Here are some photos of my visit to Lviv, Ukraine. I stress “Lviv” because I think it is not like other parts of Ukraine in that while the war has touched Lviv in some ways, Lviv has not been bombed or attacked by Russian troops:
There is a curfew in Lviv and I arrived after that time so I had to wait to be picked up. I hung out at this center for refugees where they served food.
It was pretty cold that night. Eventually I discovered that the train station right across the street was open and a large hall there was heated.
I took these photos of kids. Mostly they were either crashed out or doing what kids do: Play on their cell phones. I wonder what they think of all this and what they will tell their kids.
I got the feeling of this elderly couple having packed up their life’s possessions – at least all they could pack – and fleeing before the invading barbarians.
Taken just as curfew ended. I was struck by the grim faces on these people
The next day, walking around Lviv. On first sight, you would never know a war is going on.
This is a little hint of the low income that exists in Ukraine, where people have to sell used books to survive.
Lviv is a very old city. Here is an impressive cathedral built I don’t know how many hundreds of years ago.
Every once in awhile, though we are reminded of the fact of the war. For example, for most of the time I was there, the sale of liquor was banned. So in this store you can see this tape pasted across the glass in front of the liquor cabinet:
You also see soldiers walking down the street. My guess is that these are soldiers who just returned from or on their way to the front. I only took one or two photos of the soldiers, and did that surreptitiously because a lot of photographing is banned for security reasons. For example, taking a photo of a military installation is banned.
You can also see the sand bags placed along basement windows:
Back to life as “normal”. I’m not sure why I particularly liked this little square:
But then there is this subtle reminder. The windows at the top of this building have tape across the glass. That is in case of bombs, so the glass will not shatter.
Not sure the significance of this graffiti, which says “Cossacks will never die!!”, complete with the anarchist symbol.
A guy in a square had target pictures of Putin and a pellet rifle. He was collecting money for the chance to “shoot” Putin. I took my turn. Overall he was doing a pretty good business. He claimed he was donating a part of the money he received to the army.
I came to Ukraine carrying five emergency medical kits which the comrades sent on towards the war front. Here they are packed up at the post office.
These shops with “Hanoi” all over Lviv confused me. I thought, “wow, there must be a large Vietnamese population in Lviv.” But I couldn’t understand it because I hardly saw any Asian people. Then it was explained that “hanoi” (pronounced like “nanoi”) simply means beverages – both liquor and soft drinks.
Another sign of the war, in particular the hatred of Russia. Here is a money exchange place. It gives the exchange rate for different currencies. Note Russian rubles on the bottom. They don’t accept them nor exchange for them.
This is a poster celebrating that fortress that told the Russian war ship to go f__k itself in response to the demand that the fortress surrender. Just recently, that warship was sunk apparently by Ukrainian rockets, so we see who got the last laugh!
On my last day there, our trolly passed by a funeral for a Right Sector leader who’d presumably been killed in the war. One of the main things I learned from my visit was about the far right, including the fascists. From what I’m told, they are more widespread than I’d originally understood. However, most of those who join or are close to them do so out of a different reason from in the West. Much of Ukrainian politics revolves around how people see the relationship with Russia. The far right, including the fascists, is seen as the force that is most determined to fight Russia, with arms in hand if necessary. So many people join with them not out of an overall belief in the basic ideas of fascism but more out of a desire to fight the threat of Russia.
But just a couple of blocks away, you would never know that this is a country at war.
Until I tried to leave Ukraine, and all the buses were held up at the border into Poland for over 8 hours. We sat on the bus for hours and then were allowed to get off, use the toilet and wander around.
I’ve never seen a situation where the presence of Fascism was so ambiguous. In all the other countries where it exists (like the US), there’s usually never any doubt. It certainly points to a situation where there is less than meets the eye. Unfortunately, the Putin lovers on the “Left” don’t need much to undermine the Ukrainian case for self defense while they ignore the overwhelming numbers of Fascists on the Russian side.
They don’t look ambiguous to me.
Arwyn Thomas: You misunderstand what Linda Mann means. She is referring to what it means to support Azov in Ukraine. There are anarchists, for example, who have joined Azov because they want to fight the fascist-loving Putin’s invasion. The comparison I can think of that is closest was in Syria. There, many Syrians joined fundamentalist groups not because they necessarily were religious fundamentalists but because they were the only ones fighting the fascistic Assad.
Great to see you John. Solidarity!
They may be fascists but…