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Ukrainian footage shows former Yuri Gagarin stadium destroyed by Russian shells

Russian military attacks in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv have left a huge crater in a stadium that once bore the name of one of the most famous figures in Russian history: Yuri Gagarin, the first human to fly in space .

Chernihiv, located about 90 miles north of the Ukrainian capital kyiv, has been under attack by Russian forces for weeks.

Heartbreaking reports of civilian casualties, including among families trying to get to safety, have emerged from the violence.

Further destruction outside the Chernihiv stadium in Ukraine on April 5, 2022.
Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty

On Monday, journalist Tim Judah, Balkan correspondent for The Economist, published a photo on Twitter showing a large crater left in the Chernihiv Stadium, formerly known as the Yuri Gagarin Stadium.

Judah said the crater, which appears to be several feet deep, was left by a Russian missile and is “among the largest I have seen”. In the background, debris litters the grass pitch as rows of stadium seats near the area of ​​the blast have been devastated.

Footage of the destruction was also shared by local football team FC Desna Chernihiv, who call the stadium home. The bombing of the stadium had taken place at least as early as mid-March.

The bombed-out stadium was named after Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet cosmonaut who became the first person to travel into space. His flight took place on April 12, 1961, 61 years ago today.

Gagarin’s flight was one of the most important in the history of the Soviet Union, marking a milestone in the space race that will propel him into the limelight. Chernihiv Stadium was renamed in his honor in 1961 and he visited the site in 1964.

The stadium, which is now officially known as the Olympic Training and Sports Center, is still often referred to as the Yuri Gagarin Stadium.

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Chernihiv is just one of the areas in Ukraine where civilians have been subjected to violence by Russian occupying forces. The BBC reported evidence that Russia targeted a water pumping station in Chernihiv on March 14. Plant chief Serhiy Malyavko told the outlet that three members of his family and a worker were killed there: “I am 100% sure that the Russian troops destroyed the city’s infrastructure in order to that there is no more gas, electricity or water in the city,” he said.

On April 8, CNN reported that at least 350 civilians had been killed in the Russian bombing of Chernihiv, citing authorities. The number should increase.

Ukrainian footage shows former Yuri Gagarin stadium destroyed by Russian shells
Ukraine’s Chernihiv stadium, formerly named after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, seen here on April 5, 2022, destroyed by Russian attacks.
Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty

Last week, a Pentagon official said The Washington Post that Russian forces appeared to have retreated from Chernihiv, but the destruction left in their wake remains.

Elsewhere, the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. In an intelligence update posted on Twitter on April 12, the British Ministry of Defense said Russian attacks were “focused on Ukrainian positions near Donetsk and Luhansk with further fighting around Kherson and Mykolaiv and further thrust towards Kramatorsk”.

The Defense Ministry also said it expects fighting in eastern Ukraine to intensify over the next two to three weeks as Russia focuses its efforts there.

On Monday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that between the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 and April 10, it had recorded at least 1,842 civilian deaths in Ukraine, including 28 girls and 50 boys as well as 70 children whose sex was not yet known. The actual numbers are thought to be considerably higher.


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