KHERSON, Ukraine (Reuters) – When veteran Ukrainian circus director Vladyslav Holub realised in early March that Russian forces were approaching the city of Kherson, he and two other performers joined an elderly militia manning a checkpoint on the outskirts.
The decision was not a success. The Russian forces attacked, destroying his circus tent and a nearby mall and shooting him in the leg before taking him prisoner.
Holub, 47, admitted he was “freaking out” but then had a stroke of luck – his captors concluded he was a civilian and bandaged his leg.
“I told them, ‘I’m from the circus, here’s my trailer, let me crawl over there’. I crawled up to the trailer, and then in the morning, an ambulance came,” he said on Friday, a week after the Russian forces left Kherson.
After his bullet wound was patched up, he could not walk for two months. For the rest of the occupation, Holub laid low in the trailer, just beside the wrecked mall, with clown performer Ihor Mykhailov and a pet pigeon.
Now that he is free to leave Kherson, he soon plans to move to the southern city of Dnipro and look for work.
(Reporting by Joseph Campbell and Felix Hoske, editing by David Ljunggren and Chris Reese)
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