An exhibition of Ukrainian photographs in Cork shows the warts and all the realities of the front line

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

Yevgeniy Ikhelzon, former deputy editor of Ukraine’s largest daily newspaper, Segodniaand who now lives in North Cork, said a similar exhibit opened at the German parliament building, the Bundestag in Berlin, on Tuesday and there are hopes of featuring the exhibit in a tour of European cities over the next few weeks.

Remains of a Russian plane destroyed at Gostomel airport during heavy fighting. Image: Dmytro Laryn/Ukrainska Pravda

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

They show the devastation of Russian attacks, Ukrainian cities in ruins, and the aftermath of atrocities in cities such as [url=]Bucha[/url].

The exhibition titled, Ukraine: the price of freedomalso highlights the pain and struggle of ordinary Ukrainian citizens, tens of thousands of whom have resisted 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 had been through was indescribable.

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

We hope the images will shed light on the devastation occurring in our homeland.

“We couldn’t be more grateful to the people of Ireland for welcoming us to their country and providing us with a safe haven.

“We hope to take this exhibit to Dublin and that we can tour this exhibit across Europe to raise awareness of the seriousness of the situation.”

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

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

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

He said he and his 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 organize the exhibition.

“For us, it’s a political act,” he said.

It is also a way of thanking Ireland for all it does to help refugees.

“That moral support is so important.

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

“We want this exhibition to show Irish people the scale of the war and how devastating it was. It is the biggest war in Europe since the Second World War.

“The human, infrastructural and economic losses are simply unimaginable and all for the stupid idea of ​​politicians in Russia.”

Difficult to plan

He said it was difficult for him and his family to make plans to return home.

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

Photographs were provided for the exhibition by Ukrainska Pravda, Ukraine’s largest news site, with additional support for the project provided by the charity Ukraine-Hilfe Berlin.

Since the start of the invasion in February 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 and more than five million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their country of origin.

The exhibition in St Peter’s on North Main Street is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, except Sunday, until May 30.

Tracey L. Sweeney