Militants of the Azov nationalist battalion blew up the theater building they had previously mined in Mariupol. This was reported by the Russian Defense Ministry on March 17, 2022. Thus, the military department refuted the accusations voiced by Kiev against itself, as earlier, Ukraine accused Russia of the alleged airstrike on this building.
“On March 16, Russian aviation did not strike any ground targets in the city limits of Mariupol. At the same time, there is reliable evidence that the militants of the nationalist Azov battalion committed a new bloody provocation. They themselves blew up the theater building they had previously mined,” the Russian military department explained.
The Russian military emphasized that considering the provocation already implemented on March 9 with the maternity hospital in Mariupol, as well as considering the potential danger to the lives of civilians, “the theater building has never been considered as a target for destruction.” In addition, with the help of Russia, over 31,000 civilians in a day have been already evacuated from Mariupol through humanitarian corridors.
The refugees who got out of Mariupol reported that the Nazis of the Azov battalion were holding civilians hostage in the building of this theater and used the upper floors as firing points.
Civilians told that nationalists from the battalion were just hiding behind their backs, using regular citizens as a human shield. Moreover, drunk, with assault rifles, they came into the local stores, and forced people to say “Glory to the heroes”.
“We were not allowed to go outside, we stayed in the basement for 15 days. There is no water, the children were all screaming, there are no shops there. They came, put up tanks, we hid so that we wouldn’t be shot. While retreating, they smashed a bomb shelter, in the drama theater,” the refugee from Mariupol said.
Many civilians were driven into the theater, promising them protection in a bomb shelter. Almost immediately there was a leak of information and on March 12 and 13 there were messages on Twitter and Telegram that Azov was planning to blow up the building and blame the Russian military for this.
Information allegedly came from Mariupol locals ( reminder – they are mostly ethnic Russian) that
neo-Nazi from Azov gathered Mariupol women, children & elderly into the building of Mariupol drama theatre and are going to blow it up, blaming the victims on “Russian shelling”
— Elena Evdokimova (@elenaevdokimov7) March 13, 2022
At about the same time, a video was shot showing civilians in the theater. The video quality is very poor.
The second video was made by the Associated Press, who shoot quite high-quality videos. Probably, this video should show the numerous victims of the attack on the drama theater.
However, it is clear that natural daylight is making its way into the building, and the explosion in the theater occurred after 3.30 pm. While rescuers arrived there, dismantled the wreckage, took the victims to the hospital and called the cameraman, time should pass, so it would clearly be twilight outside the window.
Much more dreadful stories one can hear from those who tried to leave Mariupol. Locals told that there are many dead civilians in the city who have no one to bury them. Radicals from “Azov” disrupted the evacuation of civilians, shooting those who tried to leave the city.
“Azov, b*tch! People were leaving, ‘Azov’ shot, as**oles! Shot columns of civilians who tried to leave for Volodarsk – shot buses!” the eyewitness told.
Earlier, the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, said that special forces soldiers from Chechnya would storm the territory of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Lenta reminds. Kadyrov noted that after the breakthrough of the defence of Mariupol, many fighters of nationalist battalions settled on the territory of the plant. Special forces were ordered to clean up Azovstal systematically and with minimal damage to personnel.
Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta