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Friday, May 09, 2008

Ukraine Celebrates Victory Day (Updated)

World War II killed more than 70 million people, of which 23-25 million came from the Soviet Union. Ukraine suffered more than 7 million casualties.

My father was born in August 1941, during the first weeks of the German occupation of western Ukraine. When I was a kid, he would tell me about the war. We took regular trips to the Great Patriotic War Museum, one of my favorite childhood places in Kyiv.

The war was indeed patriotic, but it was so in spite, not because of, communist ideology.
At the outbreak of the war, Stalin addressed the nation as "brothers and sisters." He feared the the people whom he had repressed so much would turn against him and would turn this war into a payback time for him.

Hitler would never become the lesser evil in Ukraine.

The bloody game of chess played by Hitler and Stalin made millions of Ukrainians, Belarusians,
Russians, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and many other people fight for their land, fight for their loved ones.

In August 1992, at age 12, I attended the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UPA. With Ukraine now independent, I could learn how the people of western Ukraine fought against the repressive Soviet regime. I guess I grew up recognizing
these two dimensions of Ukraine's involvement in WW II.

There's a third dimension: the thousands of Ukrainian Americans and Ukrainian Canadians who fought both in Europe and in the Pacific.

Today, I stayed true to the tradition of visiting the Great Patriotic War Museum.

Victory Day, Ukr. День Перемоги (Den Peremohy), is a national holiday in Ukraine

Some Like It Red

Approaching the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Glory to the Soviet falcons who defeated Hitler and Bandera!
Democracy, isn't it?

Kyiv's left bank

Bridging the generation gap

The wreaths at the obelisk

Victory Day in full progress

More of left-bank Kyiv


The Metro Bridge

Cheapest bread in Ukraine!
Chernovetsky Bloc
No. 31 on the ballot
There he is!

The Gate Church of the Trinity, the entrance to the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

Approaching the Museum, campaigning rain or shine
Party of Regions, Chernovetsky Bloc, Hromadsky Aktyv kiosks

Just Married

Caribbean crisis vets?

Ukrainian cossack cannons

That's a very bad habit!

When I was their age I played with those artillery pieces, too!

Baba Paraska: I Just Called to Say I Love You


Bridging the generation gap, again

Entering an open air exhibit

Aircraft, tanks and self-propelled artillery


Amphibious assault vehicles

Heavy artillery and an IRBM

Soviet jet fighters

SS-20 (aka Pioneer/Saber), the Soviet IRBM deployed in Europe and withdrawn under the INF treaty

Great Patriotic War-themed stone carvings

The Eternal Flame

Zhukov babushkas


Happy Victory Day!
The entrance to the Museum

Heading home

Looking back


Qatar Cat said...

Thanks a million for these... How I miss Kiev...

Anonymous said...

Taras - Hv u seen this story in ukr press? "Ukraine’s defense chiefs are planning to put the historical record straight with a $20 million budget movie set during the Crimean war of the 1850s."

Odd story but could very well be true - but why is the money not coming from the Ministry of Culture who should be funding films? and I remember a story about soldiers who had their electricity and heat shut off due to budgetary shortfalls which did not take into account rising tariffs which is expected this coming winter as well. DefMin is so well funded that they hv this type of money for a movie but can't raise pay for soldiers or build housing? Scratchin' my head trying to understand this.


Taras said...

You are welcome, Cat!

Don’t just miss it. Come spend a few days here!

Qatar Cat said...

I should, really. My mom will be there this month! I miss chestnut trees. Maples are still my faves, but chestnuts are just awesome, too.

samuel said...

hi taras, thanks for your comments on my blog. your pictures tell me that we have done the exact same route last friday :-)

I have arrived in kiev a week ago, and I really like it so far, even though there are things i don't really understand yet...


Taras said...

First time I hear of it, Luida! But I like the idea if it matches Ukraine’s needs.

Undoubtedly, Ukraine needs to start producing her own movies — her own perspective — rather than consume Russia’s perspective only.

For Ukraine, it’s both an issue of cultural identity and national security. You can call it the "battle for the hearts and minds."

In the Ukrainian army, the battle is fought with education, training, compensation and housing. In the domestic and international arenas, the battle is fought with articles, presentations, books and movies. As of today, it’s a losing battle on both fronts.

While Russia’s movie industry has recovered from the rough times of the 90s and today supplies Ukraine with captivating war epics and politically laden miniseries, Ukraine has yet to discover her voice.

Of course, the Ukrainian army’s immediate needs should take priority. But we should never lose sight of the big picture.

We need a multipronged approach to combat indoctrination efforts, smear campaigns, and lingering misconceptions.

And when I say lingering misconceptions, I mean this:

>>In January, new measures stipulating that films released cinematically in Ukraine had to be local language versions prompted an outcry by Russian and local distributors, particularly in the country’s eastern half where most people are ethnic Russians and speak Russian rather than Ukrainian.

Ukrainians make up a majority in all of Ukraine’s 25 oblasts, including eastern Ukraine, with the exception of the Crimean Autonomous Republic. Meanwhile, in eastern Ukraine, the percentage of Russophones exceeds the percentage of ethnic Russians living there, which gives us living proof of the Soviet policy of Russification. In the eastern Ukrainian countryside, most people speak Ukrainian or surzhyk, thus providing a link between urbanization and Russification.

Now that we live in independent Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens must learn Ukrainian, and the state in turn should grant them the right to preserve their cultural identity.

People who want to preserve their Russian roots don’t have to rely on Russia’s linguicidal and geopolitical role.

Sending your mom v razvedku, Cat:)?

As I said, no one will do you any harm for speaking Russian unless, of course, you plan to overthrow our government, which I doubt:)

If you visit Kyiv during the last weekend of May, known as Kyiv Day(s), you will find some those lovely maples and chestnut trees still intact. But hurry up. There’s a massive deforestation afoot in the city due to barbaric construction and corrupt zoning policies.

So if the May 25 city election brings more "land lovers" into the City Hall, this may be your last chance!

DLW said...

wonderful pics!

Remind me of my visit and how I took many similar pics....


Orest said...

Thanks for the visual presentation.

Just used to reading about things in Ukraine, nice to visualize also.

Taras said...

You are welcome, Samuel!

Judging by that SS-20 pic displayed at your blog, we took the same route indeed!

Every person who arrives to another country has questions. It’s natural. Don’t hesitate to ask:)!

You can always come back to Kyiv and take fresh pics, David!

After all, US citizens enjoy more travel opportunities, comparatively speaking. So feel free to take advantage of our open-door policy! lol:)

Taras said...

Thanks for watching, Orest! I’ll post more later.