Friday, February 04, 2005

Photo: Alesya Malskaya

A Kyiv friend has just emailed me a link to this Moscow Times review of her friend's photo exhibition, "Revolution?" (45 photos of the Orange Revolution by Alesya Malskaya, at the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center). I'll go there first thing next week.

More amazing was what supporters of current Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko did to take it back. As tens of thousands filled Kiev's Independence Square to protest the initial declaration of victory for Yanukovych, creating a virtual city within a city, Malskaya snapped away, documenting what would soon be known as the Orange Revolution. She shot a total of 20 rolls of film, from which she selected the 45 photos that make up a new exhibition at the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center entitled "Revolution?"

The question mark isn't an accident. However well-prepared Malskaya was for the Orange Revolution, she wasn't at all prepared for the reaction of her Russian friends when she returned to Moscow, where she has lived for the past five years.

"I told a close friend how amazing it was to be there," Malskaya remembered, "how people felt they could change things for the first time in their lives, and she said, 'Then why don't you go back?'"

Similarly dismissive or cynical reactions from other Russians were what inspired Malskaya to exhibit her photographs publicly. Many of her Moscow friends were convinced that the so-called revolution had been a product of Western manipulation -- an attitude Malskaya attributes to a skewed portrayal of the Ukrainian elections on Russian state television. She hopes her exhibition will help change people's minds.


It remains to be seen how a still-skeptical Russian public will respond to "Revolution?" But when Malskaya showed a private preview of it to the friend who had asked her why she didn't go back to Kiev, the friend was noticeably less cynical afterward, she said. [...]

I'm actually very pleased to note that quite a few of our more or less close friends here in Russia wouldn't mind moving to Kyiv, even if that meant they'd have to study Ukrainian.

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