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

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Christmas Eve and Koliada

Today is Christmas Eve by the old calendar, and is still celebrated by millions of people around the world, especially in Eastern Europe.

The 6th of January is also the date of the beginning of Koliada, an ancient Slavic winter festival that predates Christianity. The festival is now incorporated into Christmas festivities.

Koliada in the Mogilev region of Belarus at Christmastime in 1903.

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Калядоўшчыкi_Горацкага_павета_,_Магілёўская_губерня,_1903гKoliada in the Mogilev region of Belarus at Christmastime in 1903. X

The festival in Lviv, Ukraine.

Парад_вуличних_вертепів_у_Львові,_початок_2010-х Winter Koliada and Ukrainian Christmas in Lviv Ukraine

75 Years Ago: Kyiv, Ukraine in Ruins.

The Second Battle of Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine concluded in freezing conditions on the 22nd of December, 1943, when the Red Army defeated the occupying Germans.

The first battle took place as part of the infamous Operation Barbarossa in 1941, when the Soviets were defeated, and over 600 000 were killed or captured in the Ukrainian capital. Comparatively, around four-thousand Ukrainians were recorded as dead more missing in the second battle.

This photograph, shortly after the Nazi defeat, shows the major boulevard Khreshchatyk, Ukraine’s most famous street, in ruins.

Kiev_Kreschatik_after_liberation_November_1943 Khreshchatyk Kyiv Ukraine Second World War Two

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.

On this day: the death of a Russian imperialist

Муравьёв-Виленский_литографияCount Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov 12 October 1796 in Moscow – 12 September 1866 in Saint Petersburg) imperial statesman forced

In 1865

Count Mikhail Nikolayevich Muravyov, a Russian imperial statesman infamous for his policies of forced Russification across the empire, died on the 12h of September, 1866.

Born in Moscow in 1796, Muravyov worked hard in what is now Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus to suppress nationalism by targeting religion and language. Catholic churches were torn down, and schools teaching in Polish and Lithuanian languages were closed. Russian teachers were brought in from elsewhere to take over the education system.

St_Joseph_Church_demolitionSt. Joseph the Betrothed Church in Vilnius being demolished by the tsarist authorities in 1877 to enforce Russification policies. Lithuania Russia cultural gen

A Catholic church in Vilnius being torn down in 1877.

Additionally, the Roman alphabet was banned, and replaced with Cyrillic.

Similar policies were put in place by Russian officials in other regions – particularly Ukraine – and continued to be used by the Soviets.

Muravyov was recorded as saying: ‘What the Russian rifle did not succeed in doing, will be finished off by Russian schools.’

Sixty Years Ago: British Ballet in Australia

10th September 1958: New Zealand-born ballerina Rowena Jackson stars in a (British) Royal Ballet performance of Swan Lake at the Empire Theatre in Sydney, Australia.