Ukraine: Oldest cinema in Kyiv goes up in flames during gay film screening
Kyiv’s oldest cinema went up in flames this week during the screening of a gay film after a smoke grenade was thrown into the audience.
A fire broke out in the Zhoten cinema at 21:41 on Wednesday and lasted for roughly five hours, it has been reported.
The flames were extinguished when 22 fire department units were called to the scene.
Although the building itself, built in 1931, was left badly damaged, none of the 100 people at the screening were injured.
Festival coordinator Aleksey Chaschin said: “The film had been playing for 20 minutes already when people in back rows shouted: ‘Smoke!'”
One of the attendees wrote on Facebook that an unknown man tossed an “incendiary smoke grenade” into the audience.
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He said people attempted to escape the building but the emergency exits were locked. Security guards also did not know how to operate the fire extinguishers.
He added: “In a country, where street Nazis have become police officers, no one will investigate a crime, committed by the far-right. One hand washes the other.”
It happened during a screening of the French film Les Nuits d’été, as part of an LGBT program at the Molodist youth film festival.
Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko has promised the cinema will be rebuilt.
He said: “The arson of the premise, which became a subject of debate and legal battles in recent years, can’t be ruled out.
“We won’t allow Zhovten, which became a symbol of intellectual cinema among the moviegoers in the capital, to be taken away from us.”
Despite a ban by a local court, more than a hundred LGBT rights activists held the first gay pride demonstration in the capital of Kyiv last year.
In a 2007 poll 5.7% of Ukrainians said that “gay lifestyles” were acceptable and only 4.7% of Ukrainians stated that they thought same-sex marriage in the country was a priority.
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