Skip to content

At Least Seven Killed In Russian Strike On Theatre In Centre Of Chernihiv

At least seven people were killed and 144 injured in a “vile” Russian missile strike that hit a theatre and a central square in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said.

“I am sure our soldiers will give a response to Russia for this terrorist attack,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address, delivered early on Sunday at the end of a visit to Sweden. “A notable response.”

A six-year-old girl named Sofia was among the dead, Zelenskiy said, and 15 of the injured were children. Fifteen others were police officers, interior minister Ihor Klymenko said on Telegram. Most of the victims were in vehicles, crossing the road, or returning from church when a missile hit the city’s landmark Drama Theatre, he said.

Regional governor Viacheslav Chaus said 41 people were in hospital on Saturday.

A brief film of a woman in a summer dress posing for the camera appeared to show the moment of the strike in the background, with a missile striking the roof of the theatre and a fire trail travelling beyond towards the ground.

Another video accompanying the Ukrainian president’s post showed debris scattered across a square in front of the regional theatre, where parked cars were heavily damaged.

Emergency services at the scene of the missile strike on a theatre in Chernihiv, Ukraine.

Photograph: State Emergency Service Of Ukraine Handout/EPAOne body could also be briefly seen in the video slouched inside a car. Another photograph showed a body on the ground next to a puddle of blood as images of the incident circulated on social media.

“Let’s do even more to consolidate the world against Russian terror. Let’s give even more to our state to protect life. Russia must lose this war for life to win,” the president added.

Ukrainian media reported that a public event featuring drone manufacturers had been taking place inside the theatre at the time of the attack. The interior minister, Ihor Klymenko, said only that an event had been taking place in the building and that Ukraine’s domestic security service was investigating the matter.

Maria Berlinska, a Ukrainian activist, posted on Facebook that there was a drone conference taking place at the drama theatre but that it had been stopped when an air raid siren sounded. The location of the event had only circulated to participants “a few hours” before the event started. Organisers were now co-operating with the SBU security service as part of their inquiries.

The roof of the theatre collapsed subsequently, the interior ministry said, after a fire that was extinguished by the emergency services.

The UN denounced the attack. “It is heinous to attack the main square of a large city, in the morning, while people are out walking, some going to church to celebrate a religious day for many Ukrainians,” said Denise Brown, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine.

skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotion

“I condemn this repeated pattern of Russian strikes on populated areas of Ukraine … Attacks directed against civilians or civilian objects are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law.”

Chernihiv is a historical city known for its medieval churches and its centre has no obvious military significance. The Russian border is about 50 miles to the north-east, but the front in the east of Ukraine is more than 300 miles away.

Russia has previously attacked Ukrainian cities far from the frontline with missiles and drones as part of its full-scale invasion launched in February 2022. A deliberate or reckless strike on civilian areas or buildings is considered to be a war crime by the international community.

Kyiv’s air force said early on Saturday that the Ukrainian military had shot down 15 out of 17 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Moscow in an overnight strike.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defence ministry said it had destroyed a Ukrainian drone in the Belgorod region and jammed another near Moscow. A third struck a military airfield in the Novgorod region, damaging a warplane, it added.

Zelenskiy was in Sweden on Saturday, his first visit to the country since the invasion, and will meet officials as well as King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia.

Sweden abandoned its longstanding policy of military nonalignment to support Ukraine with weapons and other aid in the war against Russia. It also applied for Nato membership, but is still waiting to join.

Featured News