Want to Read: The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks: Life and Death Under Soviet Rule by Igort and Jamie Richards (Translator)

This book looks fascinating (in a horrible way). When the word “genocide” is mentioned in relation to the 20th century, people think of the Holocaust, and very occasionally of Rwanda. What they never remember is the genocides committed in the name of communism, such as Stalin’s genocides in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and the genocide in Cambodia.

The book is also a look at the atrocities being committed by Putin in (and outside) present-day Russia.

This looks to be an important read.

The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks Life and Death Under Soviet Rule by Igort and Jamie Richards (Translator)

The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks: Life and Death Under Soviet Rule by Igort and Jamie Richards (Translator)

Written and illustrated by an award-winning artist and translated into English for the first time, Igort’s The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks is a collection of two harrowing works of graphic nonfiction about life under Russian foreign rule.

After spending two years in Ukraine and Russia, collecting the stories of the survivors and witnesses to Soviet rule, masterful Italian graphic novelist Igort was compelled to illuminate two shadowy moments in recent history: the Ukraine famine and the assassination of a Russian journalist. Now he brings those stories to new life with in-depth reporting and deep compassion.

In The Russian Notebooks, Igort investigates the murder of award-winning journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkoyskaya. Anna spoke out frequently against the Second Chechen War, criticising Vladimir Putin. For her work, she was detained, poisoned, and ultimately murdered. Igort follows in her tracks, detailing Anna’s assassination and the stories of abuse, murder, abduction, and torture that Russia was so desperate to censor. In The Ukrainian Notebooks, Igort reaches further back in history and illustrates the events of the 1932 Holodomor. Little known outside of Ukraine, the Holodomor was a government-sanctioned famine, a peacetime atrocity during Stalin’s rule that killed anywhere from 1.8 to twelve million ethnic Ukrainians. Told through interviews with the people who lived through it, Igort paints a harrowing picture of hunger and cruelty under Soviet rule.

With elegant brush strokes and a stark color palette, Igort has transcribed the words and emotions of his subjects, revealing their intelligence, humanity, and honesty—and exposing the secret world of the former USSR.

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 their 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.

Jones 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 to 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.

The West just does NOT get it.

MKR-russian-ad-social Hammer and Sickle Communism

This week, there’s a suggestion someone finally might act on the disgusting ad for My Kitchen Rules that has been running on Australian television. Anyone who is okay with this hammer and sickle symbol but is horrified by a swastika needs to learn their history. Millions more people died just in Ukraine under that symbol of the Soviet Union than people did through the whole of Europe in the Holocaust – just let that sink in.

Both are evil. Both the Soviet and Nazi symbols are banned in some countries, but both should be banned everywhere.

That Westerners are fine with the hammer and sickle is utterly horrifying. That the world seems to think the symbol of Stalin’s genocidal acts is retro and cute is shocking. The deficiencies in people’s knowledge of history need to be fixed.

We are in a place in the world at the moment where we’re fighting a resurgence of Nazism. However, the very same people who are fighting neo-Nazis seem to be okay with ^^that^^. Being anti-Nazi doesn’t make Stalinism or Communism fine.

Bitter Harvest

bitter-harvest-poster-2bitter-harvest-is-an-upcoming-2017-romantic-drama-film-set-in-soviet-ukraine-in-the-early-1930s-holodomor-genocide

While everybody knows about the Holocaust, there was another major genocide in Europe in the 20th century that is almost unknown.

the-holodomor-stalins-genocide-in-ukraine-1932-33

The Holodomor, Stalin’s manufactured famine/genocide, is believed to have killed up to ten million people in Ukraine in the 1930s. Still denied by Moscow, this genocide has received little to no attention from the West, and none whatsoever from Hollywood.

A new film is due out now which tackles this topic, focusing on a Ukrainian Cossack couple. Keep an eye out for Bitter Harvest this month.

The Genocide Nobody Knows About

The Western world is largely ignorant about pretty much everything to do with the countries of the former Soviet Union.

This year it is eighty years since Stalin began one of the deadliest genocides in history: the Holodomor. Forcing a famine on the Ukrainian people, conservative estimates of fatalities hover around 10 million, running from 1932 – 1933.

The Western world largely chose to ignore the Holodomor for their own political interests, and then after World War Two, everyone was so horrified by Hitler’s activities, Soviet atrocities were all but forgotten.

Tonight at 7:30 people around the world are lighting candles in their windows to honour the millions of Ukrainians killed in this genocide. The – quite frankly, puny and pathetic – genocide memorial in Kyiv will be the centre of commemorations.

I visited the site last year, and will again next year. It stands in front of the rebuilt St. Michael’s Monastery, one of many structures destroyed by the Soviets. Rebuilt, it is a truly spectacular sight.