“It's not the past.” A giant inscription commemorates the destruction of the Mariupol Theater in Prague.

There are about a hundred people in the Piazzetta of the National Theatre. They kneel on the ground and paint tiles with white chalk. The sign “Children” is almost ready.

It's getting dark and it's starting to drizzle. At six o'clock they bring candles to the Piazzetta. Ukrainian music plays hauntingly in the square, and the eyes of many present light up. A black-haired girl is crying with a candle on a white tile.

“Couldn't hold it in, sorry. It's touching. It reminded me of my Ukraine and those who are no longer here,” she explains her mood. She introduces herself as Anna. She's from the Luhansk region and fled to us right after the full-scale Russian invasion began.

Soon, the crowd rises to the “Children” sign, many draped in Ukrainian flags.

“On March 16, 2022, the Russian occupiers carried out one of the biggest terrorist attacks in Ukraine. Not even a large children's sign on the square in front of the building stopped them. It was written in a language they understood. As a result, hundreds of civilians who took refuge there, hoping that the theater would never come under attack, were killed,” said Chech. Counselor of the Embassy of Ukraine in the republic, Jevan Kulesa said.

event on the national stage.Video: John Novak, Cesnum Spravy

“Help Us”

“In the most difficult times of history, it is very important to receive reliable support and assistance. Ukraine understands and feels that the Czech Republic is our reliable friend. We will never forget,” he added.

“He has been in Russian captivity for twenty-two months and I have no information about him. I keep watching the news, no, no, no. I have no idea where he is, how he is, what his health is. I am asking you as the mother of my son who is in captivity, but And for other mothers fighting in Ukraine: Help us, and thank you for being here,” she tells the audience.

There will also be speeches, appeals for financial aid to Ukraine, thanksgiving and finally the Ukrainian national anthem. The “Mariupol Theater” commemorative event ends after about an hour.

“The main message of this year's meeting should be that horror in the theater of Mariupol is not a thing of the past, it continues. People in Mariupol are living under occupation, facing Russian terrorism, and we don't know what atrocities are really happening there. We think about that and about those who stay in the occupied areas.” explains Julie Levkova, organizer of The Voice of Ukraine.

The giant sign didn't help

It was the 21st day of the Russian invasion and Mariupol was under heavy bombardment. Civilian homes, vehicles or indoor swimming pools were hit that day by Russian rockets and artillery. Everyone knows that the largest bomb shelter in the city is located in the basement of the theater. That is why hundreds of people (up to 1,200 according to estimates), mainly women and children, were hiding there. In the square in front of the building, they painted the inscription “Children” in giant letters. So the pilots of the attacking Russian planes could see him.

It didn't help. At around ten in the morning, two aerial bombs of 500 kg each, dropped by Russian Sukhoi fighter jets, hit the theater. The building collapsed.

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