Despite conflict, the show goes on in east Ukraine

Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:35am EST
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By Maria Tsvetkova

DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - When the curtain falls at the theater in east Ukraine, some of the audience have trouble applauding because they are holding rifles.

Others have obeyed the sign at the door telling them not to bring in their weapons, but are still in their combat fatigues.

But for all those in the audience at the Donetsk National Ukrainian Music and Drama Theatre, the night's performance offers solace from the conflict being waged around them.

"I believe that theater is important as a weapon for a fighter in such a tough situation", Valentin Vlasnikov, a separatist, said after watching a play called "Trap for a Solitary Man".

"This gives us the belief that life will get better, that we have a future as a country, as a state."

Vlasnikov was at the theater with his wife and daughter and apologized for his military attire, saying: "It's not normal to go to the theater like this. I should have changed. I simply forgot".

Donetsk, a city of more than 1 million before hostilities began, is at the heart of the pro-Russian separatist rebellion against Ukrainian government forces that has spread across the east of the former Soviet republic since April.

Its suburbs have been shelled for months and at times the shells have reached into the center.   Continued...

A sign is pictured in Donetsk National Ukrainian Music and Drama Theatre, eastern Ukraine, November 29, 2014. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic