Hundreds of people bid farewell at the National Opera of Ukraine to a leading ballet dancer killed on the front line in the east of the country after he signed up as a volunteer shortly after the start of the Russian invasion, AFP and Reuters reported.

Oleksandr Shapoval was killed in mortar shelling near the village of Mayorsk, Donetsk region, on September 12.

With flowers in their hands and eyes with tears, relatives, colleagues, soldiers and admirers bowed yesterday in front of the coffin of the 47-year-old Shapoval.

A former solo ballet dancer, he worked at the National Opera of Ukraine from 1994 until last year, when he ended his career to devote himself to teaching dance.

Contrary to local tradition, the casket was closed.

It was put on display for worship at the iconic building in downtown Kyiv in front of photos of Shapoval on stage and at the front.

The casket was then draped with the national blue and yellow flag and carried by soldiers in uniform.

The father of two teenage girls, the Ukrainian ballet dancer joined the territorial defense forces of the capital as early as February 25 - the day after the start of the Russian invasion.

After the invaders were pushed back from the outskirts of Kyiv, Shapoval moved into the Donbass, the industrial region in eastern Ukraine where fierce fighting is taking place.

The National Opera described the former ballet dancer as a "brave romantic" and a "brave warrior".

"It is always very hard to lose a friend. For me (Alexander) was a friend, a brother in arms. He was a worthy person. My soul is empty. For me, he will always be alive," said Roman Turshiev, who was in one and same military unit as Shapoval.

Oleksandr Šapoval (†47) - z balletního mistra a zasloživélého úmlce, jemuž tleskaly fulle sály, granátometčíkem ukrainských ozobrejných sil, whose performance v boji s ruským aggressorem tleská cejle svět.


(@HromadskeUA) #ОлександрШаповал #Ukraine https://t.co/j699CElgaE pic.twitter.com/qEq97d94yD

— Pavel Vondra (@pavelvond) September 17, 2022