A male ballet dancer. An award-winning female actor. A biathlete. An actor who posted glamorous selfies on Instagram to his nearly 13,000 followers until he joined up and uploaded two final shots of himself looking stylish in camouflage.
These are some of the Ukrainian celebrities killed since Russia invaded Feb. 24. Their deaths add an extra dimension to the country’s shock and anguish over the war.
Artem Datsishin, one of Ukraine’s leading dancers and a former principal dancer with the National Opera of Ukraine, died Thursday at a hospital in the capital city of Kyiv. He had been wounded last month by Russian artillery fire, according to posts by two friends on social media.
Datsishin was a past winner of the prestigious Serge Lifar prize, named after a Ukrainian considered one of the 20th century’s most important ballet dancers and choreographers.
“I cannot express my heartache,” Tatiana Borovik said on Facebook, in a post that announced the date of Datsishin’s funeral.
Ukrainian actor Oksana Shvets was killed in a rocket attack on the capital, the Kyiv Post newspaper reported Thursday. Shvets was a member of the city’s Young Theater and had won the Merited Artist of Ukraine award in 1996. A photograph on the theater’s website shows her in costume onstage.
The war is reducing the distance between famous and ordinary Ukrainians because so many non-celebrities are making heroic sacrifices, said Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties. It has also made many people focus on issues of life and death that eclipse focus on fame.
“Prominent people do not use their privileged status to escape but to stand with the whole nation in this dramatic time,” Matviichuk said, although she added that what has shocked her most about the war has been the killing of children.
The International Biathlon Union mourned the death of a 19-year-old athlete, Yevhen Malyshev. It said in a Twitter post March 2 that he died while serving in the military. Biathlon is a sport combining cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.
Pasha Lee, an actor from Crimea, was killed in Irpin on Sunday, according to local journalists and the Odesa International Film Festival. The city, 15 miles northwest of Kyiv, has seen intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Lee, 33, worked in theater and cinema. He was also a television host, singer and composer.
Before the war, his Instagram feed reflected a glamorous lifestyle. One picture showed him on a yacht, another scuba diving, a third in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Lee joined Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces when the war began.
On March 1, he was pictured seated at a table in army fatigues and a beret. In his last Instagram post March 4 he is again in combat gear, this time seated next to a woman also in uniform. The caption says they were being bombed, adding that “we smile because we will manage.”
He died in shelling two days later.