KIDS // FREE AZOV

This year, on March 16, marks two years since the day when Russia attacked the Mariupol Drama Theatre – a place that served as a shelter for hundreds of civilians in Mariupol – surrounded by occupiers – in the east of Ukraine. Russian aircraft dropped two 500-kilogram bombs on the building. The powerful explosion destroyed the theater. The exact number of people killed by the Russians on that day is still unknown. According to various estimates, several hundred lives were lost, including children. From 500 to 1,200 peaceful residents were hiding in the building. The Russians knew there were people in the theater. The Russians knew there were children there. The inscription “ДЕТИ” [Russian for “children”] became the horrifying symbol of the tragedy. Shortly before the air strike, Mariupol residents painted these letters in large font visible from the sky on the asphalt with paint, hoping for some humanity from the Russians. Since the day of the tragedy, the Russians have been trying to cover up the traces of their crimes. The dead were taken away and buried in mass graves. Russia officially recognized only 12 deaths. The blame for the tragedy was traditionally placed on Ukraine. To eliminate the consequences of the tragedy, the occupiers dismantled most of the building, leaving only the facade of the drama theatre. To honor the memory of the innocent Ukrainians killed, Ukrainians in Vienna organised a memorial event on the second anniversary of the Russian bombing of the Mariupol Drama Theatre.