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stamp

The new Ukrainian stamp

A Fiery Hello to the Russians

Abby Zimet

As Ukrainians continue to flee and fight and die amidst Russian-inflicted carnage, somehow they also improbably retain their fierce and often droll defiance. Thus, a recent thank-you letter from Ukraine's national anti-corruption agency to Russia's Minister of Defense expressing its "sincere gratitude" to him and his comrades for "participating in the methodical, systematic, and long-term theft of the budgetary funds of the Russian Federation," an embezzlement of resources that "should have gone to the needs of the army (that) makes it much easier to defend democratic Ukraine." In a similarly nimble act, Ukraine's post office Ukrposhta announced March 1 it was holding a stamp-design contest to hopefully reflect the times. Before the Russian invasion, it had planned a contest to mark the 30th anniversary of the modern Ukrainian stamp; Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and issued its first stamps the next year to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Cossacks in Ukraine. With the invasion, they revised the project to  “become a real art therapy for many in these difficult times for our country.” The design with the most votes would appear on an upcoming stamp, and be valid for international mail.

Ukrposhta got 500 submissions from kids, adults, artists; over 8,000 votes were cast from March 8-11. Many designs echoed the times: David vs. Goliath, sunflowers, clenched fists, bloodied warships and other images, Ukrposhta noted, "not often seen on postage stamps." The winner, announced Saturday, portrays what several others did: The Feb. 24 encounter between stoic Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island and a Russian warship threatening them, and the now-famous Ukrainian response, "Russian warship, go fuck yourself." (The soldiers, first presumed dead, are reportedly alive and held captive; one of two warships there has been destroyed.) The winning image by artist Boris Groh, who lived in Crimea until Russia invaded it too in 2014, shows a soldier on the island, the warship before him; one hand holds his rifle, one flips off the invaders. The stamp will soon be available at local post offices, said Ukrposhta, to “send to friends abroad or send a fiery ‘hello’ to the Russians.” All submitted images will be saved on a database, with some used "on other patriotic postal products." And yes, the post office is still operating. It's largely focused on making monthly deliveries - by hand, to their homes - of pensions to 3.5 elderly residents, many in rural villages;   since COVID, it also delivers state-subsidized food and medicine. Says its head, reportedly on a Kremlin hit list, "We will deliver it."


Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email: azimet18@gmail.com

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