Unknown man threw a smoke grenade into the audience
The oldest cinema in the Ukranian capital went up in flames on Wednesday night during the screening of a LGBTI film after a smoke grenade was thrown into the audience.
The fire broke out at 21:41 and raged for five hours until it was put out by 22 fire department units, according to the State Emergency Service.
None of the 100 people at the screening were hurt, but the Zhovten cinema, built in 1931, was badly damaged.
‘The film had been playing for 20 minutes already when people in back rows shouted: “Smoke!”‘ festival coordinator Aleksey Chaschin said.
Filmgoer Yevhen Zelman wrote on Facebook that an unknown man tossed an ‘incendiary smoke grenade’ into the audience.
He said people started to run but the emergency exits were locked and the cashiers and security guards did not know how to use the fire extinguishers.
Alexei Blyuminov wrote on Facebook that the reason for the arson attack was obvious considering an LGBTI film was showing.
‘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,’ he said.
The French film Les Nuits d’été (Summer Nights) was showing as part of an LGBTI program at the Molodist youth film festival.
Other said the attack was caused by an ongoing legal dispute between the cinema and the building owners, who want to evict them.
Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko promised the cinema would be rebuilt.
‘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,’ he said.
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