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21 Nov, 2023 22:15

Russian actress killed in Ukrainian rocket strike

Kiev used US-supplied HIMARS to attack a concert in Donetsk, authorities have said
Russian actress killed in Ukrainian rocket strike

Actor, choreographer, and director Polina Menshikh was mortally wounded in a Ukrainian rocket attack during a performance in Donetsk, her colleagues revealed on Tuesday. The strike reportedly used HIMARS systems supplied by the US to first bomb a charity concert Menshikh wa participating in and then target the first responders who came to help.

Menshikh, 40, was the head of the Lege Artis studio. She was in the town of Kumachovo, in the Starobeshevo district of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on Sunday to perform at a concert for Russian troops. The performance was cut short, however, when a volley of HIMARS missiles struck the concert hall.

“It is with great pain that we inform you that Polina Menshikh, the director of ‘The Last Trial’ (Lege Artis), died yesterday at a performance in Donbass as a result of shelling,” the Portal Theater Studio said in a statement. ‘The Last Trial’ is a rock opera based on the fantasy series Dragonlance. The December 9 performance will be dedicated to the memory of Menshikh, Portal said.

According to a Telegram post by a volunteer from Ekaterinburg, Platon Mamatov, the first volley hit the parking lot, the dressing rooms and the stage, burying performers under rubble. 

The Ukrainian artillery used a “double tap” strike – first hitting the theater, then targeting the rescue crews with the second volley, Mamatov wrote.

Local security services confirmed the victim's identity to TASS. However, the Russian military has not commented on the attack and there has been no official information about any other deaths or injuries.

The DPR center for tracking Ukrainian war crimes said that the Ukrainian army’s 27th Separate Rocket Artillery Brigade was responsible for the attack. The unit, commanded by Colonel Dmitry Khrapach, used M-21A1 and M-31 rockets for the HIMARS system, firing from the town of Elizavetovka, about 80 kilometers away.

Washington sent the first High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) launchers to Ukraine in June 2022. Last month, the US sent a batch of longer-range ATACMS rockets, reportedly with cluster bomb payloads. Multiple US outlets have reported that the Ukrainian military consults with the Pentagon on target approval for the weapons.

HIMARS rockets have been repeatedly used against Donbass civilians. Earlier this month, Moscow warned the West that those who supplied Ukraine with weapons used in the commission of war crimes will be held responsible alongside Kiev’s government.