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Press TV in Mariupol: A propaganda war is happening in Ukraine

An interior view shows the theatre destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 3, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Press TV’s correspondent has visited the Drama Theater of Mariupol for the second time during the last week to find out how many people died there when it was bombed in March.

The theater was bombed on March 16 at the time when up to 1,200 people were reportedly using the building as a safe haven from the ongoing Russian military operation. After the bombing, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko called it “genocide” of Ukrainians.

While Ukraine accuses Russia of being behind the bombing, Moscow denies the accusation, saying the Ukrainians blew it up to blame it on them. Estimates of the people killed, range from around a thirty to over six hundred.

“A workman took me down to the basement. He wouldn’t speak on camera but told me that his team had only recovered three bodies from the rubble. He also grumbled that they could have worked much faster if they hadn’t been ordered to remove brick by brick due to, as he called them, fake stories about hundreds under the rubble,” Johnny Miller said.

“Some eyewitnesses in previous media reports say that there were 100 people outside the theater at a field kitchen, all killed,” he added.

Miller also interviewed a medic from the nearest hospital who was working at the time of the explosion. “Maybe it was a strike form the air according to another account it was detonated, I cannot say it for sure… it’s not clear,” the medic said.

“If the workmen is correct about there being few bodies found in the rubble, then did the Russian’s take away hundreds of bodies in the few hours after the explosion, in which they took control of the area and before the morning? Possibly,” Miller said.

He says there is not only a battle on the ground in Ukraine, but also a propaganda war as Russia seeks to justify its operation and NATO and Ukraine seek to make Russia look guilty of war crimes.

The question is that have the figures been exaggerated to cause greater uproar? “In an honest world, an independent investigation would be carried out to determine what happened and how many people died. But for now, as war continues to rage, that seems unlikely. As they say, history is written by the winners,” Miller said.

After the bombing of Mariupol Drama theater, there were indications that most of the individuals at the location had survived the incident.

The former spokesperson for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, Iuliia Mendel, posted on Twitter after the attack that the majority of the people hiding in the theater “stayed alive.”

But on 4 May, Associated Press published an investigation with evidence pointing to 600 dead in the airstrike.

The bomb shelter in Mariupol Drama Theatre has survived the brutal Russian missile. At least, majority stayed alive after bombing. People are getting out from the rubble

— Iuliia Mendel (@IuliiaMendel) March 17, 2022

Russia has denied bombing the theater, and the Kremlin has repeatedly said that Russian forces have not targeted civilians since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the “special military operation” on February 24.

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