Accessibility links

Friends, Family Mourn Talented Ukrainian Playwright Killed In Moscow Bombing

Anna Yablonska "combined a very high emotionality with an extremely sharp, sober intellect."

Anna Yablonska "combined a very high emotionality with an extremely sharp, sober intellect."

As Russia mourns the 35 victims of the bombing attack at Moscow's Domodedovo airport, theater lovers are sparing a special thought for Anna Yablonska, a young Ukrainian poet and playwright killed in the blast.

Yablonska, a native of Odesa, had arrived in the Russian capital to pick up a literary prize when a presumed suicide bomber detonated explosives at the airport's crowded arrivals terminal, sparking scenes of carnage.

She was 29 years old.

Yablonska was due to receive a prize by the "Cinema Art" magazine at a ceremony in Moscow just hours after her plane landed at Domodedovo.

The editor of "Cinema Art," Daniil Dondurei, says she had been in high spirits that day.

"She called at 4 p.m. after landing. She was worried about not making it for 6:30 p.m.," Dondurei says. "The head of our selection board spoke to her. She was cheerful. She died 20 minutes later."

Charmed The Jury

Her colleagues describe Yablonska, whose real name was Anna Mashutina, as an up-and-coming playwright whose plays had won numerous literary awards and were staged in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.

Dondurei says her latest play, "The Pagans," had charmed the jury, and she had won the competition hands down.

Theater producer Mikhail Ugarov, who knew Yablonska well and attended the January 24 award ceremony, says organizers became concerned after she failed to turn up at the ceremony and stopped answering her phone.

"Panic erupted at the ceremony," Ugarov says. "They waited for her until the last moment and ended up awarding her the prize in absentia. At that time, she was already dead."

Yablonska's husband called her colleagues and friends later that evening to inform them she had been killed in the attack at Domodedovo.

Ugarov says she will be sorely missed in Russia.
A ceremony was held on January 26 at Domodedovo airport in remembrance of those killed.

"She was a very talented, bright person. She combined a very high emotionality with an extremely sharp, sober intellect," he says. "The professional community is deeply shocked because everyone liked her. She was friendly. She liked sharing ideas and helped other playwrights with advice."

Ominous Feeling

Yablonska's fame had started spreading beyond the former Soviet Union. The Royal Court Theater in London plans a reading of "The Pagans" in April.

The play tells the story of a young woman who slowly regains a taste for life after a failed suicide attempt. Although her work largely focused on the difficulty of human relations, particularly between close relatives, her writing was often humorous.

Her friends say Yablonska, who leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter, may have had an ominous feeling ahead of her flight to Moscow.

On December 21, she wrote in her LiveJournal blog: "It seems to me that I have very little time left."
  • 16x9 Image

    Claire Bigg

    Claire Bigg covers Russia, Ukraine, and the post-Soviet world, with a focus on human rights, civil society, and social issues. Send story tips to​


Show comments