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Annabelle Chapman

Eastern Notebook: Ballots and Chimney Tops in Luhansk, Ukraine

This week I was in eastern Ukraine during the parliamentary elections – specifically, in Luhansk province. Obviously, politics was on the agenda (and this is a Party of Regions stronghold). But there was also time to look around this lesser-known, industrial region, driving through the vivid autumn countryside dotted with factories. Most of the sights were monuments from the Soviet era.

"Welcome to Luhansk!" graffiti, author: Riwnodennyk, source: Wikimedia Commons

Apart from Lenin statues, there were memorials connected to World War II everywhere – some typical, others more unusual. A friend of mine visited (and actually recommends) the museum dedicated to the Young Guards; Molodaya gvardiya in Russian. This group of Communist teenagers resisted the Nazi occupation until their brutal death in 1943. They went on to become heroes of the USSR, shrouded in legend. The group, and now the museum, was based in the nearby city of Krasnodon – very close to Ukraine’s border with Russia.

Great Patriotic War Monument, Luhansk, Ukraine, author: jameswberk, source: Flickr

Джеймс Бонд. Remember how many Russians there were in the James Bond films? Russia Beyond the Headlines has compiled a list of the films’ top twelve Russian characters. There are both elegant ladies and KGB masterminds, with “authentic” names like Tatyana Romanova and General Anatoly Gogol. The actors weren’t Russians. I’m not a Bond fan, but the feature marks the 50th anniversary of the films and shows how Cold War rivalries were translated into the world of Agent 007 – and not only in From Russia With Love.

The Spy Who Loved Me (film) poster, by Bob Peak, source: Wikimedia Commons

Cleaning the camera lens. The fall of Communism in Eastern Europe pulled down certain stereotypes about the region, but also built new ones. This is the idea behind the work of 36-year old Polish photographer, Łukasz Trzcinski. His series New Europe.Atlas, is composed of photographs taken in fifteen post-Communist countries over the past fifteen years. He has used a variety of photographic approaches, often varying from country to country. “Ukraine is a place where anything but simple camera work would be almost sacrilege”, he told the New York Times. Read more and view his photographs from Slovakia, Ukraine, Kosovo and Albania.

Featured image: by jameswberk, on Flickr

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Journalist focusing on Eastern Europe. Her articles have been published in the journal New Eastern Europe. She has a degree from Oxford University and a weakness for languages (most recently Georgian). At Eastbook, she writes a weekly column, Eastern Notebook.

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