Independence Day

Today is Ukrainian Independence Day (such as independence is for Ukraine at the moment). Here is a 1960s photograph of a man performing the Hopak, Ukraine’s national dance.

Hopak Ukrainian Dance 1960s USSR Soviet Union

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On this day: Prisoners of War in Ukraine

Lager Winnica, gefangene Russen

28th July 1941: Red Army soldiers captured by the Nazis during food distribution at a  camp in occupied Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

In contrast to their treatment of British and American prisoners, the Germans employed a policy of deliberately mistreating Soviet prisoners of war, which resulted in 3-3.5 million deaths – an estimated 57% of all soldiers captured.

From the German Federal Archives.

Belarus after Liberation

194407_abandoned_german_vehicles_belarus_(revised) Nazi tanks stand abandoned near the city of Babruysk, Belarus in July of 1944. The Soviet Red Army defeated the Germans in the region o

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Nazi tanks stand abandoned near the city of Babruysk, Belarus in July of 1944. The Soviet Red Army defeated the Germans in the region on the 29th of June.

Belarus remained under Soviet control until the collapse of the USSR.

On this day: the Bolshoi Ballet in Amsterdam

Anefo_911-3243_Aankomst_solisten9 June 1960 Bolshoi Ballet in Amsterdam 9th June 1960 USSR Soviet Union Vintage

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Anefo_911-3243_Aankomst_solisten9 June 1960 Bolshoi Ballet in Amsterdam 9th June 1960 USSR Soviet Union Vintage.

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These images were taken in Amsterdam on the 9th of June, 1960. The Bolshoi Ballet arrives in the Netherlands for an international tour.

The Soviets believed nobody could surpass them in the arts, however dancers of the Bolshoi (Moscow) and Kirov (Saint Petersburg) companies were not always allowed to leave the USSR. Some dancers defected, while others were considered unsuitable, such as superstar Maya Plisetskaya, a Lithuanian Jew whose family faced heavy persecution in Russia.

100 Years Ago in Ukraine

The city of Yekaterinoslav, Ukraine from the air in spring of 1918.

Under the Soviets the city was renamed Dnipropetrovsk, after a Communist leader responsible for engineering the Holodomor, the genocide of some ten million Ukrainians in the 1930s.

Following Ukraine’s 2013-14 revolution and the Russian invasion that followed, the local government renamed the city Dnipro.

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Aerial_photograph,_Ukrainian_city_of_Yekaterinoslav,_now_called_Dnipropetrovs'k_(8694217284) Dnipro Spring 1918

Aerial_photograph,_Ukrainian_city_of_Yekaterinoslav,_now_called_Dnipropetrovs'k_(8693099403) Dnipro Spring 1918

On this day: Stalin sends Ukrainians to Siberia

The people of western Ukraine being deported to Siberia by Stalin_s government. 1940s.

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This weekend marks the seventieth anniversary of Stalin’s mass deportation of Ukrainians to Siberia. In the west of the country entire villages were cleared of ethnic Ukrainians. In just one day over 76 000 people were deported.

1992: Ukrainian Champions in Barcelona

The 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona were held from late July to early August. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union the year before, athletes from the former USSR competed under their own flags and national anthems in individual events, and for the Unified Team in group events.

Ukrainian rhythmic gymnasts Alexandra Timochenko and Oksana Skaldina came home with the gold and bronze medals. They are the two fair-haired first place-getters pictured below at the 1991 World Championships.

Alexandra Timochenko (Ukraine), Oksana Kostina and Oksana Oxana Skaldina (Ukraine) (URSS) 1991 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Champions

Under their own flag for the first time, Ukraine’s 1992 female artistic gymnasts also outshone their teammates, with the women winning a further two gold, a silver, and two bronze medals individually, as well as a share in the team gold with their Belarusian, Uzbek and Russian teammates.

Stamp_of_Ukraine_s23 Rhythmic Gymnastics Stamp of Ukraine 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games

Ukrainian stamp from 1992, featuring Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics. X

Despite almost no funding and an ongoing war with Russia, Ukrainian gymnasts continue to win Olympic medals, most recently gold and silver in the men’s competition in 2016. Many gymnasts from the country have moved to compete for other nations in order to access proper training facilities. Following the 2016 Rio Games, the equipment used in the competition was donated to Ukraine’s gymnastics federation.