On Friday December 15, 2023, ambassadors, art students and enthusiasts were gathered at the Pushkin art venue in Addis Ababa. Pushkin, the Russian Center for Science and Culture, has long been providing a space for painting, arts and the Russian language to students.
Named after Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, a legendary poet, novelist, dramatist and writer of short stories, the center was established by Emperor Haile Selassie I seven decades ago. Pushkin famously had African ancestry – it is often said he is descended from Ethiopians, though there is no proof.
On that Friday, art enthusiasts were gathered not to enjoy Pushkin’s masterpieces but to see war in the eyes of Russian arts.
The art buffet launched at Pushkin on the day included a photographic exhibition, a Russian movie, and art works that depict the impacts of wars between the west and Russia.
The photographic exhibition showcased the extent of war crimes committed by NATO during the former Yugoslavia conflict and shed light on alleged crimes against humanity in Ukraine. The exhibition aimed to raise awareness about these atrocities by displaying powerful photographs depicting the harrowing consequences of war. The images on the walls vividly portrayed scenes of death, injuries, and widespread displacement, effectively capturing the anguish experienced by numerous individuals. The exhibition also served as a poignant reminder of the personal stories of over a hundred people affected by these tragic events.
Among the attendees were students from the Russian Center for Science and Culture – Pushkin, who were visibly moved by the stories of the individuals depicted on the walls. The students’ expressions revealed a deep sense of sadness as they absorbed the narratives of those affected by war crimes. Their empathetic response demonstrated a genuine emotional connection to the suffering endured by the victims, reflecting their capacity for compassion and understanding.
Throughout the exhibition, the students were observed engaging in quiet conversations with one another. It was evident that they were discussing and reflecting on the profound impact of the photographs they had witnessed. Their somber tones and gestures conveyed a collective sense of empathy and reverence for the victims, indicating a sincere desire to grapple with the magnitude of the atrocities committed during these conflicts.
The students displayed a remarkable level of attentiveness and sensitivity as they moved from one photograph to another. They carefully examined each image, absorbing the details and narratives portrayed within. This attentive approach signaled their willingness to confront the harsh realities of war and their determination to honor the memory of the victims by acknowledging their stories.
The exhibition not only evoked an emotional response from the students but also affected the attending guests. The presence of the Russian Center for Science and Culture – Pushkin students, alongside other guests, created an atmosphere of shared sorrow and reflection. The collective sadness observed among the guests suggested that the exhibition successfully conveyed the gravity of the war crimes and resonated with the wider audience, fostering a collective sense of empathy and a shared commitment to justice and peace.
The exhibition aimed to shed light on the war crimes committed by NATO during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and draw attention to Ukraine’s alleged crimes against humanity.
The event attracted a diverse group of guests, including diplomats, scholars, and individuals passionate about gaining a comprehensive understanding of these significant historical events.
In his compelling opening remarks, Russian Ambassador Evgeny Terekhin emphasized the devastating consequences of NATO’s aggression against Serbia in March 1999.
He accused the alliance of launching a campaign of barbaric air strikes under the pretext of a humanitarian intervention.
The exhibition effectively portrayed the destruction inflicted upon peaceful cities and villages, including critical civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, bridges, passenger transport, and refugee columns. Shockingly, it was revealed that over 2,000 missiles were launched, accompanied by 14,000 bombs and other munitions, including the use of depleted uranium.
Ambassador Terekhin lamented the loss of hundreds of Yugoslav law enforcement officers and more than 2,000 civilians, including 88 children, during the 78-day NATO bombing campaign.
Expressing his disappointment, Ambassador Terekhin highlighted the West’s failure to comprehend the true consequences of their actions. While the West proclaimed to have defended freedom and democracy, the Ambassador argued that their intervention undermined the international-law foundation and the post-war international order embodied in the UN Charter.
He pointed out the lack of attention and accountability from international judicial agencies towards the substantial casualties and destruction caused by NATO’s actions, raising concerns about the selective application of justice.
Shifting focus to Ukraine, Ambassador Terekhin attributed the rise of Ukrainian nationalism and Nazism to external influences throughout history.
He argued that Ukrainian nationalism was fostered by Austria-Hungary and Hitler’s Germany, and subsequently nurtured by the United States and Great Britain.
According to the Ambassador, these external players sought to divide the triune Russian people and cultivate an “anti-Russia” sentiment.
He claimed that remnants of Ukrainian nationalism found refuge in the United States and Canada following World War II, and their descendants played a significant role in the establishment of a new Ukrainian pro-Western state after the dissolution of the USSR.
The Ambassador highlighted the emergence of a new wave of Ukrainian Nazism deeply rooted in modern European nationalist principles.
He argued that Ukraine has become a global hub for neo-Nazism, with the Ukrainian government allegedly adopting Nazi slogans, practices, and glorification of Nazi figures, all under the influence of their Western patrons.
The Ambassador criticized the governments of EU countries for disregarding the threat posed by the resurgence of Nazism and warned against the inherent racism and colonial ideology that accompanies it.
In addition to the exhibition, a book launch took place featuring “Ukraine’s Crimes Against Humanity” by Maxim Grigoriev, Chairman of the Foundation for the Study of Democracy.
This comprehensive book presented over 600 testimonies from victims and eyewitnesses, meticulously documenting alleged war crimes and terrorist acts committed against civilians in Ukraine between 2022 and 2023. It delved into the systematic destruction of fundamental aspects of human life, faith, and dignity, providing a sobering account of the suffering endured by innocent people.
The exhibition showcased various photographs, and a movie that captured the human tragedy and devastation caused by NATO’s actions in Yugoslavia and the alleged crimes in Ukraine.
Visitors were able to explore the exhibition at their own pace, immersing themselves in the historical context and gaining insights into the complex geopolitical dynamics of these conflicts.
Attendees had the opportunity to engage with diplomats, exchanging viewpoints and perspectives on the topics presented. The interactive sessions aimed to encourage critical thinking and foster a nuanced understanding of the events, urging participants to question prevailing narratives and explore alternative interpretations.
In his closing speech, Ambassador Terekhin underscored the importance of facing the truth and remaining vigilant to prevent the recurrence of similar horrors in the future.
He called upon attendees to confront the criminal ideology and practices of Nazism, stressing the significance of preserving human life, faith, and dignity.
The Ambassador emphasized the need for a collective effort to promote peace, justice, and human rights on a global scale.
The exhibition and book launch provided a crucial platform for critical discourse and reflection, encouraging attendees to question prevailing narratives and seek a more nuanced understanding of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Ukraine.
By presenting alternative perspectives, the event aimed to challenge conventional interpretations and foster dialogue towards a comprehensive comprehension of the complex geopolitical issues at hand. It called for a collective commitment to prevent the repetition of such atrocities and to uphold the values of peace, justice, and human rights worldwide.
The exhibition’s comprehensive documentation and testimonies provided a basis for ongoing research and analysis, contributing to a deeper understanding of the historical events and their implications for international law and justice.
The selective application of justice and the lack of accountability highlighted by Ambassador Terekhin sparked discussions about the need for impartial and comprehensive investigations into all parties involved in conflicts.
He noted that the exhibition served as a reminder of the importance of upholding human rights and ensuring that those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity are held accountable, regardless of their geopolitical affiliations.
The event’s impact extended beyond its duration, stimulating further investigations, diplomatic discussions, and public awareness on the issues raised.