Year of Russian Aggression. Stop Russian Terror in Ukraine
Am 24. Februar 2022 begann Russland den landesweiten Angriffskrieg gegen die Ukraine. Das russische Militär und ihre Verbündeten begehen in dieser Invasion grauenhafte Kriegsverbrechen gegen Zivilist:innen und verstoßen gegen die Normen und Grundsätze des Völkerrechts. Die Folge der Invasion sind tausende von russländischen Soldaten ermordeten Zivilist:innen, unter denen 461 unschuldige Kinder, viele Verletzte, viele nach Russland entführten/deportierten Kinder und Millionen Geflüchteten. Die Ukrainer und Ukrainer:innen kämpfen seit einem Jahr für Ihr Recht auf Leben, für Ihr Recht auf Leben in Freiheit und Demokratie.
Galyna Skotnik (Ukrainischer Kulturverein in Graz „Ridna Domivka“)
Kateryna Movchan (Save_Ukraine_Graz)
Olia Fedorova (Künstlerin aus Charkiw)
Die von der Künstlerin Olia Fedorova gehaltene Rede am 24. Februar am Hauptplatz Graz
My name is Olia Fedorova, I am a 29 years old artist from the Ukrainian Kharkiv.
On the 24th of February of the year 2022 at 5 AM I woke up from my mother’s phone call, she said that our home city is being bombed by Russia.
On the same day together with friends and neighbors I had to hide in the basement of our house. We heard the sounds of explosions and roar of the warplanes above the city. We were confused and didn’t know what to do.
But we had no doubt that whatever was going to happen we would not surrender, we would stand up for our lives, dignity and freedom. We were completely different people, barely knew each other before, but we worked together to defend our shelter and make it comfortable for all of us, helped and supported each other.
And even though most of us then spoke in Russian language, no one wanted to become a part of he “Russian world”, each of us strove to live freely on our land, in the united and independent Ukraine – and we were ready to fight for this.
We were only afraid that the world like in 2014 would stay silent and turn a blind eye to Russian aggression again. But on that day hundreds of people sent me their words of support. Friends and acquaintances from different countries went to the demonstrations with Ukrainian flags and demanded from their governments to help Ukraine. Thanks to them, my voice as a Ukrainian, as a Kharkiv citizen, was heard, it spread through the social media, newspapers and radio stations and reached every part of the world. Then, while sitting in that basement shelter, we saw that we were not alone. I can’t even tell how important and valuable it was for us at that moment.
My friends from Graz, curators of Association for contemporary art Margarethe Macovec and Anton Lederer were one of the first who wrote to me on the 24th of February and offered their help. Three days later, Anton, who is translating my speech now, read my words out loud on this very site, during the demonstration in support of Ukraine. Then through him I told Graz about how I had to spend my usual day as an artist in Kharkiv. What I was doing instead of creating art, planning the exhibitions, visiting museums and galleries – what I used to do before and what artists from other civilized countries usually do. How I went up from the basement to my flat, trying to have at least a bit of sleep, but then heard another explosion and went down to the basement again. Several times a day. How together with my neighbors I made Molotov cocktails and searched for the enemy’s sygnal marks on the roofs. How I read the news about my friends’ destroyed houses, looked at the photos of the missiles that had not exploded and stuck in the soil amidst markets and children’s playgrounds. And along with hem – Putin’s claims that Russia had come to liberate us and that they did not fire at any civilians.The year has passed. Thanks to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and to my Austrian friends, I am safe now. I can walk under a peaceful sky and the Russian rockets do not threaten me. But still every day of my life starts with the news about another crime committed by Russia in my homeland. About bombings of civilian buildings in which my co-citizens are being killed, injured or lose their loved ones and their belongings. About the attacks on the infrastructure that deprive dozens of cities and villages of the electricity, heating, water supply and connection. About new tortures, murders, deportations, repressions that are revealed with every next meter of liberated Ukrainian territory. About the numerous ecocides and destruction of the cultural heritage of my country in an effort to turn it into a barren desert, to wipe my people off the face of the Earth.
Compared to the same period one year ago, today each of us sees clearly like never whom we are dealing with. We know about Mariupol, Bucha, Irpin, Izium, Kramatorsk, Vinnytsia, Dnipro. We finally convinced ourselves that our enemy, the Russian Federation, is nothing more than a terrorist state with which it is pointless to negotiate on anything, which understands only the language of force, so it must be repelled once and for all. That the continuation of its existence in the way it exists now – an insatiable empire that is always thirsty for blood – is a threat to our own very existence. Finally the entire civilized world sees this. And its support of Ukraine doesn’t go away. I still receive every day messages full of warm words, from people of different origins, different ages and professions – but each of them tells me that they are going to stand with us till the end. And thus I can assure you that like a year ago every day of my life is full of rage and anger, they only grow with each next Russian crime. My determination to continue fighting to the victory, to the fall and death of this empire grows as well. Unfortunately, I cannot take up real arms. Or fortunately – because every person should do what they are most skillful at. But my best weapon is myself, my energy and my voice. And I should use it at its full power, do everything I can. To support our Armed Forces, to continue to work for the benefit of Ukraine, as an artist, to promote its culture and art, as well as to tell and shout to the world about the crimes of the Russian Federation every day. But the most important – to tell and shout that Ukraine and its people will never surrender. And we will definitely win and come back home to rebuild our country, to work, love, live and die on our peaceful and free land. And to create new art, which, perhaps, will one day cease to be only about war.
I hope, I believe, that my usual day next year will be exactly like this.
Thank you and Glory to Ukraine