The Ukrainian East ... A painful wound that hurts daily and nightly with mourning for the dead ones, makes us search for the answer to the question: was it possible to prevent disaster? How to distinguish who are ours and who are strangers and (not) strangers in conditions of a hybrid war? And how, without losing ours, to get victory in it?
“Ukrainian East”... This is the name of the museum project which uses authentic materials to tell about the war that broke out in the center of Europe in the 21st century.
The aggression of the Russian Federation against the state of Ukraine, which arose on the ruins of the Soviet empire, exercising the sovereign right to self-determination provided for by the UN Charter, began with the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Subsequently, the flames of the conflict spilled over to Donbas, where the Russian-Ukrainian war has been lasting for more than five years. It took lives of about 13 thousand military personnel and civilians, broke families, destroyed many infrastructure sites and caused enmity between the two peoples who were destined to be neighbors.
All these years, the museum team follows the events in the east of Ukraine, collects the authentic materials related to them in all regions of the country, including the area of fighting, creates thematic exhibitions and conducts educational and communication activities. During this time, the fund collection has been replenished with more than 10 thousand museum objects, which are the evidences of the valor and sacrifice of Ukrainian soldiers who protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state in its eastern territories. At the same time, they reveal the realities of the lives of civilians who are suffering, surviving, struggling, as well as socio-humanitarian problems caused by hostilities and temporary occupation. The museum project “Ukrainian East” is an exhibition reminding to our fellow citizens that there is war in the country and every minute it can take one’s life. It is also exhibition warning the whole global community, because who will become the next victim of the aggressor?..
Factual and statistical information for the preparation of the exhibition is taken from the official sites of the state institutions: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, Security Service of Ukraine, National Guard of Ukraine, Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine, Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, National Institute for Strategic Studies, Ukrainian Center for Economic and Political Research named after Alexander Razumkov as well as official correspondence and publications: White Book of Antiterrorist Operation in the East of Ukraine (2014 – 2016). – K., 2017; Surviving Hell: Testimonies of Victims on Places of Illegal Detention in Donbas. – K., 2015 and others.
Photo: Ruslan Borovyk, Artem Hetman, Maksym Dondiuk, Oleksandr Klymenko, Stanislav Kozliuk, Serhii Loiko, Yefrem Lukatskyi, Anton Naumliuk, Pavlo Netosov, Maks Rokotanskyi, Anatolii Stepanov.
Our story is about those who, despite war and terrorism, aggression and annexation, occupation and repression, totalitarian press and political cataclysms, chaos or betrayal, found the courage to survive, to endure and not to break. They stayed Free, passing through the crucible of suffering, injustice and cruelty...
The exhibition space is framed by artistic clusters-compositions "Breaking the Darkness of Captivity", "Swing of Time", "Arteries of Life" and video narrative "Way to Freedom", based on documents and materials of 12 former prisoners of the Kremlin as well as so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. It symbolically depicts the collective image of Free Person, who, despite various life and political preferences, rose against Moloch of the "hybrid" war, the information and propaganda intoxication of the "northern neighbor", rose against terror, harassment and intimidation, passed through the bloody torture chambers of quasi-states and cold prisons of Russia, stepped over the absurdity and ineptitude of the "accusations" of Russian "justice", showed courage, honor and dignity, picked up the symbolic Flag of FREEDOM after the release and keeps on carrying it with the TRUTH...; draws attention to the fate of political prisoners staying in Russia or in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine; figuratively captures and expresses the spirit of FREEDOM, steadfastness and life-asserting WILLPOWER!
In 2014, Russia annexed Ukrainian Crimea and fueled a bloody war in Eastern Ukraine. We managed to repel the aggressor, but the process of historical revisionism of the Soviet totalitarian regime began in the occupied territories: an atmosphere of fear, powerlessness and hopelessness, terror against dissidents, war crimes, brutal violations of human rights and freedoms, contempt for human dignity, arrests and imprisonment of guiltless people.
"It's a kind of horror, arbitrariness and a kind of phantasmagoria, so it was all unreal, and I could not even understand why," – the Ukrainian religious scholar Igor Kozlovskyi commented on the 700 days of his captivity in the “DPR”…
According to official statistics, 3,376 Ukrainian citizens have been released from Russian prisons and torture chambers in the temporarily occupied territories. Currently, 371 (?!) of Ukrainian citizens are in prisons in Russia, the annexed Crimea and certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (ORDLO).
Idea: Ivan Kovalchuk
Curators: Iryna Kotsabiuk, Bohdan Halchynskyi, Olesya Sobkovych
Consultant: Roman Sushchenko
Author of the installation: Anton Lohov
Artists: Anton Lohov, Anatoliy Musienko
Special thanks to Zoya Shu (initiator of the project "After Captivity") for the provided photos.