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KYIV: Professional clown Serhii Shershun has swapped the big top for a checkpoint in Kyiv, and says Russia’s invasion is no laughing matter. More used to juggling and miming, the 50-year-old now totes a machine-gun as part of Ukraine’s huge mobilisation of civil defence volunteers.

“I am against the enemy coming to my land and killing my people, my friends, my children, and the women — it’s not right,” he tells AFP.

Going by the professional name of ShiSh, Shershun says his wife is also a clown while his sons are taking up the trade as well, one as a juggler and the other at circus school.

“We were on tour, we lived a peaceful life, we made people happy, and suddenly… it stopped,” says Shershun, wearing camouflage trousers instead of baggy clown pants, a blue jacket and a rakishly askew baseball cap.

At a sandbag-and-concrete checkpoint in the capital, Shershun jokingly complains that his shoulders hurt from carrying one of the heavier weapons in the group.

His crew of armed civil defence volunteers stop each passing car to check people’s identification and look inside the trunk.

What they are looking for: Russian spies and “saboteurs” that Ukraine fears will carry out attacks or mark targets for strikes by Moscow.

“Why did I come? Because I had to. I can’t explain in words – it is a satanic hatred” towards the invading Russian forces, he says.

Kyiv’s checkpoints boast a motley crew of civil defence volunteers wearing army fatigues mixed with sweatshirts, caps and beanies, sunglasses and rifles.

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