A prominent Ukrainian ballet dancer who died this week fighting on the front lines of his country’s war against Russian invaders was honored with a memorial service at the National Opera of Ukraine on Saturday.
The National Opera described Oleksandr Shapoval as a “brave romantic” and a brave warrior who died under Russian mortar shells in eastern Ukraine on September 12 Mourners including soldiers from the unit de Shapoval, honor guards and members of Kyiv’s arts community, swarmed the opera hall, laying flowers on his coffin before it was wrapped in a blue and yellow Ukrainian flag.
Shapoval, 47, retired from a long career as a dancer at the National Opera last year and started teaching in Kyiv before joining a Home Guard to defend the capital after the February 24 Russian invasion . Later, he volunteered to join the army and fought in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, scene of some of the most intense fighting of the war.
“Losing a friend is always very difficult. For me he was a friend, a brother in arms. He was a very honest person. My soul is empty. For me he will always be alive,” said Roman Turshyiev , who fought alongside Shapoval in the same unit.
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