Russian troops shelled the center of Chernihiv, a city north of Kiev, on Saturday. Seven people died, including a six-year-old girl. More than 100 people, including children, were injured. The shell hit the theater building. “This is what it means to live next to a terrorist state. We unite the whole world against it,” President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is visiting Sweden, tweeted. “Russia has turned an ordinary Saturday into a day of pain and loss,” he added.
Russia shelled the center of Chernihiv on Saturday. The missile hit the building of the drama theater, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said. In the first announcements, the ministry reported five dead and 37 injured, including 11 children. In the hours that followed, however, the number of casualties varied. According to the latest information, seven people died, including a six-year-old girl.
Her mother is in a serious condition in the hospital, Ihor Klymenko, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said in a live broadcast on Suspilne TV.
About 110 people were injured, the BBC reported, citing Ukrainian officials. Of these, 25 people were hospitalized. Among the injured are children. The 12-year-old girl is in a serious condition and was taken by ambulance to Kiev.
The shell hit the theater building
The shell hit the theater building, but also damaged the surrounding buildings. Minister Klymenko said that the shell fell in the center of the city, where there is a theater (called the house of culture by the minister), a city square and cafes. People came there to spend their free time, also with children. After the air-raid alert was announced, people went down to a shelter in one of the buildings, and only because of this, even more casualties were avoided, he reported.
Oleksandr Lomako, the acting mayor of Cherhnihiv, informed journalists that a three-day mourning period would be in force in the city from Saturday.
Zelensky: Russia has turned an ordinary Saturday into a day of pain and loss
The information about the attack was commented on Twitter by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is on a visit to Sweden that day.
“This is what it means to live next to a terrorist state. We unite the whole world against it,” he wrote. “Russia has turned an ordinary Saturday into a day of pain and loss. There are victims. My condolences to all who have lost a loved one,” he added. “I call on the world to stand up to Russian terror,” he appealed.
“I am very concerned about the news of another Russian shelling,” said Denise Brown, the UN’s humanitarian aid coordinator in Ukraine.
“It is inhumane to attack the main square of a big city in the morning when people are going for a walk, some are going to church,” she added. Brown condemned the “repeated pattern of Russian airstrikes” in populated areas of Ukraine, which are causing “death, massive destruction and a surge in humanitarian needs.”
“Attacks against civilians or civilian objects are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law,” she said. She said “this has to stop”.
Organizer of the exhibition in the theater: the event was agreed with the authorities
The UNIAN agency reported that a drone exhibition was taking place in the theater building at the time of the attack. Its opening was previously reported without giving the exact address. It was made public a few hours before the start of the event.
The event devoted to military technologies was organized by the Air Reconnaissance Support Center and the Invisible Battalion project, both of which are led by Maria Berlinska. The organizer wrote on Facebook that the event was “not a business exhibition, but a closed meeting of engineers, military and volunteers on military technologies for the front”.
“The event was previously agreed officially with the local authorities” – she assured. She wrote that the address of the event was only provided to “registered and verified participants” a few hours before the opening. “All participants were checked by the police at the entrance,” she added. She informed that the organizers are currently in contact with the Security Service of Ukraine and provide it with the necessary data.
Berlinska stated that she was commenting on the case “in order to avoid manipulation”, referring to the entries of “some bloggers”. The Ukrinform agency explained that some of them claimed that the rocket fire was related to the “drone exhibition”, which had been publicly announced earlier.
Chernihiv has been the target of the aggressor since the first days of the invasion
Chernihiv, located 140 km from Kiev, opening the way to the Ukrainian capital from the north, was one of the most heavily shelled major cities in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion. From the first days, the Russians tried to surround it and take it, but they were stopped in the early spring of 2022 on the north-eastern outskirts of the city.
Main photo source: PAP/Vladyslav Musienko