A theatre from Mariupol is being reborn in Ukraine, the director of which ZMINA helped take out of the occupation

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The first non-state theatre of Donetsk region “Terra Incognita” from Mariupol is being reborn in Kyiv. The artistic director of the theatre Anatolii Levchenko and his family were helped to get out of the occupation last year by the team of Human Rights Centre ZMINA.

Photo: UCMC

This became known on April 3 during a press conference in Kyiv.

Anatolii Levchenko was held captive by representatives of the Russian Federation in Donetsk for almost 10 months, and after his release, together with his family, he dared to go to the controlled territory and addressed this request to Human Rights Centre ZMINA.

Liudmyla Yankina, the head of the protection of civil society department of Human Rights Centre ZMINA, said that she and Anatolii Levchenko met personally for the first time during the event:

”We didn’t know each other before, I didn’t know anything about Mr. Anatolii. I only heard that the director of the Mariupol Theatre was abducted by the Russians and was in captivity. Later, a friend of Anatolii turned to me and said that the director should be taken out of the occupation. Such a person as Anatolii Levchenko had to be taken out of the occupation, because he was threatened with another captivity”.

Yankina said that she immediately started negotiations with several organisations involved in the evacuation of people from the occupied territories.

Liudmyla Yankina / Photo: UCMC

“Taking Mr. Anatolii out was a really important task for us. And when all this happened, when our donor confirmed the possibility of allocating the amount of funds for taking the director and his family out, and then, when Anatoliy called from a peaceful territory, sent photos that he was already at liberty, I cried”, the human rights defender recalls.

Liudmyla Yankina reminded that ZMINA is engaged in supporting civilian hostages, that is, persons who were illegally deprived of their freedom in the occupied territories by representatives of the Russian Federation, and the organisation constantly receives requests from people.

Yankina is convinced that now as many people as possible should put their efforts to support people in the occupation.

“This is not just the story of some individual family, it is about the preservation of our heritage, cultural heritage, it is about the preservation of our people”, the human rights defender added.

The theatre’s first performance “Light at the End of the Tunnel” based on the play by Neda Nezhdana will take place this Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7, in Kyiv at the Les Kurbas Center. It was this play that was to be presented on February 25, 2022 at the Mariupol Drama Theatre, where Anatolii Levchenko was the main director.

Anatolii Levchenko / Photo: UCMC

This play takes place in the premises of the city morgue, where two young women were locked up for the night. All that remains is to share thoughts, fears, hopes and sort out possible versions of what happened. The main idea of the play is to feel the true importance of some basic values: for example, to realise that without freedom of choice, without the right to make independent decisions and bear responsibility for them, a person’s life becomes, perhaps, easier and simpler, but it loses meaning and sense.