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Russian Actress Killed While Performing in Occupied Donetsk

Actress Polina Menshikh. Polina Menshikh / VK

A Russian actress was killed by Ukrainian shelling while performing for the Russian military in the Moscow-occupied Donetsk region.

The death of Polina Menshikh, 40, was confirmed to the state-run TASS news agency by regional officials and in a VKontakte post by a St. Petersburg theater.

“It is with great pain that we inform you that Polina Menshikh … died yesterday at a performance in the Donbas as a result of shelling,” the Portal theater said Monday.

Menshikh had been performing at a volunteer concert for soldiers in the village of Kumachovo at the time of the attack, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper said.

Video published by the Astra Telegram news channel appears to show the moment of the attack. 

In the footage, a woman is seen singing to an audience that appears to include members of the military before the performance is interrupted by a loud noise and the screen goes dark.

Donetsk occupying authorities have reported other civilian deaths as a result of Ukrainian shelling in recent weeks, as Ukrainian forces have made inroads into other Russian-occupied areas.

Russia-backed officials in Donetsk said that the 27th Rocket Artillery Brigade under Colonel Dmitry Khrapach was responsible for the attack. 

They also said that Ukraine used U.S.-supplied M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) had been used, as well as other missiles.

A Telegram post by Platon Mamadov, a onetime pro-Kremlin troll now volunteering for the Russian war effort, said HIMARS first hit volunteers’ cars, a stage, and the artists’ dressing room. A second attack hit those who came to pull people out of the rubble and provide first aid, he said.

The DNR officials said two apartment buildings and four “civil infrastructure” buildings had been damaged, but mentioned no deaths beyond Menshikh.

The independent Holod news website and Newsweek reported that 25 Russian soldiers had also been killed in the attack, citing Ukrainian military sources.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said Monday that it planned to open an investigation into the death of a civilian.

Russia claimed to have annexed Ukraine’s Donetsk region in September 2022 following widely disputed referendums.

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