Ukrainian photography exhibition in Cork shows warts-and-all reality of the frontline

Journalist who fled the war helps organise event to highlight devastating impact of Russian invasion
Ukrainian photography exhibition in Cork shows warts-and-all reality of the frontline

People hide in a Kyiv metro station, during an air raid. One of the exhibits showcasing impact of war in Ukraine which is now open in Cork. Picture: Dmytro Laryn / Ukrainska Pravda.

A veteran Ukrainian journalist who fled the war to Ireland with his wife and family has helped organise a photographic exhibition in Cork to highlight the devastating impact of the Russian invasionon his country.

Yevgeniy Ikhelzon, the former deputy editor of Ukraine’s largest daily newspaper, Segodnya, and who is now living in north Cork, said a similar exhibition opened in the German parliament building, the Bundestag in Berlin on Tuesday, and there are hopes to bring the display on a tour of European cities over the coming weeks.

Remains of a Russian airplane destroyed in Gostomel airport during fierce fighting. Picture: Dmytro Laryn / Ukrainska Pravda
Remains of a Russian airplane destroyed in Gostomel airport during fierce fighting. Picture: Dmytro Laryn / Ukrainska Pravda

The images, made by some of Ukraine’s most respected war photographers, were taken along the high-risk 580km frontline over the past two months.

They show the devastation of Russian attacks, Ukrainian cities in rubble, and the aftermath of atrocities in cities such as [url=

https://www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/ourview/arid-40858976.html]Bucha[/url].

The exhibition entitled, Ukraine: The Cost of Freedom, also sheds light on the pain and struggle of ordinary Ukrainian citizens, tens of thousands of whom have been resisting the Russian invasion for more than two months without food, water and electricity, and the millions forced to flee.

Mr Ikhlezon said what he and his fellow Ukrainians have experienced is unspeakable.

“Photographers and journalists have risked their lives in combat zones to capture the atrocities of Russian attacks on our towns, villages and people,” he said.

We are hoping the images will shed light on the devastation that is occurring in our homeland.

“We could not be more grateful to the people of Ireland for welcoming us in their country and providing safe refuge.

“We hope to take this exhibition to Dublin and that we can tour this exhibition around Europe to raise awareness of the gravity of the situation.” 

Mr Ikhelzon covered the Russian attacks on Chechnya and Georgia in 1999 and 2008 while working as the deputy editor of Segodnya and a war correspondent.

Borodyanka town near Kyiv was almost destroyed by Russian troops. Picture: Dmytro Laryn / Ukrainska Pravda
Borodyanka town near Kyiv was almost destroyed by Russian troops. Picture: Dmytro Laryn / Ukrainska Pravda

But just over two months ago, he had to flee Kyiv and he moved to Cork with his wife, Svitlana, also a journalist, their two children, David, five, and Damian, two, and his mother-in-law, to live in a house near Castletownroche, which was offered by the Cooney family.

He said he and fellow Ukrainians in Ireland wanted to do something to highlight the situation in their home country, and he used his journalistic contacts, and the network of Ukrainians living here now to organise the exhibition.

“For us, this is a political act," he said.

It is also a way to thank Ireland for everything that it is doing to help the refugees.

"That moral support is so important.

“It is so important for the many people who came here, for those who really suffered from consequences of this unprovoked invasion by the Russian federation, that Ireland has offered us temporary shelter, a peaceful life.

“We want this exhibition to show Irish people the scale of the war, and how really devastating it has been. It’s the biggest war in Europe since World War 11.

“The human, infrastructural and economic losses are just impossible to imagine and all for the stupid idea of politicians in Russia.” 

Difficult to plan

He said it’s difficult for him and his family to make any plans to return home.

“I would rather be in my apartment in Kyiv or having a coffee nearby but right now, that’s just not possible. This exhibition is our contribution to the situation,” he said.

Photographs have been provided to the exhibition by Ukrainska Pravda, Ukraine’s largest news website, with additional support for the project provided by the Ukraine-Hilfe Berlin charity.

Since the invasion began in February of this year, more than 20,000 residential buildings, 1,200 schools and 400 hospitals have been destroyed by the Russian army. 

Thousands of lives have been lost, with over five million Ukrainians forced to flee their home country.

The exhibition in St Peter’s on North Main Street is open to the public from 11am to 8pm each day, except Sundays, until May 30.

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