A few days before Christmas the ‘city of Mary’, Mariupol, was suddenly featured in Western news reports. The Mariupol Drama Theatre, notoriously blown up by the Azov battalion in early March in a false flag operation that coincided with Kiev’s demands for a No Fly Zone, was being demolished, it said. Russia was apparently doing this to hide the evidence of its war crimes in bombing the theatre while there were children inside. No doubt those who believed this concocted story will also believe the sequel, despite Amnesty International’s study and report that could only find verifiable evidence that four people died there and a few were injured.
In fact there was ample evidence to show explosives were laid in the theatre by Azov agents in a successful effort to frame Russia - who was accused of the ultimate war crime of targeting a civilian shelter despite "children" being written clearly on the pavement outside; a ridiculous contention, as Russia had no interest in doing something so militarily pointless, and sought to protect civilians who hadn't fled westwards. Despite their low estimate of casualties - based on interviews with refugees from Mariupol only - Amnesty's complex and technical analysis of the pattern of destruction of the theatre came to the absurd conclusion it was caused by two Russian bombs or missiles which penetrated through the roof and floor before exploding and blowing the roof off. When the Amnesty report came out in mid-July, it was duly reported by SBS as confirming previous claims of deliberate Russian targeting and of "likely" 600 casualties. I submitted a long and detailed refutation to SBS, using evidence from local investigators including the ex-SBU Vasily Prozorov, who produced an excellent ten-minute video about the theatre, made following Mariupol's liberation in May. My complaint, including photo analysis is described here and can be downloaded here. Since that time and following the final surrender of the "Azovstal family" from the bunkers under the steel mills on the Eastern side of the river, much rebuilding and repair work has gone on in Mariupol, financed by Russian regional councils using local and Russian labour. This has focused primarily on building new apartment blocks and restoring damaged ones, as well as on constructing a new hospital and other public facilities. The beloved Drama Theatre also took priority as a symbolic cultural site, but with more preparation needed, including the erection of a screen wall around the whole building, on which an impression of the planned building is printed. This illustration can be seen in the image below, though was apparently not noticeable to SBS who had announced the building's destruction only days earlier.
But to give a better idea of how things really are in Maria’s city, none better than from the effusive Liu Sivaya, revisiting the Drama Theatre in November and chatting to people about the rebuilding and restoration of their city. She has spliced together footage inside the theatre after its bombing with new film of the same spots now. As the reconstruction crews were just starting on the job and erecting the screening round the whole building, she talks about this with the guys doing it:
For the Azovstal family however, good news about Mariupol's reconstruction and positive spirit is bad news. The notorious Azov battalion was born in the city - beside the Sea of Azov - following the violent invasion of nationalist forces in early 2014, and subsequent eight year occupation and reign of terror over the predominantly Russian speaking population. This attachment to Mariupol, and affectation of exile is evident in the centre of Kiev, with huge posters hanging on buildings around the central square, where this Christmas stood the "tree of a thousand LEDs" - powered by a generator. Symbolism is everywhere, from the giant red and black heart of Azovstal to the slogans on flags and posters.
I have drawn attention to this before, comparing them with those of the Azov's victims in Donetsk, and the extraordinary massacre of Ukrainian POWs in Yelenovka detention centre. For those still unaware of this particular war crime of the Kiev regime, my article and Eva Bartlett's photos are necessary study. There is no doubt whatsoever who was responsible for the HIMARS strike on the prison, given the direction of the missile and the motive. While local and Russian forces had no interest in killing the prisoners they had saved from Azovstal, but rather could use them in prisoner swaps, Kiev was worried about what these prisoners might give away, either under duress or willingly. Investigators like Vasily Prozorov and Maxim Grigoriev had already conducted some interesting interviews, revealing complicity in torture and other war crimes. What is in question however, is just what the Azovstal family knew, and how much they were party to crimes against their brothers in the battalion. Their pretensions of innocence - particularly of those who retreated beneath the Azovstal steelworks as a last ditch effort to escape imprisonment or execution for their recent and past crimes - ring very hollow. Portrayed as heroes by Kiev and in Western media for "defending Azovstal", they were actually guilty of the worst offence - using the civilians stuck in the bunkers with them to prevent their wholesale slaughter. But there is a sequel to this - an extraordinary new allegiance between the neo-Nazi Azovs and the Israeli Labor party, who seem to find common cause in defending their nationalist cause against barbarian invasions, whether Arab or Russian.
Ten days before Christmas, as reported by the Electronic Intifada, two leading figures in the Azov movement visited Israel, and the key site of Masada. Illya Samoilenko and Yulia Fedosyuk met with key figures, as in the tweet below from the Azovstal Family’s telegram channel.
Fedosyuk’s partner is one of the prisoners held by Russia, and unlikely to be released in the foreseeable future. The long-suffering residents of the new Mariupol and their brave soldiers who fought for their liberation would not allow it.
DM December 31st 2022