Russian occupiers destroy memorial of Ukrainian opera singer who died defending his country

13 July 2022, 13:06 | Updated: 13 July 2022, 15:07

Opera singers perform to cheer up resistance in Odesa amid Russian invasion of Ukraine

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

A memorial dedicated to Ukrainian baritone Vasyl Yaroslavovych Slipak has been destroyed by Russian occupiers.

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Vasyl Yaroslavovych Slipak was a Ukrainian operatic baritone who died in 2016, aged 41, after being shot by a sniper in Donetsk Oblast, Eastern Ukraine.

Slipak was an international performer, and his career took him to France after graduating from the Lviv Conservatory in Ukraine, where he performed at venues including the Paris Opera and Opéra Bastille.

The opera singer returned to Ukraine in 2014 to take part in protests, and one year later signed up to fight with the 7th Battalion of the Volunteer Ukrainian Corps of the Right Sector against pro-Russian separatists.

After the Donbass war, he had planned to return to Paris to continue his opera career.

Posthumously, Slipak was awarded the title of ‘Hero of Ukraine’, the highest national title that can be conferred upon an individual citizen by the Ukrainian President.

A monument celebrating his life and sacrifice was erected near the village of Mironovsky however, the memorial was destroyed earlier this week by Russian occupiers.

Read more: 17-year-old violinist ‘left in limbo’ in Russian-occupied Ukraine as UK changes travel policy

In a video, originally posted by Petro Andriushchenko, the adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, on Telegram, a group of at least four men are seen dismantling the memorial. The men rip the granite cross from the base, taking the upper section away into a van, while pushing and kicking the base of the memorial off a hill.

The vandalism happened just days after the anniversary of Slipak’s death.

This is the second time Slipak’s memorial has been destroyed since the war broke out when Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year.

The Russian broadsheet, Pravda, reported the destruction of Slipak’s memorial on 7 March. It was later restored by the Soldiers of the 30th Separate Mechanized Brigade named after Prince Konstantin Ostrozky; the same soldiers and volunteers who first erected the monument.

Цинічна поведінка засланців окупанта не перестає вражати. Неподалік н.п Луганське Донецької області спостерігаємо...

Posted by 30 окрема механізована бригада ім. князя Костянтина Острозького on Monday, March 7, 2022

Slipak’s call sign during his time in the military was ‘Mif’, a reference to his favourite aria (for the character Mephistopheles) from the opera Faust by Charles Gounod.

Twitter commentators have been quick to note that while the opera singer’s memorial can be desecrated, his musical legacy lives on regardless.

Watch Slipak perform Mephistopheles’ aria from Gounod’s Faust below.

Wassyl Slipak Le veau d'or Mephisopheles Faust Gounod