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.

On this day: the beginning of independence from the USSR

On the 24th of July, 1990, the year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the people of Ukraine celebrated their first National Flag Day. At an event in the centre of Kyiv (Kiev), the capital city, the blue and yellow flag was raised for the first time since being outlawed by Moscow when Russia absorbed Ukraine into the USSR.

Today the event takes place in August.

X

Kiev_24_7_1990_Ukrainian_Flag The occasion of the raising of the Ukrainian flag outside Kiev's city hall on 24th July 1990 (during the decline of the USSR) Kyiv Soviet Union

On this day: a protest against communism

Ukrainians in Sydney, Australia march against Russian communism on the 28th of June, 1953. This image appeared in The Canberra Times the following day.

More Ukrainians died under Stalin’s rule than the entire death toll of the Holocaust, with ethnic Ukrainians singled out by Soviet authorities for a genocide barely recognised by the world until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Ukrainians demonstrating against Russian Communism in Macquarie Street, Sydney. Just come from a Ukrainian Orthodox Church service at St. Andrew's Cathedral and were heading towards the

Easter in Ukraine

This 1887 painting of Ukrainian Easter is by Mykola Pymonenko.

Easter in Ukraine is a very significant holiday, with celebrations stretching long before and after the traditional Easter weekend. Ukrainians take baskets to church to be blessed, loaded with traditional foods and decorated with embroidery, candles, and the world-famous pysanky, the hand-painted eggs.

ПимоненкоСтрастныйчетвергUkrainian Easter by Mykola Pymonenko 1887

Wartime Ukrainian Easter

Before, during, and after the Second World War, Ukrainians resisted (often in underground organisations), occupation by both Russia and Germany, as well as military aggression from others including Hungary and Romania. Additionally, the west of Ukraine was under Polish rule before the Soviets invaded. The region suffered heavily during Operation Barbarossa.

These vintage Ukrainian Easter cards are from that turbulent time – note the rifle carried by the man on the horse.

The writing is the typical Easter message for Ukraine, and translates to ‘Christ is Risen’.

American professor Timothy Snyder is a good place to start for information on the most overlooked aspect of the war, particularly his book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.

Easter_card_Ukr_Legion These Easter cards are Ukrainian, and represent the era and the underground forces fighting more than one invader at the same time

Easter_card_ukr_leg These Easter cards are Ukrainian, and represent the era and the underground forces fighting more than one invader at the same time

Bitter Harvest

bitter-harvest-poster-2bitter-harvest-is-an-upcoming-2017-romantic-drama-film-set-in-soviet-ukraine-in-the-early-1930s-holodomor-genocide

While everybody knows about the Holocaust, there was another major genocide in Europe in the 20th century that is almost unknown.

the-holodomor-stalins-genocide-in-ukraine-1932-33

The Holodomor, Stalin’s manufactured famine/genocide, is believed to have killed up to ten million people in Ukraine in the 1930s. Still denied by Moscow, this genocide has received little to no attention from the West, and none whatsoever from Hollywood.

A new film is due out now which tackles this topic, focusing on a Ukrainian Cossack couple. Keep an eye out for Bitter Harvest this month.