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.
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.
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!).
The Emperor Augustus, who looks suspiciously like Vladimir Putin!
And I was SO happy to see they’d labelled Crimea as Ukraine, despite what Russia is currently up to.
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.
The festival in Lviv, Ukraine.
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.