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Latest news on Russia’s war in Ukraine

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Latest news on Russia’s war in Ukraine

Taras Shevchenko Chernihiv Regional Academic Music and Drama Theatre is seen damaged by a Russian missile attack in Chernihiv, Ukraine, on August 19.
Taras Shevchenko Chernihiv Regional Academic Music and Drama Theatre is seen damaged by a Russian missile attack in Chernihiv, Ukraine, on August 19. Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Ukraine will investigate the circumstances surrounding a drone demonstration event that was taking place inside the Chernihiv drama theater struck by a Russian missile Saturday, Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said in a video posted on Telegram.

A co-organizer of the event, Maria Berlinska, who is a cofounder of the charity Dignitas Fund, posted on Facebook following the attack in the northern Ukrainian city. Berlinska said the event, which had been announced on Facebook on August 12 as a drone “demo day” — with Ukrainian manufacturers, flight school representatives and military personnel who use drones at the front line — was officially approved by local authorities, who provided the venue. The location was only disclosed hours before the event for security reasons.

“All the participants were checked by the police upon the entrance. There were medics present on site,” she added.

Berlinska said it was not a public exhibition but “a closed meeting of engineers, military and volunteers on military tech for the frontline.”

“We are now working with the Security Service of Ukraine providing all needed information for a prompt investigation,” she added.

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“As soon (as) the air raid siren went on, the event was stopped and participants were told a number of times they need to go to the shelter. Unfortunately, some people still went outside. Everyone who went to the shelter is safe. Me personally, I entered the shelter a minute before the hit,” she said.
However, Klymenko said, “Everyone who was inside the drama theater went down to the shelter in time. The National Police officers tried to get everyone into the shelter after the air raid was announced.” 

Video shared by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and geolocated by News Portal Space shows debris and damaged cars surrounding the Taras Shevchenko Chernihiv Regional Academic Music and Drama Theatre. 

Klymenko said police have cordoned off residential areas in the center of Chernihiv and are conducting door-to-door inspections.  

“Additional patrols are deployed in the city. The area around the epicenter of the attack is being examined,” he said, adding that “the Security Service of Ukraine is initiating criminal proceedings regarding the event, so I cannot comment on what happened inside.” 

Klymenko said the majority of casualties happened outside the building. “The most victims were in their vehicles or crossing the road, as well as returning from three churches,” he continued. Saturday is the Feast of the Transfiguration, a major holiday in the Orthodox calendar.

“There is a large park behind the drama theater, where mothers had been walking with their children since early morning. The central square was completely filled with cars. People began coming into cafes and restaurants,” he said.  

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