Category Archives: Ukraine

How not to offend millions of people.

In things I can’t believe I’m typing this morning …

A reminder: the hammer and sickle/the Soviet Union represents evil.

After a “cutesy” episode of Australian Story on the ABC, in which a bunch of Anglo Australians waved a communist flag around and did a “retro kitsch” tribute to Stalinist Russia, in which modern-day Russia was discussed as if it – and Putin memes = cute …

The hammer and sickle flag is illegal in much of the former USSR, right alongside the swastika. It’s illegal because it represents the genocides of the Ukrainian and Kazakh people, the total ethnic cleansing of the native people of Crimea, the deportation of the people of western Ukraine (including everyone in my family’s villages) to Siberian gulags, the deportation of tens of thousands of people from the Baltics, too.

It’s illegal because it represents Russian colonialism and the suppression or elimination of other racial and ethnic groups’ languages and cultures. Because it represents a century of mass murder and horror.

It is now an ideology Putin is using in his invasions of Georgia (which began in 2008, and is ongoing) and Ukraine (started in 2014, and ongoing).

I can’t believe this is something I have to explain, but – to my own horror – Australian author after Australian author shared the story yesterday, all with a comment to the effect of “look at this happy, good news story!”.

To wave that flag around without a care in the world is hurtful and harmful to the non-Russian people of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This is something we just went through with My Kitchen Rules, when they pulled their “cutesy Stalin and Putin” retro communist ad.

Do better, people. There’s no excuse to not know that Soviet Russia was as evil and genocidal as Nazi Germany was.

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Eurovision Revisited

The Eurovision final should have taken place this weekend (stupid virus), so it’s time to revisit the best performance the competition has ever seen: Ukraine’s Verka Serduchka in 2007!
As I say every year, I’m a dot in the video. I was travelling with my brother at the time, and I think we were the only people in Finland who were accidentally in Helsinki on Eurovision weekend!

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Христос Воскрес – Happy Ukrainian Easter

Христос Воскрес! Happy Ukrainian Easter!

It’s a strange and horrible time for a holiday. Ukrainian Easter, possibly the biggest day of the year in my culture, is not going to be the same this year.

eastercard023Христос Воскрес—happy Ukrainian Easter!

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Happy Ukrainian New Year!

Happy Ukrainian New Year! As Ukrainian Christmas doesn’t happen until the 6th – 7th of January, New Year happens in the middle of the month.

Ukrainian-home-decor Christmas New Year preparations in Ukraine Ukrainian recipes

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Merry Christmas – again.

Today is Christmas Eve according to the old calendar, and tonight millions of people (including Ukrainians like me) celebrate with a twelve-dish dinner.

With the disaster surrounding us and a house full of smoke, this is going to be an odd one.

Ukrainian Christmas Eve Canberra Australia Ukrainian Embroidery Ukrainian Culture Sonya Heaney 6th January 2018

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Eurovision

I’m not planning on watching Eurovision this year, but seeing as it’s Eurovision weekend (as well as election weekend in Australia!), here’s the best performance in the whole history of the competition: Ukraine’s Verka Serduchka in 2007.

The event took place in Helsinki, Finland that year, and I was actually in the cityi with my brother at the time. We are in the footage they broadcast from the city’s main square.

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The Hopak

Today is International Dance Day, so please enjoy this performance of the Hopak, the national dance of Ukraine. Most people have seen these steps, these big jumps, and these costumes, but few realise they’re Ukrainian (those baggy trousers and the headdresses with the ribbons are distinctive Ukrainian national clothes, and not worn by Russians). It’s what most people would probably call “Cossack dancing”.

The fact it’s from a telecast on Russia-1, a television station that now dishes up anti-Ukrainian Kremlin propaganda day in and day out, is not lost on me!

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Happy Ukrainian Easter!

Yes, those aren’t pysanky in the bowl, but at least the embroidery comes from Ukraine!

Ukrainian Embroidery Easter Sonya Heaney April 2019

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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 the 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.

He 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 as 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.

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Rome: City and Empire

cof

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!).

cof

The Emperor Augustus, who looks suspiciously like Vladimir Putin!

augustus vladimir putin rome exhibition national museum of australia canberra sonya heaney 20th january 2019

And I was SO happy to see they’d labelled Crimea as Ukraine, despite what Russia is currently up to.

kerch crimea ukraine rome exhibition national museum of australia canberra

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