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On Wednesday, international cease-fire monitors recorded “high levels of armed violence” in the area, including hundreds of explosions throughout the day from weapons supposedly banned under the peace deal agreed to in Minsk last year.
Here, Slipak adopted Ukraine’s traditional, Mohawk-style haircut as well as the "Meph" — a nod to Mephistopheles’s aria from "Faust," the opera based on Goethe’s great play. As a deadly surge in violence left Ukraine’s fragile cease-fire in tatters, the 41-year-old opera singer was killed by a sniper and became yet another victim of this grinding war of attrition on Europe’s far-eastern fringes.Dressed in full camouflage, with his face covered, the soldier claimed that, at the time of the attack, he had no idea of the identity of his target. “From that distance you can't see the face.” His account contradicted Kiev's claims that Slipak was killed in a surprise attack and instead suggested that the separatists were already under a hail of fire from Ukrainian positions.Amid the thud of artillery and rattle of gunfire, Vasyl Slipak’s deep, resonant voice in the trenches of eastern Ukraine was a warm reminder of humanity’s less barbaric traits.The professional baritone had left his native Ukraine in the 1990s to settle in France, where he regularly sang at the Paris Opera.
He would occasionally serenade his fellow fighters, too. Slipak’s death near the rebel-held town of Debaltseve came as Russian-backed separatists launched a dawn assault involving artillery, mortars and heavy machine guns, with fire reportedly coordinated by aerial drones.The town had been the target of a devastating Russian-separatist offensive in February 2015 despite the recent signing of a second cease-fire.