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Ukrainian theater closes after ‘almost all’ male workers are drafted

Mobilization has spared only pensioners and students at Chernigov drama house, its head has said

A drama theater in the Ukrainian city of Chernigov is being forced to shut down, after the local military conscription center called up almost all of its male staff members, the facility’s leader has complained.

Kiev has ramped up its mobilization push after sweeping reforms made it easier for the military to summon recruits. The theater based in a settlement some 125km north of the capital Kiev had received summonses for 34 of its employees, Andrey Bakirov told the news outlet Suspilne last Sunday.

“Seven actors, two sound engineers, an editor, a violinist,” he noted. Some people on the list were already serving in the military, he added.

Most of those who answered the call have been deemed fit for duty and sent to a boot camp, Bakirov said. A few, including a 56-year-old distinguished actor and a 59-year-old driver, were told to attend an extended medical examination to determine whether the Defense Ministry wants them. Under the new rules, people aged between 25 and 60 are eligible for mobilization.

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“Our theater will be closed for an indefinite time. We cannot perform anything, only produce something new. Everyone is in shock. They took almost all the men,” the theater head said.

The only ones left are men of retirement age, a few students, and a 24-year-old actor, who has an exemption from military service, Bakirov added.

Vladimir Zelensky signed the military reform last month in an attempt to bolster enrollment rates and prepare new units for Ukraine’s hostilities with Russia. His government claims that only by defeating Moscow can Kiev achieve a “just peace.”

With the new rules coming into force this month, the Ukrainian economy is reportedly taking a hit, as fighting-age men refuse to show up in public spaces out of fear of being caught by conscription patrols.

Mauro Longobardo, the CEO of a Kiev-based steel plant owned by the international giant ArcelorMittal, told The Financial Times this month that the factory’s existence is at risk due to lack of labor.

He said: “If they continue to mobilize, we will not have enough [staff] to operate.” The company is being forced to give some physically demanding jobs to women in an attempt to stay afloat, he added.

While Kiev officials previously claimed that just around 31,000 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed since the beginning of the hostilities in 2022, the actual tally is widely believed to be much higher. According to estimates by then-Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu earlier this month, Ukrainian military casualties have reached 111,000 soldiers since the beginning of the year alone.

May 27, 2024 at 08:50PM

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