Russian strike on Chernihiv Theatre brutal reminder of ongoing assault on Ukrainian culture

The Chernihiv Drama Theatre following the attack (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs)

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Russia’s strike on the Chernihiv Drama Theatre is a stark reminder that Ukrainian culture is constantly under attack

You may have seen the news by now:  on Saturday, a russian missile slammed into the Chernihiv Drama Theater in the city’s downtown, injuring 156 people and killing seven, including a six year old girl. The theater itself was severely damaged — its roof was destroyed and windows were blown out.


While the details around this strike, the circumstances around it and those killed and injured are still being established, the larger pattern is already clear: Russia has repeatedly targeted Ukrainian cultural sites in civilian areas, often with deadly results.

Attacks on cultural sites

The theatre can now be added to the growing list of historically and culturally significant places targeted by Russian forces since the war began.


According to the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, from Feb. 24, 2022, to Jul. 25, 2023, Russia damaged and destroyed 763 objects of Ukrainian cultural heritage, including 23 monuments.


One attack stands out in this regard: In the single deadliest strike of the war, Russian forces destroyed a children’s theatre in Mariupol on March 16, 2022, as families hid inside. The Associated Press reported that evidence suggested approximately 600 civilians were killed.


RELATED: Petro Yatsenko: The heart of Mariupol is definitely alive

Chernihiv in the crosshairs

Russia has repeatedly targeted cultural sites in Chernihiv, a historically important city in northern Ukraine only 30 miles from the Russian border. According to the latest data, Chernihiv accounts for 16% of all Ukraine’s destroyed and damaged cultural monuments.


As of September 2022, 26 libraries in the region have been damaged by the attacks — six were partially destroyed and three were completely destroyed, according to data from the Ministry of Culture and Information,


Furthermore, on April 2022, Russian shelling hit the archival unit of the Security Service of Ukraine in Chernihiv, causing it to burn down, resulting in the destruction of documents containing information about the Soviet regime’s repressions of Ukrainians.

More on Chernihiv

Chernihiv is the regional centre of Chernihiv Oblast. It was founded at the end of the VII century at the confluence of the Stryzhen River and the Desna River.


The historic centre of Chernihiv is a candidate for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The city is known for its active cultural life. Famous Ukrainian writers were born in the Chernihiv Oblast, including Mykola Kholodnyi, Pavlo Tychyna, Vasyl Ellan-Blakytnyi, Kost Moskalets, Hanna Barvinok, Oleksandr Dovzhenko and others.