Twenty-seven year-old architecture student Angelina Gladushevska is one of a six-strong team running the Ukraine national stand on the gallery at Olympia. Her family are back home in Kyiv and she has an app on her phone which warns her when there is an air raid.
“They frequently have to take shelter in the basement of their apartment block. I know when there is a raid because I get an alert on my phone. They added that to the transport app. It means I can see what is happening. The raids usually happen very early in the morning, around 4am. The situation hasn’t been so bad lately, but I think the Russian troops will come back.”
On the stand is a selection of titles from the country’s publishers under the banner: ‘Russia’s War on Ukraine is not fiction but time to act’. The organisers include the Ministry of Culture and Information policy of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Book Institute, the Ukrainian Institute and PEN Ukraine. In an uncompromising bold statement they say: “After eight years of military aggression against Ukraine (occupied Donbas and occupied the Crimean Peninsula), Russia has launched an unprecedented full-scale war against our country. On 24 February 2022, the armed forces of the Russian Federation attacked Ukraine. As of 30 March, 1219 civilians were killed, including 148 children. Russians destroyed a huge number of civil infrastructure, including kindergartens, hospitals, libraries, and cultural properties. Over three million people took refuge in other countries.
“Russian invasion is the biggest and the deadliest than any other conflict that took place in Europe since World War II. United in bravery and determination, Ukrainians are fighting the aggressor on all fronts.
“We are very grateful to everyone for your invaluable support in recent months. You have done a lot to tell the world about Ukraine and the criminal war that Russia has waged against us. We really appreciate you being around. But we are very sorry that we barely knew each other before, that you knew so little about our culture and history during the last 30 years of our independence.”
They say the aim of the stand is “to present those publications that would help to understand Ukraine and its ancient and modern history and culture, as well as the reasons for the current war”.
Ukraine’s participation at the London Book Fair was made possible by a partnership with the British Council Ukraine within the UK/Ukraine Season 2022.