Letters from Ukraine: 15/04/22 – Russian Bear

George Gittoes, Hellen Rose, and Kate Parunova travelled to Borodyanka to record the damage done to the town through video, photography, and drawing. Gittoes reports on a sombre, symbolically-loaded sight in the village.

A fat, stuffed bear sits above a pile of rubble on the only remaining floor of a destroyed building, between two gutted apartment towers. This soft bear wears a smirk. A slit has been cut between its legs and a piece of masonry placed to cover it.  At the bears foot there is the rotting skeleton of a cat.  

The question is, who elevated this stuffed bear up onto a throne of rubble?  The Russians to symbolise their victory or Ukrainian soldiers to ridicule them?    

Hanging from a seventh-floor window in the building next to the bear, someone had knotted sheets together to make an improvised escape rope from the apartments as they burned. I remember the TV footage of people jumping from the windows of the Twin Towers. The destruction I have witnessed driving to Borodyanka, today, has been like a thousand 9/11s.

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