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Ukraine is fighting – civilians. They painted the inscription “CHILDREN” in front of the Mariupol theater

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Sergei and Zhenya survived the bombing of the Mariupol theater. They were at the epicenter at the time of the attack. Right on the stage on which Sergey performed for 19 years. Pinned down by a huge metal door. Thanks to the help of people, they got out of the ruins, and then, wounded and battered, they saved others. A day later, with their two children: son and daughter, they left Mariupol. Sergey tells us what happened in the theater in those days, he tells the story of the creation of the inscription “CHILDREN”, which was seen by the whole world, and which became a symbol of the Russian bestiality. Arleta Zalewska talks to Sergey as part of the “Ukraine Fighting-Civilians” series.

The six-minute video with the inscription “CHILDREN” was published by the soldiers of the Azov battalion. They took them on March 11, a few days before the bombing. Russian aggression on Ukraine it lasted three weeks then. The man who shows them around is Sergey. When they are outside, you can hear the explosions all the time in the background. In the middle: the crying of children is intertwined with the noise of the crowd and people’s conversations. It’s mostly very cold outside, inside it’s cold and rather dark. Sergey highlights the road with his phone.

People dressed in hats and jackets sit on the floor, they are separated into different rooms and rooms. – People come here for food. First, children, women and the elderly. And only then, if that’s enough, the men. At that moment, over 1,500 people have shelter in the theater, Sergey tells us.

When a few days later the recording becomes popular in almost all global media, we already know that the theater was bombed. We know they are killed – many are killed. We know that among the victims there are people who can be seen in this video. But there are also reports that there are people who managed to get out of the theater.

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The recording ends with a statement by Sergei and his friend. They both stand in front of the theater and beg for a humanitarian corridor for women and children. – There is a woman who just gave birth. Children have a fever. I don’t know how or who, but help me. We ask you!

Five days later, the Russians will bomb the theater. Nobody will organize a humanitarian corridor.

– I was absolutely convinced that this would protect us, that no one would dare to kill children. After all, these letters were so big. Everyone saw them – Sergey tells now, returning to the March events.

Recorded from the Mariupol theater before the Russian attackTVN24

The actor made another recording after the Russians attacked. You can see a burning and smoking theater. You can see parts of the “CHILDREN” inscription, but Sergey points out something else. – This is a theater where I have worked for 19 years. – says a voice from behind the phone and adds: – You can even see my portrait here.

There is still a poster on the wall of the theater advertising the performance in which Sergey plays the lead role. This is “My Moliere”.

This is how the actor says goodbye to his beloved theater. A day later, he leaves Mariupol with his family. It’s March 17. The city is already heavily bombed then. – We miraculously managed to leave. They attacked from all sides – he says.

A recording from the theater in Mariupol

A recording from the theater in MariupolTVN24

For many weeks I have been trying to reach out to someone who survived the bombing and wants to tell us this shocking story. I even managed to talk to one of the women who worked in the theater before the war. He and his daughter got out of the ruins, saved by the high and durable walls of the theater building.

However, it was not possible to talk, I know that they left Mariupol, but they spent all their time looking for other family members who were stuck somewhere in the town. The text published on the Ukrainian website entitled: “I was the commander of the shelter at the Mariupol Dramatic Theater” turned out to be of key importance for me. This is the story of Zenia, Sergey’s wife. That’s how I got to him.

– How do you look at that day today, what do you think, what do you feel? – I’m asking. Sergei replies that he does not know that this is the first time someone has asked him about it. After a while, he moves the camera away from him so that his face cannot be seen. After a long moment he answers. – Guilt, I feel guilty that so many people have died. That it was impossible to save them.

According to the Associated Press, the Russians could kill up to 600 people by bombing the Mariupol theater.

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