Eighty Years Ago

Soviet cavalry on parade in Lviv, after the city's surrender to the Red Army during 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland The city, then known as Lwów, was annexed by the Soviet Union and toda

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This image is taken from Soviet footage in the city of Lviv, made on the 28th of September, 1939. The communists parade through the streets following a successful invasion. Lviv, in Ukraine, changed from Polish to Russian governance at this time.

Control of western Ukraine changed hands a number of times during the Second World War. It was the site of the beginning of the Nazi Germany’s Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.

1940 Soviet stamps celebrating the 1939 “liberation” of Ukrainian and Belarusian people from the Polish regime.

At the end of the war, world leaders including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were responsible for the region falling behind the so-called Iron Curtain, trapping ethnic Ukrainians in the USSR.

Today, Lviv is one of Ukraine’s most patriotic cities.

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On this day: a bid for independence

a sign “ukraine is leaving the ussr” at the rally in support of the nation_s independence next to ukraine_s verkhovna rada in kyiv on 24 august, 1991.

24th August 1991: Shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, people gather in Kyiv, Ukraine to demonstrate in favour of independence. The sign reads, “Ukraine is leaving the USSR”.

Demonstrations for freedom from Moscow broke out across the USSR in 1991. Some were violently crushed by the Soviet Army, on instructions from the communist government, resulting in civilian deaths.

On this day…

6th August 1942: The Daily Express’ front page reports on Stalin’s genocide in Ukraine, sharing photos of the dead and dying that were sneaked out of the Soviet Union. Unlike many Kremlin-friendly Western publications of the time, the newspaper chose to report on the genocide that claimed the lives of up to ten million people.

In Ukraine the Holodomor took place from 1932-33, when the food and crops of ethnic Ukrainians were confiscated and the people deliberately starved to death, to be replaced with colonial Russians.

6_aug_top_daily_express_Holodomor_Genocide The Daily Express Monday 6th August 1934 STalin Russia's genocide in Ukraine communism

Out this month: Mr Jones

mr. jones is a 2019 drama film directed by agnieszka holland. soviet union ussr ukraine stalin's genocide holodomor in ukraine movie poster

Historical film Mr Jones – about a Welsh journalist who risked his life to tell the truth about Stalin’s 1930s genocide in Ukraine – is out this month, beginning with a premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

Unlike the Holocaust, the Kremlin’s forced famine genocide – known as the Holodomor – escaped the world’s notice mostly because Western journalists, many of them advocates of communism, spent decades denying it.

Conservative estimates of the death toll put it on par with the Holocaust, while others place the numbers much higher; up to ten-million Ukrainians killed between 1932 and 1933. The numbers vary so much because, unlike the Germans who documented every aspect of the Holocaust, the Russian authorities have done everything in their power to hide their crimes.

(It should be noted that the Kremlin committed another genocide, in Kazakhstan, at the same time, killing 42% of their population.)

Gareth Jones, played in the movie by English actor James Norton, saw the Holodomor firsthand, and went against the lead of Stalin-friendly journalists like The New York Times’ Walter Duranty to try and get the truth out beyond the Iron Curtain.

Jones was only twenty-nine when he was murdered, one day shy of his thirtieth birthday.

This film seems incredibly important in this day and age, with people once again reacting to rising fascism by identifying as communists and sympathising with Russia. As this Variety article points out, we live in a similar age to the 1930s, with propaganda and “fake news” dominating much of the press, and most of the world turning a blind eye to atrocities being committed by the Kremlin, and by the regimes in countries like Syria.

Memorial to the Great Purge

KurapatyforestgravesnearMinsk,Belarus_%2Today is Dziady in Belarus, which is both a Slavic feast day and the day Belarusians commemorate hundreds of thousands killed in St

Today is Dziady in Belarus, which is both a Slavic feast day and the day Belarusians commemorate hundreds of thousands killed in Stalin’s Great Purge during Soviet control of the nation.

Not long before the collapse of the Soviet Union, historian Zianon Pazniak revealed the extent of the executions in the Kurapaty forest near the capital city, Minsk.

At least 30 000 people were killed in Kurapaty between 1937 and 1941, but some estimates put the number as high as 250 000.

People who attended the first commemoration – in 1988 – were attacked by the police, and to this day Kurapaty is not publicly mentioned by the pro-Russian government (run since the 1990s by dictator Alexander Lukashenko).

Pazniak fled the country in 1996 and was granted political asylum in the United States.

On this day: Dressing a Communist

Italian fashion designer Angelo Litrico cutting fabric for a jacket for the secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev. 26th October 1957

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26th October 1957: Italian fashion designer Angelo Litrico is photographed cutting fabric for a jacket for Nikita Khrushchev. Khrushchev held the title of General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 until 1964.

The designer, born the eldest of twelve children in Sicily in 1927, found international fame dressing political figures on both sides of the Cold War standoff.

Russian Orthodoxy – GONE!

ANDRIY BARANSKYY

The Lavra in Kyiv

In a centuries’ overdue move, and one that is going to lead to more Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Constantinople Patriarchate approved Ukraine’s split from the Russian Orthodox Church overnight. It is being called the biggest split in all of Christianity in a thousand years.

Russian Orthodoxy was forced on Ukrainians over several centuries, finishing with the forced conversion of my family’s Ukrainian Catholic villages in the west of the country when Churchill gifted the country to Stalin after the Second World War (thanks for that, Winston!).

What will happen now? Well, in anticipation of this move, the Russian military has already stepped up attacks in Ukraine’s east, with people being killed in record numbers again. It has to be understood that Russia’s Church – in the past decade or so – has become a weaponised political party that effectively runs the country, behind only Vladimir Putin.

Additionally, experts are predicting staged attacks on Russian churches, so that Putin can blame them on “fascist Ukrainians”, and attack and invade even more.

What I’m worried about is attacks on the thousand-year-old Orthodox monasteries and cathedrals in Ukraine, such as the Lavra complex in Kyiv. I sure hope they’ve stepped up security at those locations.

This move removes a major aspect of Russian colonialism from Ukraine.

I’m not sure why Russia never comes up alongside the likes of France and Britain and Spain in discussions about colonialism and cultural appropriation (because people think Russia is romantic?). The Russians were just as brutal as anybody else (see the Holodomor). And – unlike other nations – their behaviour is ongoing (see the annexation of Crimea, the invasion and occupation of eastern Ukraine, the ongoing invasion and occupation of one-fifth of Georgia, and the illegal occupation of Moldova).

The next few weeks are going to be chaotic for Eastern Europe.