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Russians cover ruins of Mariupol Drama Theater with banners, despite earlier promises to reopen it before September 10

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The ruins of Mariupol's Drama Theater, Russia’s airstrike on which may have resulted in up to 600 casualties, have been surrounded by a wall of banners carrying the images of Russian writers and poets. The Mariupol City Council has published the photos on its official Telegram channel.

“This is Mariupol's wounded heart and soul: the Drama Theater. The invaders have concealed this reminder of their own crimes,” the message says.
Back in June, Russia’s propagandist media agency RIA Novosti published a story with the headline: “Mariupol plans to re-open its Drama Theater on September 10” Russian appointee Ilya Solonin, “acting director general” of the theater, shared during a press tour organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense that the institution has been tasked with re-opening before September 10.

Solonin also promised that the new season would open with “two or three choreographic and variety pieces and a drama production”.

The Russian Air Force launched a strike on the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in Mariupol on March 16. In June, international human rights group Amnesty International concluded its investigation, categorizing Russia's attack on the drama theater as a war crime. Amnesty International commissioned a mathematic model of the explosion from a physicist to determine the weight of explosives necessary to cause such destruction. The scientist concluded that the Russian aircraft dropped two 400-800 kilogram bombs that detonated simultaneously. The attack was most likely carried out by Su-25, Su-30, or Su-34 jets, based at nearby Russian airfields and frequently flying missions over southern Ukraine.

Having interviewed eyewitnesses, Associated Press journalists concluded that the death toll of the strike stood at around 600. To estimate the number of casualties, they used two plans of the theater premises, photographs and videos made both before and after the airstrike, and expert conclusions. The Russian military may have removed some of the bodies, AP remarks.

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