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The lost beauty of Mariupol

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Mariupol’s residents were in high spirits, commemorating the arrival of the Russians. It was September 2017 and children wearing 1940s fancy dress gathered by classic cars to mark the 74th anniversary of the Red Army’s liberation of the city from the Nazis in 1943.

Around them, plumes of water shot from a fountain as proud parents took photos and elderly couples strolled through the central, tree-lined plaza in the sun.

The city’s handsome theatre lay at one end of the square, with its neoclassical façade and bill of classic and contemporary plays.A short drive down the coast, the Second World War commemorations continued.

Young soldiers and veterans gathered on a sandy beach by the Azov Sea at the spot where Soviet troops had landed decades earlier to push back the German army.

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