal cemetery.
Since its annexation in September, the city of Mariupol has undergone a forced march to Russification. The authorities have built a few blocks of buildings, the images of which are broadcast tirelessly on social networks and taken up by state television talk shows. Some influencers won over to the Kremlin’s cause depict a newfound joy in the city since the arrival of the Russians.
However, this would only be a decoy according to the Ukrainian authorities, who depict a devastated city behind the curtains of construction sites. More than 50% of Mariupol’s housing was destroyed by Russian strikes during the city’s long siege, and civilian infrastructure is said to be nearly 90% destroyed, according to Kyiv.
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