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Ukrainian ballet artists fail to return home after Finland tour

Three escapees, including two men of conscription age, have been suspended from further performances

Three ballet troupe members from Ukraine’s Lviv Opera have failed to return to their home country after their tour in northern Europe, the theatre’s press service has reported.

The principal ballet dancer, Andrey Mikhalikha, along with his wife – soloist Yulia Mikhalikha-Roma – and ballet master Bogdan Klyuchnik, apparently fled after performances of Don Quixote in Estonia and Finland.

They were next scheduled to appear on stage in their home city of Lviv on March 1, but did not return.

The runaway artists have been suspended from further performances at the Lviv Opera and their names have been removed from its website. The theatre says the incident is being investigated.

Last December was marred by another escape scandal. Popular Ukrainian TV host Aleksey Pechiy decided not to return home after a trip to Brussels, where he was covering the European Union summit. The reporter posted a lengthy missive on social media, explaining his “difficult decision” to stay in the EU. He lamented that attitudes towards Ukraine were changing in the West and said he had decided to stay in the European Union to promote “Ukraine’s agenda” in the media.

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Ukrainian journalist and former Channel 24 host Aleksey Pechiy
Ukrainian TV host flees to EU

Kiev declared a general mobilization in February 2022 after the conflict with Russia erupted, barring eligible men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country. Nevertheless, thousands have managed to flee illegally since then, and the number is constantly rising.

Last week UN official Philippe Leclerc said Ukraine has the right to demand the return of men who are evading the draft. He added that military mobilization in Ukraine does not constitute persecution, and that legal protection for draftees can theoretically be reviewed.

Ukraine is currently struggling to refill the ranks of its army. Last December, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed that the military leadership had proposed calling up an additional 450,000-500,000 people. Zelensky’s aide, Mikhail Podoliak, then said that no one should be allowed to just “sit out” the conflict with Russia. The parliament in Kiev is currently deliberating on a new mobilization law.

March 02, 2024 at 01:12PM

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