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NYT’s and the Telegram Application April 22, 2022

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Metaphor Online , comments closed

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — Staff Sgt. Leonid Kuznetsov of the Ukrainian National Guard is running out of time.

He and his comrades holding out in the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol have only light weapons — machine guns, pistols — to defend themselves against Russian tanks, jets and artillery. They are holed up in a small, reinforced-cement bunker with peeling blue paint on the walls and about two meters of earth over their heads.

Even if the shelling that has been their constant companion for weeks comes to end with Vladimir V. Putin’s order on Thursday to end the assault on the factory, the Russian president’s decision to blockade the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance “so that no fly can escape” could be a death sentence.

“I’m alive and healthy for now, but the situation is very difficult,” said Sergeant Kuznetsov, who is 25. “We’re at the end of our food and water. We have about 1,000 civilians at the factory. I can’t say how many soldiers we have. There are many, many wounded and not enough medicine. The smallest injury can be fatal; there are not even simple bandages.”

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A Ukrainian family arrives in Zaporizhzhia after fleeing Russian-occupied Mariupol in Eastern Ukraine, Monday.
A Ukrainian family arrives in Zaporizhzhia after fleeing Russian-occupied Mariupol in Eastern Ukraine, Monday.Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

The Russian military’s destruction of Mariupol will be recorded in history as one of the singular calamities of Mr. Putin’s disastrous war in Ukraine. A vivacious seaside town of about half a million people has been turned to a charred and pockmarked hellscape, the bodies of soldiers, civilians and their pets littering the once leafy avenues.

On Thursday, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, announced to Mr. Putin that the ruined city was now fully under Russian control, save for the besieged steel plant. There are few buildings left standing and most of the city’s residents, those who have not been killed in weeks of nearly incessant shelling, have fled.

A convoy of yellow buses carrying the latest evacuees arrived here in Zaporizhzhia, northwest of Mariupol, after a harrowing all-night drive through checkpoints manned by jumpy Russian soldiers. They described cold, hunger and weeks living in basements. Days were broken up only by quick dashes to the surface to cook paltry meals on open fires in the courtyard, amid never ending shelling.

“In the city everything is destroyed, it’s terrifying,” said Matvei Popko, a 10-year-old who traveled in the convoy to Zaporizhzhia with his mother, father and grandmother. “At any moment your home could get hit and collapse. For a little more than a month we lived in the basement.”

The zone of Ukrainian control in Mariupol has narrowed to suffocating bunkers under the steel plant like the one where Sergeant Kuznetsov and his fellow soldiers remain, running out of everything, including reserves of hope.

“We’re hoping for help,” he said. “If we don’t get it, we won’t make it out of this factory. We will die here with weapons in our hands defending Ukraine.”

Sergeant Kuznetsov communicated with a reporter by text using the chat app Telegram, and sent a short video of himself sitting in the bunker with a few fellow soldiers nearby. He has an internet connection thanks to Starlink, the satellite internet provider created by Elon Musk.

Video

Cinemagraph
Sergeant Kuznetsov inside the Azovstal steel plant.CreditCredit…new york times

Sergeant Kuznetsov chose to join the military after college because he thought that was what a man was supposed to do, his wife, Maria Kuznetsova said in an interview. “It’s his character,” she said. “He thinks that a man must serve to protect his family.”

Ms. Kuznetsova, 23, said she met her future husband when they were students at Mariupol State University. They married a few years later and now have a year-old son named David. Sergeant Kuznetsov served for three years, then retired in December and filed an application to become a police officer.

Then, on Feb. 24, the war broke out.

Ms. Kuznetsova said she repeatedly begged her husband not to rejoin the military, and initially thought she had talked him out of it.

“It’s difficult to let your beloved man go,” she said. “But every day he talked about it, and then quickly gathered up his things and went.”

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Sergeant Kuznetsov with his son, David, and wife, Maria Kuznetsova.
Sergeant Kuznetsov with his son, David, and wife, Maria Kuznetsova.Credit…Maria Kuznetsova

Sergeant Kuznetsov said he was posted to different regions in the city before eventually being assigned to the Azovstal steel plant. For weeks it served as both a military base and a refuge for the families of soldiers and steel workers, as Ukrainian defenders in other parts of the city were killed or forced to retreat.

With no one else left to fight, Russian forces turned their entire might against the factory in recent days, pummeling it day and night with airstrikes, artillery and rockets.

Sergeant Kuznetsov said more than 500 people were suffering from various injuries and there were many, many dead. A number of people sheltering inside have been killed by cave-ins caused by the shelling, he said.

He estimated that he and his fellow soldiers could hold out for another day, perhaps two.

“I ask the whole world to do everything possible to stop the military aggression against independent Ukraine,” he said. “Punish everyone who is responsible for the military action on our territory.”

Ms. Kuznetsova accused the Ukrainian government of abandoning the troops left in the factory complex, though rescuing them would require resources Ukraine can ill afford to spare as its army tries to withstand a new Russian offensive in the east.

Surrender to the Russian forces, Ms. Kutnetsova said, was also out of the question. “It’s a big risk. They could just shoot him.”

Ms. Kuznetsova was able to evacuate with their son on March 20 and is now living in the relative safety of western Ukraine.

As of Thursday evening, Sergeant Kuznetsov had not responded to additional questions. His wife said she had been unable to reach him as well. When last they spoke, on Wednesday, she said he had made it clear that the situation was dire.

“He has no way out,” she said. “He hopes that everything will turn out all right, but he told me to be prepared for any outcome.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Fighters: An Australian Humanitarian en route to Ukraine. Photos Bohdan Warchomij April 20, 2022

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Antonia Hitchen’s opening words in her article for the New York Review of Books “Among Ukraine’s Foreign Fighters” stopped me in my tracks.
“At a barbecue restaurant in Lviv called Meat and Justice,…Ukrainian and Russian casualties are tallied daily on the front door…”

The perfect intro to her story  about fighters and volunteers making their way to Ukraine to fight in the foreign legion of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Force.

“When President Zelensky announced this idea, many found this invitation compelling…”

The fist volunteer she introduces is Andrew  and Antonia has met him and many others online, dressed in camouflage and chatting to each other online

and asking for advice and swapping tips about how to get into Ukraine and discussing the concept of fighting invading Russians and questioning how to fire Stinger rockets.

“I never understood how people got so moved by the Spanish Civil War, but now I can intuit it,’ another  said to Antonia.

Propelled by a sense of solidarity and a moral cause and an unjust war they felt a need to be in Ukraine just like the volunteers in Spain.

Ironically in Spain they were fighting fascists, which is Putin’s rationale in invading Ukraine, to ‘denazify’ a country which has a Jewish President,

in fact an inspiring Jewish President who is a Ukrainian nationalist.

He is on his nation’s television screens daily

and on the screens of democratic parliament’s with a daily plea for arms comparative to Russia’s better equipped army.

With western arms he insists that the war would have been over by now.

Antonia Hitchens  has done her homework well.

She met Belarusians at the Belarusian Foundation of Warsaw who had left Lukashenko’s and their country behind

in the aftermath of repression in 2020.  So many of them, that they have their own battalion fighting in Kyiv.

Pavel, a mixed martial arts fighter interviewed by by Antonia who offered to fight in Donbas in 2016 and offered the following quote to her.

“Ukraine feels like a second home to me nw. There are the Belarusian people, and then there is Lukashenko. They are two different things.

The Belarusian people stand up for their brothers of Ukraine. I understand the same sense of what they feel there right now. We have a vendetta. We want revenge.”

After reaching the border crossing in Medyka in Southeastern Poland Antonia Hitchens reached Lviv and met with Georgian Legion Commander Mamuka Mamulashvili

which formed in Donbas in 2014  to fight the Russians there. He has fought against the Russians in Georgia before and said to her.

“Georgians  have a lot of experience of facing Russian aggression.”

I’ve just met my first Australian volunteer called Michael Robert, who is flying to Ukraine via Poland tomorrow night,

who told me. “I am not a military man. I just couldn’t watch it any more.

The invasion of a peaceful country. Targeting of  maternity hospitals and civilians.

I couldn’t just and watch. I felt the need to help. I want to volunteer. Whatever needs to be done.”

He doesn’t want to fight the Russians. He wants to contribute humanitarian aid.

He was born in Balga, a suburb of Perth, and lives nearby in Girrawheen, another suburb. On the front of his house he has a Ukrainian flag with a hand painted sign with the words WE STAND WITH UKRAINE”

He has never travelled outside Australia, and he is heading overseas for the first time for a country that is a bona fide war zone,

where he has a couple of contacts, but no knowledge of the Ukrainian language,

or even of the geography of the country. He knows of the immorality of this war,

and of the genocide that has been committed  by Russian soldiers, and of the courage

of the nation in defence of its borders. What he feels is a moral pressure to be be there to help in any way he can.

His son is old enough to understand what his father is committing to.

Michael has three children and separated from the mother of his children.

The eldest is a boy of twelve, and the younger two are girls, one eight and the younger four.
It must be a difficult decision to make and an uncertain one.

He has a new friend in his life and it must be difficult to leave her

but he has a sense of purpose and has had help with purchasing

airline tickets.

His tattoos ascribe his journey in life and he wears a cross around

his neck denoting his intense spirituality.

He will need a spiritual guide on his incredibly brave journey.

 

The New York Times BUCHA UKRAINE Photos Daniel Berehuliak April 14, 2022

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Daniel Berehuliak

Personal Message to Daniel Berehuliak: It is with sadness I respond to your photos that document the genocide in Bucha and to Carlotta Gall’s story of this horrific humanitarian disaster.
Thank you both for your courage and for contributing to the world’s knowledge of the situation in Ukraine. And to the defenders  of Ukraine: Героям слава, Слава Україні

Photo Daniel Berehuliak

As the Russian advance on Kyiv stalled in the face of fierce resistance, civilians said, the enemy occupation of Bucha slid into a campaign of terror and revenge.
When a defeated and demoralized Russian Army finally retreated, it left behind a grim tableau: bodies of dead civilians strewn on streets, in basements or in backyards, many with gunshot wounds to their heads, some with their hands tied behind their backs.

Daniel Berehuliak

Russian soldiers set up in a school. A sniper in a high-rise fired at anybody who moved. Other soldiers tortured, raped and executed civilians in basements or backyards.
We visited Bucha, documented dozens of killings of civilians, interviewed scores of witnesses and followed local investigators to uncover the scale of Russian atrocities.
A mother killed by a sniper while walking with her family to fetch a thermos of tea. A woman held as a sex slave, naked except for a fur coat and locked in a potato cellar before being executed.

Daniel Berehuliak

Two sisters dead in their home, their bodies left slumped on the floor for weeks.
Bucha is a landscape of horrors.
From the first day of the war, Feb. 24, civilians bore the brunt of the Russian assault on Bucha, a few miles west of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. Russian special forces approaching on foot through the woods shot at cars on the road, and a column of armored vehicles fired on and killed a woman in her garden as they drove into the suburb.
But those early cruelties paled in comparison to what came after.
Reporters and photographers for The New York Times spent more than a week with city officials, coroners and scores of witnesses in Bucha, uncovering new details of execution-style atrocities against civilians. The Times documented the bodies of almost three dozen people where they were killed — in their homes, in the woods, set on fire in a vacant parking lot — and learned the story behind many of their deaths. The Times also witnessed more than 100 body bags at a communal grave and the city’s cemetery.
The evidence suggests the Russians killed recklessly and sometimes sadistically, in part out of revenge.
Please read the heart breaking story by Carlotta Gall. Photographs Daniel Berehulak for @nytimes

Sony World Photography Awards Jan Grarup Documentary Winner April 13, 2022

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Jan Grarup’s work is a winner in the Sony World Photography Documentary Awards: the video by the organisation is presented by Johanna Grarup and highlights the achievements of the winning photographers in their respective categories.
https://www.worldphoto.org/ceremony-2022

The Children of the Financial Collapse in Venezuela by Jan Grarup

More than 8.5 million people in Colombia urgently need help. The financial collapse in Venezuela has left many with no access to emergency aid, shelter, clean drinking water or food. Children pay the highest price.

Jan Grarup

Photo Jan Grarup

Photo Jan Grarup

Photo Jan Grarup

Peter Pomarantsev: Putin’s Lack of Knowledge of the Ukrainian People. Article excerpts fromThe Economist. April 11, 2022

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Financial Review, Metaphor Images, Metaphor Online, Russian War in Ukraine , comments closed

“I was born in Kyiv in 1977 to Ukrainian parents. My family was exiled from the Soviet Union when I was nine months old, after my father, a poet, was arrested by the KGB for the heinous crime of distributing copies of books by Solzhenitsyn and Nabokov to friends.” Peter Pomarantsev THE ECONOMIST.

Australian Activist in Indépendance Square MAIDAN Photo Bohdan Warchomij

We all have stories and sometimes fantasies of our connection with Ukraine. My parents met in Berlin post WWII and made love and produced children in displaced persons’ camps and then applied for refuge in USA, Argentina and Australia. They lost children on the way to Australia. Ihor in childbirth in Berlin and Maria, my two year old sister on the ANA SALEN en route to Melbourne Australia. My parents jumped ship in Perth because Maria was buried in Karrakatta and my mother couldn’t bare the thought of separation from her child. So we grew up in Perth, Bohdan, a new Ihor, Ostap and finally Jaroslava, a girl to succeed Maria. I learnt Ukrainian, and Polish from my neighbours and had never heard a word of English before heading to the primary school in Morley where we lived on an acre of land. I heard my father’s version of Ukrainian history and his personal story. He fought with the Polish Army against the Germans on horseback and spent time in a POW camp before being sent to fight the Russians with the  Ukrainian Nightingale Division on the Russian Front. A bullet wound repatriated him to the relative safety of post World War Berlin and he met my mother there. Nationalism and politics was a driving force  in his life and I lived in his shadow and his knowledge of the repressors of the Ukrainian nation. The Moskaly or Muscovites received a bad rap from my father and I studied English at University and listened to the music of Ukrainian national musician Volodymyr Ivasiuk and his famous song Chervona Ruta and the poet Vasyl Symonenko (Ukrainian: Василь Андрійович Симоненко; January 8, 1935 – December 13, 1963) was a well-known Ukrainian poet, journalist, activist of the dissident movement. He is considered one of the most important figures in Ukrainian literature of the early 1960s. His membership of the dissident movement influenced me and no doubt many young Ukrainians who coped with the repression of the Russian Soviet Leadership until it became part of their DNA. The first sniff of Ukrainian Independence in the 1990′s was a revelation and I travelled to Ukraine and around the country in a friend’s Lada exploring my heritage and coming to terms with the novelty of Ukrainian freedom, something I thought I would never see in my lifetime. I have been back many times, documenting the Orange Revolution in 2004, Chornobyl Nuclear Reactor in 2007, the death of all aboard Malaysia’s airliner MH17 in 2014 near Torres in the Donbas and like the rest of the world witnessing an immoral war from a war criminal hiding in a bunker in Moscow.

Ukrainian Demonstration

I am dismayed by this blatant misreading of the Ukrainian nation by Putin and am including part of Pomarantsev’s story from the reading in The Economist to balance the rhetoric and the evil propaganda coming from the Kremlin where Putin has ensconced himself with a fake rendition of Ukrainian history and a poor understanding of the history of his own nation. Ignorance they say is bliss and Putin’s ignorance is supreme.

Illustration: Noma Bar

PETER POMARANTSEV:

“It’s easy to see why Ukraine confuses people. To the uninformed outsider, it confounds all ideas of what makes a nation. Most people are casually bilingual. It contains many histories simultaneously: the Russian, Soviet and Austro-Hungarian empires, Poland, Romania and, of course, Ukraine itself. This lattice of historical narratives has made many in the West feel as though the country is not quite real.

Now people are more clued up. The world has found its hero nation. Its Jewish president, a one-time comedian who matured into a younger, more empathetic Churchill. The elderly women taunting Russian soldiers. The hipsters picking up machine guns. The distraught yet articulate mothers with their sparkling children sheltering underground. The beauty blogger on Instagram bombed in a maternity ward.

Ukrainians have reminded us what freedom means – a word that for many in rich democracies had long ago curdled into platitudes. The resilience of the population has impressed the West and surprised the Kremlin. It shouldn’t have. For the past few years I’ve been trying to unlock the secret of Ukrainian identity by talking to Ukrainians. Through my research project, Arena, based originally at the lse and now at Johns Hopkins University, I’ve worked with Ukrainian journalists and sociologists to find ways of strengthening democracy. My team has interviewed thousands of adults across the country. Our fieldwork shows that the response to Russia’s invasion has deep roots in Ukrainian history.

Bucha genocide Daniel Berehuliak for the NYT

I was born in Kyiv in 1977 to Ukrainian parents. My family was exiled from the Soviet Union when I was nine months old, after my father, a poet, was arrested by the kgb for the heinous crime of distributing copies of books by Solzhenitsyn and Nabokov to friends.

Yet I never thought of myself as particularly Ukrainian. I grew up in London speaking Russian and was regarded as “the Russian” by my schoolmates. I first visited Ukraine when I was 18, and I was astounded: the sweeping Soviet avenues backing into hills with wild woods; the smells of beer and pyrizhky (stuffed buns) wafting between pastel-coloured, art-nouveau apartment blocks; the river so broad it feels almost like a sea. Kyiv is a city of shrugs that never takes itself too seriously. It is made for strolling through and kissing in. People switch languages so rhythmically your ears are lulled by sing-song waves of Russian and Ukrainian. When I visited in the fourth week of the war, the city was empty. The tension was occasionally torn by the scream of sirens. But it was more beautiful than ever. The elegant buildings were easier to see in absence of people and cars, and the threat of imminent destruction made the streets seem all the more precious.

In 2014 Putin’s forces invaded and occupied the country’s easternmost fringe, after the Maidan unseated as president his kleptocratic ally Viktor Yanukovych. Putin claimed that he was defending ethnic Russians. It felt like an attack not just on my friends, family and a country I had been getting to know, but also on a cosmopolitan way of living and thinking.

My work turned towards Ukraine and the Kremlin’s information war. The Russian government’s aim was to divide and weaken the country in order, it now seems clear, to prepare the ground for invasion. Russian state media, online troll farms and, perhaps most perniciously, the gaggle of immensely rich pro-Russian oligarchs combined to undermine democratic reforms, smear the West and fracture Ukraine’s sense of unity.

As we were pursuing our research, through polling, focus groups and in-depth interviews, the Kremlin’s secret services were conducting theirs, looking for Ukraine’s vulnerabilities. We always felt like we were in a race to understand Ukrainians better. Our team started by trying to understand their attitudes to history. To validate his invasions, Putin has called the Ukrainian government “Nazis” and described the invasion as an act of “denazification”. The slur is absurd but also strategic. Some prominent Ukrainian nationalists sided with the Nazis in the second world war because they thought Hitler would grant Ukraine independence; a number of them were comfortable with the Nazis’ anti-Semitism. When Hitler betrayed them, many turned on the Germans and fought against both them and the Soviet Union. In Soviet post-war propaganda, Ukrainian nationalists were caricatured as the fascist enemy of the good Soviet citizen. Anyone who grew up steeped in that milieu is receptive to this framing.

 

Illustration Noma Bar

Putin and his supporters have tried to split the country between a supposed pro-Soviet east and pro-nationalist west. However, our polling found this split to be a mirage. There were at least four distinct groups. The Ukrainians who were most pro-Soviet were older, often pensioners, and less educated, living largely in rural areas in the south and east of the country. A tiny proportion of the population, less than 5%, approved of Stalin (the equivalent figure in Russia is 70%). The memory of the Holodomor, Stalin’s man-made famine which killed roughly 4m Ukrainians in 1932-33, still burns.

Another group was younger and better educated, and lived in large cities in the south and east such as Odessa and Kharkiv. The attitude of these people to the Soviet Union was more nuanced. Although they were critical of its repression, they tended to be nostalgic for the supposed social “values” of the communist past and harboured negative attitudes towards Ukrainian nationalists who fought against the Red Army in the second world war.

The group that most disliked the Soviet Union were the educated middle classes in cities in central and western Ukraine. Comprising a third of the population, these people were more likely to admire Stepan Bandera, a leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement in the second world war who first sided with the Nazis and then fell out with them.

Bandera is, to put it mildly, a complex figure. He was inspired by Italian fascism but spent most of the war imprisoned by the Nazis. Many of his supporters during the second world war were ardent anti-Semites. Paradoxically we found that today, liberals who believed that anyone could be Ukrainian regardless of their background thought of him in the most positive light. They admired him for standing up to the tyrants of Moscow, rather than for his ethno-nationalist beliefs.

The splits were typical of the divide between liberal cities and the socially conservative countryside found in many European countries – but they did not equate to political preferences. The vast majority of people across Ukraine had a similar vision of the future: they wanted a culture of inclusive nationalism within the European Union.

When we put Soviet nostalgics in a room with Ukrainian patriots, there were plenty of disagreements over whether it was right to tear down Soviet-era statues or whether Bandera was an admirable figure. Yet we also found that people were quick to accommodate each other’s perspectives. “If someone needs a statue of Bandera, let them have one,” a woman from eastern Ukraine told us.

 

Ukrainians are not just fighting against this invasion, but all the other times their country has been violated

Both groups seemed aware that politicians were always trying to split the country and were wary of being manipulated. “There is no separation, we are united. We are just separated by an information war,” said one contributor. We held our focus groups just after Volodymyr Zelensky was elected in April 2019: he drew on dissatisfaction with the politics of polarisation to win a resounding 70% of the vote. His tv career evoked Soviet-era acting styles and comedy references, but he had a capitalist appreciation for entrepreneurship. During the campaign, Zelensky was accused by opponents of being ideologically vague and reluctant to talk about history. Perhaps this was part of his attraction: he embodied a profound Ukrainian tradition of knowing how to get along with people whose story differs from your own.

Our research showed that Ukraine had a culture of live and let live. The supposedly pro-Russian cities of Kharkiv and Odessa pride themselves on their cosmopolitanism. In the west, apparently nationalist cities such as Lviv have always echoed with a cacophony of tongues and churches. Ukrainians are accustomed to switching between codes and languages. They are united by knowledge of their differences.

When we began talking about more recent history, disagreements about statues of Lenin and second-world-war partisans rapidly melted away. Participants tried to find the words to describe life in the late Soviet period: their experiences of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl; memories of seeing relatives sent off to war in Afghanistan; the economic deprivation and confusion of the 1990s. The struggle to make sense of these events was hard, because people often avoided discussing them. “My family hasn’t talked about it [the Soviet period] at all,” one participant admitted. People would sometimes switch to the passive as they spoke, a sign of how little agency they felt about their country’s recent history, using such phrases as “when independence happened to us”.

Ukrainians have been oppressed by the Habsburgs, the Russian Empire, the Poles, the Nazis and the Soviet Union. Even Czechoslovakia once snaffled a slice of western Ukraine. Ukrainian oligarchs have acted like another set of exploitative colonisers since independence in 1991. In the 20th century alone, some 14m people are believed to have been killed in Ukraine through purges, famine and the Holocaust. Timothy Snyder, a historian, calls this region the “Bloodlands”. The term “genocide” was invented by a lawyer from Lviv.

“The Ukrainian choice is the choice between a non-existence and an existence that kills you”, wrote Oksana Zabuzhko in “Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex” (1996), a novel about how trauma is passed down from generation to generation. The protagonist is a Ukrainian writer caught in an abusive love affair. “We were raised by men fucked from all ends every which way,” she writes. This, in turn, leads to a pattern of abusive relationships where self-loathing men take their anger out on women. It’s an allegorical work: the couple’s relationship represents a country where the history of oppression permeates everything from art to relationships.

National myths coalesce around a collective: the Cossacks, bands of self-governing warriors who roamed the steppe

That history of violence and humiliation has led Ukrainians to think conspiratorially. Over two-thirds of people we talked to for our study reckoned that “secret organisations” greatly influence political decisions. Such attitudes are understandable but damaging. Even in the days leading up to February 24th, many members of the Ukrainian elite thought that American warnings of an imminent Russian invasion were secretly a means to push the country into making concessions. They didn’t take Putin’s intentions seriously until the last minute.

Because rulers have historically been colonising powers, Ukrainians have little trust in government. Zelenksy’s popularity began to drain from the moment he came to power (before the war his approval rating was just 30%). This lack of respect for authority means that Ukrainians can energetically overthrow rulers, as they did in 2004 and 2014. But it also makes it hard to build an effective bureaucracy. The state is seen as something that needs to be avoided or that can be used for personal gain. Corruption is the grease that makes things work. Courts are captured by anyone who can pay. This attitude infuriates reformers and western donors like the eu. Even when the government does manage to build new infrastructure, people talk about these achievements as though they happened almost magically. Ukrainians simply can’t conceive of the state doing anything successfully.

The Russian secret services seem to have thought this mindset was a fatal weakness: according to the Royal United Services Institute, a British think-tank, the Kremlin based its invasion plans on surveys that predicted Ukrainian support for the government would collapse after an invasion. But there is a flipside to all this distrust. People have learnt to rely on each other. Ukrainians pride themselves on resilience and cunning. They have always found ways to self-organise. Trust in civil society, in local churches and small-business associations is high. There are also less savoury associations: football hooligans, petty gangsters and far-right militias who formed regiments to fight in the Donbas after 2014. Calamity has forced people to club together. “Disaster and grief unite us,” people would say when we asked. Many of our interviewees spoke about how, in 2014, activists took it upon themselves to feed, clothe and provide transport for Ukraine’s decrepit army.

Ukrainian myths of national identity coalesce around a collective: the Cossacks, bands of self-governing warriors who roamed the steppe. A recent successful film told the story of how Ukrainian Jews and Crimean Tatars created underground networks to help each other in the second world war, to fight first the Nazis and then the kgb. One of the most popular Christmas films in Ukraine is “Home Alone”, which has a narrative that resonates with Ukraine’s story: a small country abandoned by the world’s parents, always attacked by bigger powers and having to improvise self-defence with anything that comes to hand.

In this war, Ukrainians are showing that they can resist one of their most frequent and violent abusers, the Kremlin. Among the friends I speak to there’s a sense that they are fighting not just against this invasion, but for all the other times Ukraine has been violated. Putin himself referred to the invasion as a rape: “You sleep my beauty, you’re going to have to put up with it anyway,” he told a stunned press pack during a session with the French president, Emmanuel Macron. In Lviv today you see posters of a woman in Ukrainian folk costume pushing a gun into Putin’s mouth: “I’m not your beauty,” she says.

Photo Bohdan Warchomij MAIDAN

 

We presented our latest research in Kyiv on Wednesday February 23rd. I joined over Zoom, and saw the sense of dread and anger settle over the room of bright young things. The next day the Russian tanks rolled in, scattering our team. Some have become temporary refugees. The journalists are reporting from the front lines. Others have taken up arms. Denys Kobzyn, our lead sociologist in Kharkiv, sent me a selfie with a machine gun draped over his shoulder.

Our work hasn’t stopped. We’re planning a multimedia oral-history project, to record people’s testimony of the bombings, the rape of women and the attacks on refugees, so that when the cameras leave we can still help Ukrainians to tell their story – in war-crimes tribunals, in films and plays, in books and exhibitions.

A curious answer emerged from our research last year about “what unites Ukrainians”. When we asked people when they felt most proud to be Ukrainian, they almost always remembered a moment of international recognition when they felt that Ukraine had been noticed. Often these were tiny things: a Ukrainian child winning an international maths competition; a foreigner mentioning to them on holiday that they knew where Ukraine was.

At the time I thought this yearning was essentially about identity, a desire to be known. In Zabuzhko’s “Fieldwork of Ukrainian Sex”, the heroine travels from one international literary seminar to the next, impelled to prove that Ukrainian is a living language, and exhausted by the need to constantly answer the question “Ukraine? Where’s that?” Now I realise this desire to be seen is not just about identity; it’s also about security. Being seen by the world means that there is less chance that you will get killed. ■

Peter Pomerantsev directs the Arena project at Johns Hopkins University and is the author of “This is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality”. You can read the rest of 1843 magazine’s coverage of the war, here

Ukrainian Graphic

illustrations: noma bar

 

Pete Schmigs Ukrainian journalist Sydney reports from Warsava Poland March 31, 2022

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Arrived late in Warsaw and spent time on the tasks that go with working on an overseas project: getting electrical adapters; stocking breakfast food for the days when that will be the only meal; making sure cameras and phones are charged…
The boredom of preparation and expectation soon to be replaced by the blur of purpose and execution.
It’s always risky to think that God’s talking to you. Too often that can be self-rationalising our choices, or arrogantly suggesting some special relationship that one might have compared to others.
But it makes sense to spot signs and to hear hints in context and surroundings. It helps us in fact to make sense.
At one end of my street here in Warsaw, a modern fashionable place, there is a big sign in Ukrainian and Polish of “We Are With You”. And everywhere else, as others have now noted, there are Ukrainian flags in windows and flying from buses, and blue-and-gold ribbons attached to sweaters of solidarity. Even the self-serve machines in KFC have added Ukrainian as a language in which to order.
I watched two young daughters of what was unmistakenly a refugee family being allowed the treat of KFC at the end of a day. Mum, in stylish leather pants, stood outside. She vaped. Her eyes were dark and looking into the busy street.
At her feet, a huge used blue IKEA bag filled with groceries and various items from a humanitarian give-away. Moisturiser, deodorant, dishwashing liquid, baby oil – all the unguents that keep us moving along normally.
At the other end of my street is a park and a statue dedicated to Ukraine’s national poet, Taras Shevchenko, who wrote of freedom and suffered from its denial by Russian czars. A reminder that what we see today in Ukraine is not one-off. That “the orcs” as they’re called in this war have invaded their neighbour at least once a century since the 13th century. That this struggle has been around for hundreds of years. It’s what Ukrainians do to prove they exist and to claim what is their’s.
At Shevchenko’s monument, the words are apt. They are about extending hands and hearts to the Kozak past so that we can renew our peaceful land.
Directly outside my building, there is another monument. Votive candles at its base. For the one hundred regular Poles summarily executed by the Nazis at that spot in August 1944 as one of many reprisals for the Warsaw Uprising. A horrible history that no doubt drives Poles’ commitment to the current cause.
As the Germans should have been retreating, the Red Army held up its advance just east of Warsaw. Stalin effectively chose to let the Germans regroup and lay waste to Warsaw and the Polish Home Army. Some 20,000 Poles needlessly died. Sadly, I can’t help think of Putin’s murder of Mariupol.
The Poles know what fascism looks like – and it’s not what hipster commentators in the West accuse some of their politicians of now. They know it must be fought – not trembled in fear before and then somehow accommodated. Not just Ukrainians, but the world should be grateful to the Poles for their current leadership while others cower.
Tomorrow at 0730, I will leave this street and these signs – whoever they may be from and whatever I choose to make them mean. Operation “Palyanytsya” has given me the opportunity to tag along with a supply shipment to the border and to learn on the job what and how it works with Ukrainians in need. I look forward to meeting the American and Ukrainian crew of medicos and military lads it’s put together – knowing that each of them will be more capable than this scribbler and washed-up political McGiver.
It will be a long day and, at our destination, I will no doubt see many whose lives have been reduced to that one used IKEA bag, or knapsack from Plast, or rolling suitcase with wonky wheels. Bundles of loss, maybe.
My body is older than ever, and it looks it and it feels it, but I am keen in the way I was in the 80s when I was a very small part of system that snuck support to Ukrainian dissidents in the USSR from its then borderlands. Indeed, many have done this before – resisted and renewed – and that gives strength to an old man with only a camera that is locked and loaded.

DANIEL BEREHULIAK Australian Ukrainian Photographer in IRPIN UKRAINE March 29, 2022 for the New York Times March 31, 2022

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Photo Daniel Berehuliak New York Times IRPIN UKRAINE

IRPIN, Ukraine — A stray dog accompanied Ukrainian fighters of the Odin Unit, as they took cover inside of a building after hearing incoming rounds, during a clearing-out operation of remaining Russian forces on March 29, 2022 in Irpin, Ukraine.
Creeping forward block by block, Ukrainian soldiers in a reconnaissance unit on Tuesday found signs of a retreating Russian army everywhere: a charred armored vehicle, abandoned body armor decorated with an orange and black St. George ribbon, a Russian military symbol, and the traditional blue-and-white striped underwear issued to Russian soldiers, cast aside in a forest.
What they did not encounter was the Russian army in any organized state. After a month of savage street fighting, one of the most pivotal battles in the war so far ended this week — at least for now — with an improbable victory in Irpin for Ukraine’s outgunned and outnumbered military. By Tuesday, Ukrainian forces had quashed any significant Russian resistance in this strategic outlying town near Kyiv, the capital.
Pockets of Russian soldiers remained, posing risks. A firefight erupted in the afternoon when Ukrainian soldiers destroyed a lone Russian armored personnel carrier in an otherwise empty neighborhood, according to a commander.
Text by Andrew Kramer
To read the full story: https://www.nytimes.com/…/ukraine-russia-kyiv-irpin.html

The Catastrophe of Mariupol March 31, 2022

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Officials from France’s Elyseé palace called the situation in the city “catastrophic” and added that “civilian populations must be protected and must leave the city if they wish to. They must have access to food aid, water and the medicines they need”.

“This extremely  degraded humanitarian situation is linked to the siege of the city by the Russian armed forces,” the statement said.

France, along with Turkey, Greece and several humanitarian groups, have presented the Russian president with a plan to evacuate the city.

Officials said that Mr Putin told Mr Macron that he will “think about” the proposal.

But will he?

Not if he is is consistent with his philosophy of exterminating Ukrainians who stand in his way.

In its readout of the call, the Kremlin appeared to suggest that Mr Putin has provided no such assurances.

Russian officials said Mr Putin told the French leader that “in order to resolve the difficult humanitarian situation in this city, Ukrainian nationalist militants must stop resisting and lay down their arms”.

The statement added that Mr Putin had given Mr Macron “detailed information about measures taken by the Russian military to provide emergency humanitarian assistance and ensure the safe evacuation” of civilians from the besieged south-eastern city. This somewhat dubious statement considering numerous failed attempts to set up humanitarian corridors out of the city point out Putin’s end game. Civilians as well as the soldiers defending them are collateral damage in Putin’s eyes. This a genocidal and immoral war game that Putin is compounding day by day. Territory at the expense of humanity.

 Ukraine has accused Russia of forcibly relocating thousands of people from Mariupol to Russian-held territory. Just another war crime?

The call followed claims by the mayor of Mariupol that thousands of people have been killed during the Russian bombardment of the port city.

Vadym Boychenko, who has been evacuated from the city, told the Reuters news agency that almost 5,000 people, including around 210 children, have been killed since Russian shelling began.

Matilda Bogner, the head of the UN human rights mission in Ukraine, told Reuters that she believes “there could be thousands of deaths, civilian casualties, in Mariupol”.

The International Red Cross humanitarian organisation has confirmed reports that one of its warehouses in the city has been hit by Russian shelling, telling the BBC that all supplies in the depot had already been distributed.

It added that it no longer has “a team on the ground” and therefore could not comment on potential extent of casualties or damage.

Humanitarian Fund Raiser for Ukraine Perth Concert Hall 27 3 2022 Photos Bohdan Warchomij March 28, 2022

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Rob Cowell

 

 

Tony Lennon addresses the Concert Hall audience

The Humanitarian Fund Raiser for Ukraine Perth Concert Hall 27 3 2022 organised by Rob Cowell and Irina Buesvska-Cowell with sponsorship from Tony Lennon and his wife Gwyneth and supported by media stories in the West Australian and the Subiaco Post was well attended by Perth music aficionados on a gloomy Perth afternoon. Sitting in the Hall with musicians on stage responding to a Peace initiative by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, with refugees in attendance from Ukraine, with young children performing at such a significant event, made one understand the consequences of war and the impact of politicians without moral parameters on the world we live in.

An 18 metre by 12 metre Ukrainian flag unveiled at Sculpture by the Sea at Cottesloe Beach and donated by Sculpture’s founder David Handley to Perth’s Ukrainian Association was suspended at the concert hall above the stage behind the performers.

Irina Buevska-Cowell’s 92 year old grandmother is trapped in a eighth floor Kharkiv apartment building, enduring the relentless bombing on a historic city that once was the capital of Ukraine and is now a target for total destruction. Irina graduated from the Kharkiv State Conservatorium of Music before continuing her studies at UWA in 2003. In the week leading up to the concert she found out that the Karkhiv Conservatorium had been bombed, with decades of history destroyed by a Russian bomb. Her grandmother is also in continuing danger from the ongoing attack on civilians throughout  Ukraine.

Akiko Miyazawa Photo Bohdan Warchomij

Ashley Smith Photo Bohdan Warchomij

Anna Bogachova Photo Bohdan Warchomij

The Concert for Ukraine featured singers Ashly Skye (member of Opera Australia) and Penny Shaw, violinist Akiko Miyazawa, cellist Michael Goldschlager, clarinetist Ashley Smith, and pianists Anna Bogachova and Anna Sleptsova. Ensemble music featured as well with Irina Buevska-Cowell performing with her children on violin and cello and a quartet of young girls performing a piece from the Erl King.

Photos Bohdan Warchomij

Saturday’s West Australian: John Flint has published a story on Irina Buevska-Cowell to promote a benefit concert at Perth Concert Hall for the Ukrainian Cause March 27, 2022

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Irina Buevska-Cowell photo Bohdan Warchomij

Saturday’s West Australian John Flint has published a story on Irina Buevska-Cowell to promote a benefit concert at Perth Concert Hall for the Ukrainian cause  on Sunday the 27th March 2022. Irina studied at  Kharkiv Conservatoire  and is a headline act at the 4pm concert  today. Photo by Bohdan Warchomij.