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: 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

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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.

On this day: a Communist Ballet in China

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US President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972 resulted in significant changes in relations between the two countries.

During the visit, Nixon and his wife attended a performance of the communist ballet Red Detachment of Women. The ballet, based on a 1961 film of the same name, which itself was based on a book, was staged on the 22nd of February, 1972.

Red Detachment of Women, one of only a few ballets permitted in China during the Cultural Revolution, is still in the repertoire of the National Ballet of China.

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.