Many many minutes of silence would be needed to pay tribute to all of our fallen citizens and find the ability to speak after Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel, Borodyanka, Izyum, Mariupol… For us, Ukrainians, the world has changed and will never be the same as before. We ask you to remain silent with us – in memory of the hundreds of civilians of Ukraine who were tortured and killed by the Russian regime and the Russian military. And further we will demand in the world in memory of these terrible victims together with us to condemn this evil and its culprits.
Bucha Massacre: city of horror and pain
Since the last two days, the world has been shaken by horrible footage from liberated cities near Kyiv: Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka, Vorzel, Hostomel and others. Freed in the sense of Russian troops. “Freed” in the sense of completely devastated.
From the first days of the war, fierce fighting broke out in these regions between Russian and Ukrainian Armed forces. Due to the capture of a strategically important object – the Hostomel Airport – Russian troops have long kept the neighborhood under siege. In the first week of April, after suffering heavy losses and failures in the attack on Kyiv, Russian troops withdrew to pursue the so-called “second stage of denazification”, when in fact they acknowledged their inability to resist the Ukrainian army. When the Ukrainian military and journalists (the first of whom were Reuters and the French Press) entered the city of Bucha, they encountered an unthinkable in the 21st century picture: on the roads and in the suburbs, in yards and basements, alone and in piles – the bodies of civilians, cruelty violated, lay everywhere.
Many of them had their hands tied behind their backs, with marks of bullets and blows on their bodies. Among those tortured on the streets are both women and men. In particular, teenagers and children. Some bodies were left where they were killed. Others piled up and covered with tires. Burnt clothes indicate attempts to set them on fire. With shrieks in the wells, with distended bellies, torn genitals. Parents were killed in front of children. The Russian military tortured and massively raped… 9 years old girl. Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk told the French Press on the phone that “280 people have already been buried in mass graves”. New horrific testimonies appear every day, the stories of those who survived this hell. Inhuman crimes leave no words to fully describe the horror inflicted on Ukraine.
Russia calls the photos and videos from Bucha staged and provocative, but all the arguments it has cited in support of this have been refuted by experts. On the evening of April 4, the New York Times published satellite images of Bucha taken between March 9 and 21, when Russian troops, by Moscow’s own admission, were in control of the city. They can be seen silhouettes, many of the corpses found in the same places in early April can be recognized. That is, all this time the murdered lay in these places in the middle of the street and as well – refutes Russia’s claims that civilians were killed in Bucha after its troops left the city.
Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said that 410 bodies of killed civilians had been removed from the territory of the Kyiv region liberated from the russian occupiers. The remains of other people are still lying on the streets of Bucha, since the sappers in the city have not finished their work, they can be removed only after several days of demining.
Ukraine demands that the world community investigate these crimes. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba called on the missions of the International Criminal Court and international organizations to come to Bucha and other cities and towns of Kyiv region to gather evidence of Russians committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and stresses that it is genocide. The recognition of Russia’s genocide in Ukraine is stated in a joint statement of the foreign ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic, said Oleksandr Merezhko, chairman of the Foreign Policy and Interparliamentary Cooperation Committee.
“We are already doing everything possible to identify all Russian servicemen involved in these crimes as soon as possible.” In a new address, Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukraine is interested in a full and transparent investigation into Russia’s crimes against civilians, including the European Union and the International Criminal Court.
The president also noted that Russia is already launching an information campaign to hide its guilt, and the Russian military is now likely to try to hide the traces of its crimes and set things up as if they were not doing it. See the appeal in ful, in Ukrainianl: https://youtu.be/r5hVNS3lE2k
The need to investigate Russia’s war crimes was stated by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: “An independent investigation is urgently needed. The perpetrators of war crimes will be brought to justice.”
European Council President Charles Michel said the EU would help Ukraine gather evidence of Russian military crimes near Kyiv. “Shocked by the atrocities committed by the Russian army in the liberated Kyiv region,” he wrote and attached the hashtag “Bucha massacre.” He also said that the European Union was preparing new sanctions against Russia.
List of convictions and reactions from around the world: https://bit.ly/3Keagjd
Crimes of the Russian military in Bucha and other cities will be considered at a meeting of the UN Security Council on April 5: https://bit.ly/3xaabt1
Cases of such atrocities are not isolated and not only in Kyiv region; Murders, tortures, rapes have been recorded in Chernihiv region as well, and due to the occupation by Russian troops, complicated logistics and communications, we do not know for sure what is happening in other territories – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Chernihiv, Sumy.
Mined country, mined Ukraine
Ukraine today is one of the most dangerous places in the world. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that 80,000 square kilometers of Ukraine’s territory are mined – this is one of the highest figures in the world. Even before the ongoing military offensive, more than 1.8 million people in Ukraine had lived surrounded by mines for eight years.”
MFA of Ukraine: After the first wave of russian armed aggression against Ukraine in 2014, about 16,000 square kilometers of Luhansk and Donetsk Regions were contaminated with mines and ERW. Today, according to preliminary estimates, contamination reaches 80,000 square kilometers of the territory of Ukraine.
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on the occasion of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action https://bit.ly/3wZIgMq
“Every Ukrainian photographer dreams to take a photo that will stop the war”
These words belong to Maks Levin, а photojournalist, documentary photographer who became a victim of the Russian military while he did his journalistic job.
On April 1, after long searches in the area of the village of Huta Mezhyhirska in Kyiv region, the police revealed Maks Levin dead. Maks, accompanied by Oleksiy Chernyshov, a serviceman and former photographer, went to Huta Mezhyhirska on March 13 to document the consequences of the Russian aggression. They left a car and headed towards the village of Moshchun. Since then, the connection with both men was lost. Later it became known that intense fighting broke out in the area where Maks was going to work. The whereabouts and fate of Oleksiy Chernyshov have not been established yet. According to the preliminary information released by the press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office, unarmed Levin was killed with two shots from small arms by servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces.
Most of Levin’s documentary projects are related to the war in Ukraine. In 2014, together with his colleague Markiyan Lyseyko, Levin founded the AFTER ILOVAISK, a documentary project to save and reconsider the significance of the events of August 2014 for the fighters, their families, and for all the citizens of Ukraine. Maks was one of those who managed to get out of the Ilovaisk trap alive. We also saw a Revolution of Dignity through Maks’s camera lens. In an interview, Max once said that he must be at the epicenter of events, otherwise he will feel like a fish out of water.
For more than 10 years, he worked for LB.ua, Reuters, BBC, TRT World, Associated Press, Hromadske. His photos were published by the Wall Street Journal, TIME, Breaking news Poland, EU AGENDA, World news, and other media. Maks created dozens of photo and video projects for international humanitarian organizations, such as the WHO and UNICEF. The Ukrainian President awarded Maks Levin with a state award. Sources: Ukrinform, LB.ua.
Mantas Kvedaravičius, a Lithuanian filmmaker, anthropologist was killed on Saturday, April 2, during the Siege of Mariupol, with a camera in his hands. Mantas is an author of a documentary film Mariupolis, that tells about life in the city of Mariupol, where everyday life since 2014 is framed by the constant anticipation of war and its presence nearby. The film premiered at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda mourned the death in a statement. “We lost a creator well known in Lithuania and in the whole world, who, until the very last moment, in spite of danger, worked in Russia-occupied Ukraine.”
This is not the only case of the journalist’s death at the hands of Russian soldiers since the beginning of the full-scale invasion Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The Prosecutor General informed that the Russian occupiers have committed crimes against at least 56 members of the media.
Ukrainian voices on Grammy Awards 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi, singer Mika Newton and poet Lyubov Yakymchuk delivered a speech at the 64th annual Grammy Awards. Video of performance is here. Volodymyr Zelenskyi spoke about what is happening in the country and what, in particular, the musicians are doing.
“The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children drew swooping rockets, not shooting stars,” Zelensky said. “Over 400 children have been injured and 153 children died. And we will never see them drawing.”
Zelensky has been outspoken in gathering international support for his country since the invasion began in February. He tied that to the music industry’s biggest night by saying, “The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence.”
Ukrainian poet Lyubov Yakymchuk performed her poem “Gospel” from “Apricots of Donbass” collection.
While she was declamating her verse John Legend performed his song “Free” with the accompany of ukrainian singer Mika Newton and bandura player from Odesa Susanna Iglidan.
CultureHeadquarters / Lviv
Hnat Khotkevych Palace Of Culture
these words belong to Vasyl Stus, a Ukrainian poet, translator, human rights activist, and active member of a dissident movement. For his civic position, defending the right of Ukrainian culture to development his works were banned by the Soviet regime and he spent 13 years in detention until his death in Perm-36, a Soviet forced labor camp for political prisoners, in 1985.
Reports of sexual violence involving Russian soldiers are multiplying
On March 22, Iryna Venediktova, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, said in a Facebook post that a Russian soldier had killed an unarmed civilian and then repeatedly raped his wife in front of her underage kid. That is the first case in which a Russian serviceman was officially informed about the suspicion of violating the laws and customs of war. He was wanted and a request for detention was filed with the court.
One of the victims – Natalia – told her story to NY Times. It happened to her on March 9. First, the Russian occupiers entered Brovary (a city near Kyiv), where she lived with her husband and 4-year-old son. Then the villains broke the car, killed the dog, shot the husband and raped her three times. Miraculously, the occupiers did not touch their son – Olexiy. He hid in the boiler room and cried. But fortunately, he did not understand what the russian militaries were doing to his mother. Natalia managed to escape to Western Ukraine with her son and apply to the court.
Recently a story about victims in occupied Mariupol was revealed. The Russian occupiers raped a woman in front of her six-year-old son for several days in a row. She later died of her wounds. Her little son’s hair turned gray. This is not a horror movie. Rape, violence, murder – that’s what “Russian world” means, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.
In telephone conversations with relatives, the Russian occupiers admit that they rape children and eat dogs in Ukraine. This is stated in the intercepted conversation of Russians, published by the Ukrainian Security Service on YouTube. In one conversation, the occupier admitted that “three tankers raped a 16-year-old girl”.
Of course, there are dozens more such cases. Due to the difficulties of communication and logistics in the besieged cities, many cases can not be qualified, in addition, the military often kills their victims after violating. “Law enforcement officers have data and open criminal proceedings over the rape of Ukrainian women by the Russian military in the occupied territories, but it is extremely difficult to gather evidence due to the inability to access the territories,” said Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.
A message from Lviv City of Literature, a city of unbreakable poetry
Pavlo Koriaga & Bogdana Brylynska from Lviv City of Literature office open an important page of Ukrainian culture and history. This is a message about the unbreakable Ukrainian poets. Among these authors are Taras Shevchenko, who said “Battle on – and Win Your Battle!”, Lesya Ukrainka, who wrote “I laughed, in order not to cry”, Vasyl Stus, who knew “Human is a duty, not a title”. The Ukrainians remember the main messages of their poets. And that knowledge inspires us to win! Here is a video in Ukrainian and English.
A little earlier, Hanna Khriakova and Mariana Zagoruiko form Lviv – UNESCO CIty of Literature spoke to the community of Nottingham with a statement about war time in Ukraine and Lviv as a part of event – reading of Anastasiia Kosodii “Time Traveler’s Guide to Donbass” play. “Today, here and now, we are creating a new history. The history of a strong country and nation, the history where life wins against death and light against darkness”. Video is available here.
Culture from shelters and ruins
We start to get used to the state of permanent danger and trying to cope with the fact that in some regions of Ukraine people have to spend most of their time in shelters permanenty hearing how bombs are destroying their cities. What a damage that gives to people’s minds and psychics. So that, to avoid the feeling of fear and to somehow try to love the life still given to us, culture plays it’s main role to entertain and educate people, even those in shelters.
Kharkiv – UNESCO City of Music and Freedom
It’s been less than a year since Kharkiv received the title of UNESCO City of Music. So far such a beautiful city, full of bright minds, is now experiencing its darkest times, but still continues to celebrate music, culture and life.
“Concert between explosions”: Kharkiv Music Fest in Kharkiv Underground.
Kharkiv Music Fest is one of the biggest classic music festivals in Ukraine. A lot of festival participants, as mostly those are women, had to leave the country, but organizers thought that today it’s extremely important to celebrate the eternal values, the beauty of our country and it’s future, despite the horror we are experiencing now.
“That’s the symbol that when cannons are speaking, muses are not silent, despite the saying (Inter anna silent Musae), muses are speaking”, – says Serhii Politychiy, the director of Kharkiv Music Fest.
Cellos in bombed Kharkiv. A sound of fearlessness.
Cellist Denys Karachevtsev plays the violin in his destroyed city.
“I love my heroic city which is now struggling to survive the war. I deeply believe that we can help. I believe we can restore and rebuild our city and our country when the war is over. I am launching my project in the streets of Kharkiv to raise funds for humanitarian aid for those who are injured now and restoration of the city’s architecture. Let’s unite to revive our city together!” – says Denys.
During the air alarm in Kharkiv violin was playing, covering the sound of bombs. Vira Lytovchenko created an improvised stage in one of the city’s shelters and plays violin when sirens start. She says that she’s not going to leave the city so that after the war she could help restore it.
When life is hard it’s important to feel good sometimes. And humor helps us! We’ve created a number of different jokes, posters, songs and memes about war just because we are, in fact, funny people.
Comics from the city of Sumy have organized standup session in one of the city’s shelters. As announced, they “gathered people to have a little fun and get led away from all that horror happening outside the window.
“Humor is a way of sublimation, – says Felix Redka, one of the comics. – When you’re scared, you’re joking. There are three reactions to fear: beat, run or freeze. We came up with the fourth reaction – make fun of russians”
Source: The Village Ukraine.
Ivano-Frankivsk drama theater on March 7th played “Eneida” right in time oа the air alarm in the shelter. Later the theater’s administration mentioned that those plays are going to be regular and published a schedule for the next month.
In Kyiv underground Ukrainian films are shown. Those are the films of different genres and epoches – from All-Ukrainian photographic management to modern, which recently could be seen in the Ukrainian cinemas, such as “Best Weekend” or “Stars for Exchange”. The organizers created a selection designed for audiences of all ages: from children to the elderly.
And the most important – life continues in shelters. Since the war started, 15300 child were born, 987 in Kyiv. Source: https://cutt.ly/aDP0sIE.
Every single life matters: saving animals in a wartime
During the five weeks of war in Ukraine, many animals appeared to be in the very heart of a war zone, in the temporarily occupied territories: in shelters, zoos, train stations, streets, locked in apartments.
For many pets are considered to be true family members. Owners are trying their best to save their beloved animals: mostly cats and dogs. Frightened animals hide with their owners in shelters, go on a long evacuation “journey” – by car, bus, train and even on foot. There is a well-known story of a family from Kyiv and their German shepherd Kulia (“Bullet” in Ukrainian), who is 12.5 years old. Providing the evacuation to the Ukrainian-Polish border was quite difficult for both people and the dog: it was difficult for Kulia to walk, she was constantly falling, disabled to get up on her own. So the owner of Kulia carried her for 17 km to the border in his arms! Currently Kulia settled in Poland.
We also saw many photos of Irpin residents carrying their pet-friends in their arms during the evacuation. Many older people did not want to leave their pets. They save four-pawed animals – this is almost the only thing that people take with them into the uncertain future.
Probably everyone saw the story of Anastasia Tykha and Arthur Lee, who took 15 dogs out of war-torn city Irpin, including a disabled one, 5 cats, a chameleon, a turtle, a hamster and a spider. Before the war, couple used to pick up homeless dogs on the street, treat them, buy wheelchairs and look for families for them. When they evacuated, they took animals on the road, because, as Nastya says, “animals are like children to me – children can’t be left on their own”. Later the man and woman returned to Irpin for the lost dogs.
There were cases when the owners, fleeing from the dangers of war, left their pets in apartments. Zoopatrol volunteered to “liberate” the animal in Kyiv. That’s the volunteering organization formed in the very first days of war. After receiving messages from the owners and neighbors about the animal indoors, volunteers break down the door (then brew it back), take it away, feed, and find shelter. At the beginning, Zoopatrul received about 700 applications: many animals were rescued, but there were also deaths, such as a parrot that was left without water. Ukrainian rescuers and the military are also finding animals among the ruins of bombed-out buildings and pulling them out of the fires. They say, “every life is important”. Then the wounded animals are treated, apparently, they are scared of explosions, shelling.
A lot of large animal areas, which were attacked or temporarily blocked by Russian troops, found themselves in a difficult and dangerous situation. These are, for example, the Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve (Kherson region), zoos and shelters in various cities, such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Mykolayiv. Animals are frightened, they lack food and water, they suffer from the cold (often no electricity, fuel for generators), and evacuating zoo residents, especially exotic ones (such as a giraffe or an elephant) in the current circumstances is quite difficult or unrealistic. Rescuing animals is often the work of dedicated zoo workers, locals and volunteers. Some animals were taken out. Good news about the evacuation of the beers from an animal shelter “Bila Skelia” in Kyiv region and about the evacuation of a kangaroo from the Kharkiv Ecopark recently appeared on the Internet. Eight kangaroos of different species were taken out – adults and cubs. Now the animals are safe, they are being cared for by volunteers and are being prepared for further transportation. Video. One of the forms of support of the Mykolaiv zoo available to everyone is buying the entrance ticket. This zoo, established in 1901, has survived both World wars and has never stopped its work. And this time it will work for the benefit of animals as well, workers say.
Also animals can help other animals! This way, Ukrainian blogger-cat Stepan @loveyoustepan (1,2 million subscribers) from Kharkiv gathered $10 035 for supporting Ukrainian zoos and zoo organizations. Stepan is evacuated and currently lives in France. There are even more organizations for helping animals in Ukraine: Ukrainian Rescue Appeal, Happy Paw, and also UAnimals — humanistic movement for animal rights, which raises funds for point assistance to shelters and rehabilitation centers, purchases food and medicine, organizes the evacuation of animals, etc. (donate here). More info in Ukrainer material (in Polish, Spain, other).
CultureHeadquarters / Lviv
Hnat Khotkevych Palace Of Culture
Coexisting: Lviv Cultural Institutions working in a Wartime
The Cultural Strategy Institute looks at the work of cultural institutions at a time that no one could have imagined — in the wartime. We arranged interviews with a number of Lviv cultural institutions — theaters, libraries, cultural and art centers — to ask about their current activities, the areas into which they channel their efforts, and the change in the working format. This article gives an understanding of many processes and strong changes in cultural spheres, even in a more or less safe city like Lviv, which is the most western Ukrainian city and now remains the largest humanitarian aid center and refugee shelter. Nevertheless, on Saturday, March 26, five missile strikes were carried out on Lviv by the Russian military.
A large number of institutions have sheltered internally displaced persons, provided work with children and humanitarian aid and set up educational and study activities. Several theaters have organized their shelters right inside their premises. Mattresses and beds on the stage of the theater are a fabulous spectacle, and the support and care of the staff is even more impressive. Some institutions are sewing thermal underwear and balaclavas for the military and some local libraries gathered over 1000 volunteers to weave the camouflage nets. Each and every institution works on war needs.
Certainly, assisting Ukrainian refugees has been and will be relevant for a long time to come, but we should also provide financial support to the artistic environment inside the country. Having selected foreign programs, the Cultural Strategy Institute focused on bringing those initiatives available in Ukraine to the attention of the Ukrainian artists, professionals and cultural activists who have lost their jobs and sources of income. Under the slogan «For those who stay» the publications are available on the CSI Facebook page. Some museums have organized fundraising programs for colleagues from more dangerous regions of Ukraine. Olha Honchar, the Director of the «Territory of Terror» Totalitarian Regime Museum, has told us how caring for her curators has grown into a definite tool for financial support of the country’s museum environment:
— We keep in constant touch with our fellow curators from the eastern, southern, and central parts of the country. We’ve held the monitoring of each other’s needs and realized that in many regions people did not receive their salaries. Consequently, when the bombing started, it turned out that the stsff didn’t even have money to cover basic needs, let alone something more […] I wrote a post on Facebook asking if there were any foundations willing to support the remaining initiatives in Ukraine. Then my friends and I decided to set up such a foundation of our own, and here it is — from March 3rd till the present day it grew into the Museum Crisis Center.
In the first two weeks (starting from March 3rd), the Museum Crisis Center raised UAH 312,825, which enabled it to provide financial aid to 137 cultural workers of 30 museums from 8 regions of Ukraine (as of March 11th).
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, 250 people have been sheltered on the premises of The Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, Jam Factory Art Center and Rondo Cafe Lviv (as of 21.03). The incomers are from Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel, Lysychansk, Lubatyn, Vyshneve, Zhytomyr, from Canada, Syria, Nigeria, Ireland, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Jam Factory Art Center has equipped its main buildings with a storage facility and a humanitarian assistance distribution center. The Cultural Strategy Institute has also transformed its offices for humanitarian needs, and some CSI educational managers are working with the orphans from Kharkiv.
Further information may be found here in our article: bit.ly/3tKt9Ev
The online course about Ukraine in different languages
The Ukrainian Institute – a public institution that represents Ukrainian culture internationally – recommends the online course about Ukraine in English, Norwegian, French, Italian.
The course covers several modules. Each module of the course is dedicated to a particular historical period and consists of original video lectures, supporting materials with chronology, glossary, and a list of suggested readings. The modules: Independent Ukraine; Kyivan Rus` in the Middle Ages; Ukrainian Lands in the Early Modern Times; Ukraine in the Long XIXth Century; Ukraine in XXth Century. Here is a video about the course.
How to support Ukraine
- to donate for supporting the Armed Forces of Ukraine
/ NGO «Virmenska 35», special account for support the Armed Forces of Ukraine (in U.S. dollars, euros, hryvnias: info here.
// The National Bank of Ukraine, special fundraising account to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine in (U.S. dollars, euros, UK pounds, hryvnias).
/// The Come Back Alive foundation
- to influence authorities directly, to sign the petition, to join a protest, to help Ukrainian refugees, to ban Russian propaganda. Here are more ways and more info!
CultureHeadquarters / Lviv
Hnat Khotkevych Palace Of Culture