AN exhibition of the works of prominent Ukrainian photographers opens in Cork this week.
Visitors to the exhibition, “Ukraine: The Price of Freedom”, which opens at 5.30pm on Wednesday in St Peter’s Church on North Main Street, will get a glimpse of life on the frontline of the devastating war against Russia’s invasion.
The exhibition consists of some 50 photographs, taken by 10 of Ukraine’s leading photographers for Ukrainska Pravda, the largest Ukrainian news site.
The exhibition, which is supported by the Ukraine-Hilfe Berlin charity, runs concurrently with an identical presentation that is taking place in Germany’s Bundestag.
One of the exhibition’s organisers, Yevginiy Ikhelzon, told The Echo it was his hope that as many Cork people as possible would come to see the exhibition, which runs until May 30.
“The photos speak for themselves, you can see them yourself, and we will be very happy to see Irish people coming in, because Ukrainian people have seen these images a million times,” Mr Ikhelzon said.
“We want to show Irish people the scale of these terrible atrocities, and to meet them and say thank you for being such good friends to us,” Mr Ikhelzon said.
“The people of Ukraine have been resisting the brutal Russian invasion for almost three months, with the Russian army destroying more than 20,000 residential buildings, over 1,200 schools and kindergartens, and over 400 hospitals, and killing thousands of civilians and more than 200 children.
“The largest European country is experiencing atrocities comparable in scale to what was suffered in Europe in World War II,” Mr Ikhelzon added.
Today, Mr Ikhelzon said, the front line stretches over 580 kilometres, with fierce fighting occurring every day and dozens of towns and villages under fire.
“Thousands of people live without electricity, water and food, suffering persecution and even execution, and about five million Ukrainians have fled the country,” he said.
“Ukraine is fighting for democracy on behalf of all of Europe.”
He said he found it impossible to see any hope of a peaceful solution to the conflict in his country any time soon, as he believed Russian president Vladimir Putin’s ambition was to crush Ukrainian independence and redraw the map of Europe.
“There is now a border between Ukraine and Poland, and Russia plans to make this border a Russia-Poland border,” he said.
“I think this is a real plan that Putin has, and it will cost enormous effort of Ukrainians and Europeans, with the help of other countries like the United States and the United Kingdom to fight to prevent those plans from becoming a reality.
“If we fail, then I believe you will see him target other countries, former republics of the old Soviet Union, probably the Baltic countries, Kazakhstan, and maybe other countries that are not supporting his invasion of Ukraine,” he said.
Mr Ikhelzon, a former journalist, was in Turkey with his wife Svitlana, their sons David (five-and-a-half) and Damien (two-and-a-half) and Svitlana’s mother Halyna, when Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday 24 February, and the family decided to travel to Ireland.
They currently live outside of Castletownroche, and Svitlana is due to begin work with an IT company in Cork next month.
The photography exhibition is set to have a showing in July in the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum on Custom House Quay in Dublin.
“Ukraine: The Price of Freedom ” runs at St Peter’s Church, North Main Street, 11am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday, May 18 to 30. Admission is free.