I cannot help thinking about the many young Russian soldiers who were were deceived into fighting in Ukraine. What great worry and sorrow their families and friends must feel. It is obvious that a multitude of Russians are opposed to Putin’s evil war. And now he has even engaged the military help of his sub-demon lackey in Belarus, the dictator Alexander Lukashenko. Let us all hope this nightmare for Ukraine soon comes to a peaceful end with Ukraine’s independence preserved. But let us not also forget that it is a nightmare too for many Russians who want nothing to do with Putin’s criminal madness.
In the Ukrainian National Museum in Lviv is what is considered to be the finest iconostasis in Ukraine. It was painted 1697-99 and is the work of Ivan Rutkovych (Іван Руткович). It is known as the Nova Skvariava iconostasis. Rutkovych worked mostly in Zhovkva, and is considered part of the Zhovkva School of iconographers. His work combined traditional Byzantine notions with western European baroque influence, resulting in very pleasant images without the severity so often found in Byzantine and traditional Russian iconography.
This mixture of Eastern and Western added a certain gentleness and kindness to the faces in the iconostasis, as seen in this central Deisis image:
It may also be seen in the faces of the Archangel Gabriel —
And even in the face of St. Michael, the weigher of souls in the afterlife. Michael is the patron saint of Kyiv, the capital city that is now under siege by the Russian forces.
Here is the modern statue of Michael atop the Lyadska Brama (Lyadsky Gate) in the “Maidan” — Independence Square — Kyiv.
An open letter from Russian scientists and science journalists against the war with Ukraine
24.02.2022 / February 24, 2022
We, Russian scientists and scientific journalists, declare a strong protest against the hostilities launched by the armed forces of our country on the territory of Ukraine. This fatal step leads to huge human losses and undermines the foundations of the established system of international security. The responsibility for unleashing a new war in Europe lies entirely with Russia.
There is no rational justification for this war. Attempts to use the situation in Donbas as a pretext for launching a military operation do not inspire any confidence. It is clear that Ukraine does not pose a threat to the security of our country. The war against it is unfair and frankly senseless.
Ukraine has been and remains a country close to us. Many of us have relatives, friends and scientific colleagues living in Ukraine. Our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought together against Nazism. Unleashing a war for the sake of the geopolitical ambitions of the leadership of the Russian Federation, driven by dubious historiosophical fantasies, is a cynical betrayal of their memory.
We respect Ukrainian statehood, which rests on really working democratic institutions. We treat the European choice of our neighbors with understanding. We are convinced that all problems in relations between our countries can be resolved peacefully.
Having unleashed the war, Russia doomed itself to international isolation, to the position of a pariah country. This means that we, scientists, will no longer be able to do our job normally: after all, conducting scientific research is unthinkable without full cooperation with colleagues from other countries. The isolation of Russia from the world means further cultural and technological degradation of our country in the complete absence of positive prospects. War with Ukraine is a step to nowhere.
It is bitter for us to realize that our country, together with other republics of the former USSR, which made a decisive contribution to the victory over Nazism, has now become the instigator of a new war on the European continent. We demand an immediate halt to all military operations directed against Ukraine. We demand respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state. We demand peace for our countries.
It took a lot of courage for them to post this clear declaration at a time when dissent is being so severely punished in Russia. The letter has a huge number of signatures affirming its statements.
At the end of this posting you will find the letter in Russian.
Here is an icon by the Ukrainian painter Yov Kondzelevich (Йов Кондзелевич), who was born in Zhovkva in the Lviv region in 1667. He later became both a monk at the Bialystok monastery and an iconographer, and was involved in painting both individual icons and iconostases. He death is placed between 1740-48.
The inscription on the book is a variation on Revelation 3:5-6:
He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and his throne. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says …. ————————————————————-
Here follows the statement given at the beginning of this posting in Russian.
Открытое письмо российских ученых и научных журналистов против войны с Украиной
Мы, российские ученые и научные журналисты, заявляем решительный протест против военных действий, начатых вооружёнными силами нашей страны на территории Украины. Этот фатальный шаг ведёт к огромным человеческим жертвам и подрывает основы сложившейся системы международной безопасности. Ответственность за развязывание новой войны в Европе целиком лежит на России.
Для этой войны нет никаких разумных оправданий. Попытки использовать ситуацию в Донбассе как повод для развёртывания военной операции не вызывают никакого доверия. Совершенно очевидно, что Украина не представляет угрозы для безопасности нашей страны. Война против неё несправедлива и откровенно бессмысленна.
Украина была и остаётся близкой нам страной. У многих из нас в Украине живут родственники, друзья и коллеги по научной работе. Наши отцы, деды и прадеды вместе воевали против нацизма. Развязывание войны ради геополитических амбиций руководства РФ, движимого сомнительными историософскими фантазиями, есть циничное предательство их памяти.
Мы уважаем украинскую государственность, которая держится на реально работающих демократических институтах. Мы с пониманием относимся к европейскому выбору наших соседей. Мы убеждены в том, что все проблемы в отношениях между нашими странами могут быть решены мирным путём.
Развязав войну, Россия обрекла себя на международную изоляцию, на положение страны-изгоя. Это значит, что мы, учёные, теперь не сможем нормально заниматься своим делом: ведь проведение научных исследований немыслимо без полноценного сотрудничества с коллегами из других стран. Изоляция России от мира означает дальнейшую культурную и технологическую деградацию нашей страны при полном отсутствии позитивных перспектив. Война с Украиной — это шаг в никуда.
Нам горько сознавать, что наша страна вместе с другими республиками бывшего СССР, внесшая решающий вклад в победу над нацизмом, сейчас стала поджигателем новой войны на европейском континенте. Мы требуем немедленной остановки всех военных действий, направленных против Украины. Мы требуем уважения суверенитета и территориальной целостности украинского государства. Мы требуем мира для наших стран.
Граждане России, встаньте и потребуйте, чтобы Путин прекратил эту злую войну в Украине. Citizens of Russia, rise up and demand that Putin end this evil war in Ukraine.
If we go deep into the history of Ukraine, to a time when history and legend mix, we find the very sad tale of the princely brothers Boris and Glib, whom you have already met as Boris and Gleb.
Here is a late 16th century icon of the pair from the Church of the Holy Spirit in the west Ukrainian Lviv region.
Here is what I wrote about them previously:
Great Prince Vladimir converted his people to Eastern Orthodoxy Christianity by edict, basically “Convert or else…”. That is why he is a saint in Eastern Orthodoxy.
According to the old story, when Vladimir died, advisors told Boris that he should eliminate his half-brother Svyatopolk, the eldest son of Vladimir, and take control. Boris refused to raise his hand against his brother.
Svyatopolk, however, was not so ethical. He sent assassins to kill Boris. They supposedly found him praying before an icon of Jesus. When he saw what was happening, Boris submissively prayed for strength and allowed himself to be killed. Svyatopolk wanted all the wealth and power, with no possible rivals.
Svyatopolk then sent word to the other brother, Gleb, saying that he should come because their father was ill. On his way there by boat, news came to him that their father had died and that his brother Boris had been assassinated by Svyatopolk. He wept for them. His boat was taken by the assassins, and Gleb too was killed.
Because of their innocent and submissive deaths (at least according to the account passed down), Boris and Gleb were declared the first “native” saints of Kyivan Rus.
When thinking of the murderous Svyatopolk, one cannot help thinking too of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin today, who is currently murdering Ukrainian men, women and children — as well as making murderers out of Russian soldiers and using them as disposable pawns — through his insanely evil greed for power.
Given the horrendous situation in Ukraine at present — entirely due to Putin going “full Hitler” and completely without conscience, some of my postings from today through the coming days may be a little different. The Ukraine catastrophe has turned the world upside down, so it is difficult to just write as I usually do here. I hope that nonetheless you will find what I post helpful in some way, with a bit of background insight on icons.
First, I would like to share with you something a Ukrainian-born friend wrote (I edited it somewhat). It will give you a little partial insight into why Ukraine so determinedly wants to preserve its independence from Russia. He says:
“It is very difficult and depressing to write at the moment due to what is going on in Ukraine. But I will tell you a couple of things about the Holodomor, the extermination by famine that Moscow inflicted on the most fertile soils of the world during 1932 – 33. From 7.5 up to 10 million Ukrainian peasants were starved to death in order to diminish the number of Ukrainian farmers who were very attached to their land and culture. There were areas where entire villages were dead. To prevent people from fleeing to cities or to other areas, the villages were surrounded by Russian military forces. Grain and potatoes stored for winter, including planting materials and even food for the day, prepared in the oven, were taken away by special Moscow squads. It was done in October, so there was no way to grow food to survive through the winter. This was the biggest genocide of the century after the Armenian genocide in 1915 and Nazi genocide of Jews during the WWII.
That was by no means all. At the same time, Moscow arrested and killed all the national intelligentsia, poets, writers, journalists, teachers, folk singers and the Ukrainian folk troubadours, known as lirniks. Ukraine was unique as a European nation in keeping this tradition from disappearing in the 20th century. So, 2,500 lirniks [see also ‘kobzars’] were called by Stalin to a pan-Ukrainian congress. All of them were arrested and killed.
It is known also that there were mass arrests and deportation to Siberia of 20,000 young Ukrainian girls 12 -15 years old. They were killed by drowning in Siberian lakes and rivers to prevent them, as KGB documents said, ‘from giving birth to Ukrainian nationally-conscious patriots.’ Such was and still is the policy of Moscow with regard to Ukrainian culture, language, etc. 50% of all political prisoners in the concentration camps consisted of Ukrainians (data provided by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel prize laureate, in his book The Gulag Archipelago). For years Putin and Russian propaganda have talked about “de-Nazification” of Ukraine, calling all nationally-conscious Ukrainians, writers, and poets ‘Nazis.’
It is a term propagated by Russian internet squads paid by the KGB to misrepresent Ukrainian patriots as Nazis. And surprisingly the term is being used by many European and American journalists who repeat what Moscow says. It is a kind of justification of the planned extermination of Ukrainian intellectuals as before. Moscow politicians, including parliament and Putin himself, talk about it almost without stopping. The Western media, especially those of America, are so poorly educated in the subject that Westerners know practically nothing about the real situation in the newly-independent countries, particularly about Ukraine.”
My friend’s comments make grim reading, and they are sadly only the tip of the iceberg of what Ukraine has suffered under Russian domination. But this site is primarily about icons, so I will add to today’s posting a couple of links. The first is to an article about a contemporary Ukrainian folk painter of pleasant “folk” icons that you may find of interest. The link is via Google Translate, and I hope it will still be there when you try to access it:
Let us all hope for peace and independence for Ukraine, and for better times.
I HOPE ALL READERS OF THIS SITE WILL SHARE MY GREAT SORROW AND DISGUST AT THE TRAGIC, DECEITFULLY AND CAREFULLY PLANNED VIOLENT ATTACK BY PUTIN AND RUSSIAN FORCES ON THE SOVEREIGN NATION AND PEOPLE OF UKRAINE. HE HAS THE BLOOD OF BOTH RUSSIANS AND UKRAINIANS ON HIS HANDS. I AM SURE YOU WILL ALL UNDERSTAND IF I DON’T POST ANYTHING ABOUT RUSSIAN ICONS FOR A WHILE.