|Sunshine Choir sings for peace|
MEMBERS of London’s Russian and Ukrainian communities along with progressive Londoners last Thursday evening packed the Coningsby Gallery for the launch of a charity photo exhibition to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in south-eastern Ukraine.
The walls were filled with photographs of scenes of what is now everyday life for the people of that region – surviving amid shattered buildings with no electricity, no clean water supplies and very little food – and under constant threat of new bombing and shelling of their homes.
This is the result of the war being waged on the population by the fascist junta now reigning in Kiev because they have refused to accept the authority of that junta and bow down to a Nazi regime.
The photos show elderly women distraught as dead bodies lie in the street, or sheltering in basement store-rooms amid large jars of pickles. They show mothers trying to protect and feed their children amid chaos; they show queues for food and queues for transport out of the area – to take them as refugees to neighbouring Russia.
Thousands who can get out have done so but many are trapped, especially the elderly and the very young and those who are pregnant.
The exhibition was organised by Lazlo Puskas of the Kultura Foundation to show the world what is really going on in eastern Ukraine and to protest about the lack of coverage of the situation in western media.
The exhibition was opened with songs for peace from the “Sunshine Choir” in Ukrainian and in English.
And Larissa, a woman from Lugansk told the crowd assembled there of how those who cannot get out are trying to cope with no food, no clean water, no electricity, no transport and homes in ruins.
She spoke of how the lack or refrigeration means that the bodies of the dead have to be buried at once – often in mass graves and before proper identification can happen.
Homes, hospitals and schools have been bombed – there are no safe places to take the sick , the wounded and few medicines to treat them. Many are sheltering in dark, damp cellars.
The Kultura Foundation explained that after the February seizure of power in Kiev by ultra-nationalist organisations, including the neo-Nazi Banderists and the Right Sector, there was a surge of peaceful anti-fascist movements in the majority of cities in south-east Ukraine.
This was accelerated by the Odessa tragedy where people fleeing from the brutal fascists sought shelter in the Trade Union Building, which was then set on fire, leading to the death of at least 48 people – while the police stood by and watched.
In order to prevent similar tragedies locals created peoples assemblies in Donetsk and Lugansk and tried in vain to achieve a dialogue with the Kiev regime.
Kiev responded by launching a full scale military operation against the people of south-east Ukraine and the area has been plunged into a humanitarian catastrophe. Thousands have died or are wounded. Tens of thousands have fled their homes.
The goal of the exhibition, which lasted a week from Thursday 21st August, was to show the scale of the disaster and to urge Kiev to stop the genocide of its own people.