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.

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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

On this day: Nuclear tests during the Cold War

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7th August 1957: The tail of an airship sticks up in the air after it was brought down by a nuclear test in Nevada, USA.

The downing of the (unmanned) ship came at the height of tensions during the Cold War, at a time Russian/Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, infamous for carrying out Stalinist purges in Ukraine, was repeatedly threatening the West with nuclear annihilation.

928 nuclear tests were held at the site in Nevada. The frequent mushroom clouds, seen for miles, became Las Vegas tourist attractions.

On this day: Before the Nuclear Disaster

A_Picture_Of_Prypiat,_pictured_before_the_Chernobyl_Disaster_to_add_Context_to_what_the_city_was_like chornobyl ukraine ussr soviet union 23rd April 1983 Pripyat (Ukrainian При́п'я

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The closed nuclear city of Pripyat (При́п’ять), Ukraine is pictured here on the 23rd of April, 1983, three years and three days before the Chernobyl (Chornobyl in Ukrainian) disaster.

At the time of the disaster Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, and the fallout from the event caused great harm to areas of Ukraine and much of Belarus.

Pripyat was evacuated on the 27th of April, 1986, and today stands as a ghost town.

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.

Rome: City and Empire

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We visited the Rome exhibition at the National Museum of Australia on Sunday afternoon (a tip: go late in the day and you won’t have to wait in a queue for an hour – but there’ll be some fingerprints on all the glass cabinets!).

Here are a few more shots:

The entrance (with me!).

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The Emperor Augustus, who looks suspiciously like Vladimir Putin!

augustus vladimir putin rome exhibition national museum of australia canberra sonya heaney 20th january 2019

And I was SO happy to see they’d labelled Crimea as Ukraine, despite what Russia is currently up to.

kerch crimea ukraine rome exhibition national museum of australia canberra