How Ukrainian art has fought Russian imperialism

According to the infamous article “What Russia Should Do With Ukraine” published by official Russian outlet RIA Novosti on April 3,2022, “Denazification will inevitably include de-ukrainization — the rejection of the large-scale artificial inflation of the ethnic component in the self-identification of the population of the historical Malorossiya and Novorossiya territories … Ukrainism is an artificial anti-Russian construct that has no civilizational substance of its own, a subordinate element of an extraneous and alien civilization”. This approach that is, perhaps, the clearest evidence of Russian war against Ukraine being genocidal in nature, includes the full elimination of Ukrainian culture and art as elements of national identity.

Ukrainian culture has survived previous attempts to crush it designed by the northern neighbor. The Russian Empire has repeatedly prohibited Ukrainian language (Valuev Circular, 1863, and Ems Decree, 1873 being the most famous instances) and, therefore, production of art in Ukrainian. Ukraine has been perceived as “Little Russia”, historically inseparable from the mighty Russian empire with its language and culture being a “spoiled” version of the more advanced Russian culture. The Soviet Union remodified this approach to a certain extent, but contempt towards national cultures remained, and this contempt would often turn bloody. The Soviet authorities have consistently persecuted intelligentsia and representatives of art community among other – the Executed Renaissance, a whole generation of Ukrainian artists killed during the Stalinist repressions in the 1930s, is just one example.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union Ukraine was, as many others, to a certain extent lulled by the hopes of the future Russia, liberal and democratic. Russian culture has become normalized – after centuries of enforced Russification and limiting anything Ukrainian – and so up until 2014 Russia kept its domination in Ukrainian information field. It included cinema and TV production as well as publishing. Everything changed in 2014, when Ukraine focused on nation-building and started investing in the development and protection of its own culture that needed support. Russian propaganda, already hostile towards Ukraine that has made a pro-Western choice, labeled these efforts “nationalistic” at best.

The truth is, however, very different. Watch Ukraine In Flames #157 to see for yourself.


  • Oleh Shcherbyna, producer, CEO Fresh production 
  • Slava Krasovska, Ukrainian actress 
  • Oleksandr Khomenko, Ukrainian film and music video director, founder of the “MUR” project 
  • Oleksandr Krasovytsky, Folio publishing house.

UKRAINE IN FLAMES project is created by Ukraine Crisis Media Center and NGO “Euroatlantic Course”. We are aiming at searching a loud support for Ukraine in the war started by Russia on the 24th of February 2022.

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