• Руїна, or ‘The Ruin’, is a historical term for the political situation in Ukraine that covers the period of Ukrainian history during the second half of the 17th century. This period was characterized by continuous strife, civil war, and foreign intervention by neighboring countries.

    ‘They walk, walk and walk dressed in a medley of army uniforms purchased from surplus stores all over Western Europe. They walk, dragging behind them their booted feet and their baggage of post-traumatic disorders. Following the tracks of traumas, after the burden of weeks and weeks spent in the ruins — and these are not just any ruins — these are the ruins of their own world. The world they knew so well. The world that made them and the world they made. The world that once seemed to be unshakeable and indestructible is the world that now lies in utter fucking ruin. It all seems to be the same: the blocks of ats in Donbas are just like the blocks of ats in Kijow, Czrkasy, Tarnopol, and Winnica. It is all the same. Those destroyed Donetsk villages are of the same post-sovietskoje kind as the places they came from. So they walk and walk, dragging behind them the ruin of their world. Memento mori. They undress, fold their clothes neatly and go to sleep. However, it’s either too hot (the window won’t open) or too cold (the windows are draughty) in this cold room. Arm joints stiffen and muscles ache. Sleeping bodies shiver under duvets, not only from draught and cold. They shiver because they just turned twenty and have already witnessed the destruction of their own fucking world; because they shot at
    other young people who were just like themselves — not in the sense that all people are equal, and we — the humans — are essentially the same - not at all; they really were shooting at them fucking selves. They shot at Wowas and Pashas, who were brought up watching the same films and listening to the same music, who spoke the same language with the same kurwa maty. And fuck, the Pashas and Wowas were shooting back.”

    ZIEMOWIT SZCZEREK Tatuaz z Tryzubem

    On December 1, 1991 in the territory of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, which formed part of USSR, the sweeping majority (90%) voted in favor of Ukrainian independence. The supporters represented a clear majority in Eastern Ukraine, inhabited by ethnic Russians, and in western Ukraine. Twenty-two years later, following bloody protests in Kiev, which resulted in the ousting of the pro-Russian president Wiktor Janukowycz, there has been an increase in the separatist movements in Eastern Ukraine, further incited by a tacit support from Russia. As a consequence of the referendum — although it was not recognized in Kiev, nor in the West — the strategic point of the Crimean Peninsula has been annexed to the Russian territory, and cities of Eastern Ukrainian declared themselves as pro-Russian ‘People’s Republics’. New Ukrainian authorities tried regaining control over the rebel regions. The armed conflict which followed, as a result, has claimed the lives of almost 3000 civilians and an even greater number of soldiers on both sides who were poorly trained, and scarcely armed.
    Today, Ukraine is a country of extreme contrasts. As a post-Soviet state, it is being raided by corruption and unemployment. After stagnating economically for over twenty years, it is now at war with armed forces supported by ‘brother’ Russia. The consequences of the conflict and transformations are felt by the entire society.
    My aim for the past four years has been to create a photographic portrait of modern Ukraine; a post- Soviet state struggling with the shadows of history, widespread social issues and an uncertain future. 

A Mental Asylum in Svatowe (East Ukraine). Jelena, before the outbreak of war in 2014 had lived in Luhansk. She was educated as a designer artist. She has suffered from nervous breakdowns since the brutal assault by soldiers at her home which she shares with her mother

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Beginning of the school year in Droghobych (West Ukraine)

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A monument of a Soviet Jet (central Ukraine)

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A Roma boy rides a horse in the town of Wielka Berezna (southwestern Ukraine)

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Woman in tram train in the city of Zythomir (North Ukraine)

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Tatar refugees from Crimea in the Lviv region (West Ukraine)

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Former inhabitants of the village of Krupovate (Chernobyl’s closed zone, North Ukraine), celebrate the second day of Easter at the local graveyard

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A man carries his drunk comrade home in the village of Stari Koni (northwestern Ukraine)

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Burning meadows (central Ukraine)

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Men captured by police in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev (central Ukraine)

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The bridge in Zaporozhye (central Ukraine) has been sarcastically named the ‘monument of corruption’ by the city’s inhabitants. Despite the extensive funds spent on the construction of the bridge, it has never been finished

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BDSM party in Kiev (central Ukraine)

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The view over the abandoned city of Pripyat (north Ukraine,) near Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

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Women cross the border between the rebel- held and the Ukraine controlled territories in the Luhansk Region (East Ukraine)

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Easter Disco in the village of Melnyky (West Ukraine)

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Avdiivka Coke Plant (AKHZ) owned by Rinat Akhmetov, a Ukrainian Oligarch. Located near the frontline (East Ukraine.) AKHZ

was shelled over 300 times with at least 12 workers killed since the beginning of the war in 2014 

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Odessa (South Ukraine). A man jumping into the water at Lanzheron Beach

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A monument of Lenin in Svatowe (East Ukraine)

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People celebrating Ukraine’s Independance Day at Maidan Square in Kiev

(central Ukraine).

A destroyed Ukrainian tank near Donetsk Airport (East Ukraine) 

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A destroyed Ukrainian tank near Donetsk Airport (East Ukraine)

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Kola was raised in the neighbourhood of Mariopol. In August 2015, Kola, together with his 4-year-old brother Dyno and two friends, came across a grenade which exploded. Dyno died instantly. Kola lost both legs and an arm

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Sambir (West Ukraine). 20 year-old Wolodia Jureczko, was studying medicine in Kiev, Ukraine when he took part in the Maidan protest. At the start of the conflict in Donbas, he joined the voluntary battalion, Ajdar, and set off to fight in Eastern Ukraine without notifying his parents. He was shot dead in combat near Luhansk

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A female soldier of the National Guard of Ukraine patrolling the Stanica Luhanska (East Ukraine) suburbs, which were destroyed by shelling

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The inhabitants of Drohobych (West Ukraine) light candles along the road and wait for a convoy, carrying the body of a soldier killed in Donbas

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Kiev(central Ukraine). Campers take part in

tactical training during Azov Summer Camp for children. The Azov Regiment was formed in 2014, by Ukrainian far-right movements as a voluntary battalion fighting against pro- Russian separatists. The unit was described as having connections to neo-Nazism, with members wearing neo-Nazi and SS symbols and regalia; the unit has neo-Nazis among its ranks. Reports published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR) have linked the Azov Battalion to alleged war crimes such as mass looting, unlawful detention and torture. 

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Ukrainian soldier. (East Ukraine)

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A house destroyed during shelling in Stanyca Luhanska (East Ukraine)

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Wowa, a soldier from the Ukrainian 72nd brigade, looks towards rebel-controlled Kiev district in Donetsk (East Ukraine), where his family lives

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A soldier of the Ukrainian Volunteer Battlion known as ‘Aidar’

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Soldiers of the 72nd brigade preparing for patrol near Donetsk (East Ukraine)

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Destroyed military vehicles near Donetsk Airport

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Czonhar (southeastern Ukraine). Tytan, a member of the far right battalion, AZOV, poses against the background of a destroyed power pylon. In the summer of 2015, Ukrainian nationalists and Crimean Tatars started the “Citizen’s Blockade of Crimea” to suspend the transfer of goods and energy from Ukraine to the territory of the Crimean Peninsula under Russian occupation

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Ukrainian soldier. (East Ukraine)Soldiers of the 72nd brigade are unscrambling their positions hit by shelling (East Ukraine)

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Separ (alias), who comes from Lugansk (East Ukraine), was wounded while ghting for the airport with the separatists.He does not want to show his face, as he fears for the safety of his family

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Ukrainian soldier (East Ukraine)

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Grave of Ukrainian soldiers killed near Donetsk airport (East Ukraine)

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Soldiers of the 72nd brigade smoke cigarettes on the last Ukrainian positions, near Donetsk (East Ukraine)

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Truskavets (West Ukraine). Soldiers of the Volunteer Battalion of the National Guard — named after General Kulczycki — carry a coffin containig the body of their comrade, Igor Diday

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The project was co funded by the grant "Młoda Polska" from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

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