Ukrainians Embody the Power of Peaceful Protest | Sojourners

Ukrainians Embody the Power of Peaceful Protest

In the face of Russia's “special military operation,” citizens are leaning into over 100 years of nonviolent history.
A wall of graffiti made by Sergii Radkevych called "Fragments of Hope" that depicting two hands grasped the blade of a sword and breaking it in two.
"Fragments of Hope" / Sergii Radkevych

YOU NEVER KNOW where you’ll see the hands of Christ.

In central Kyiv, a mural depicting two elegant hands breaking a sword is surrounded by towering apartment buildings. Painted in 2016 by Ukrainian artist Sergii Radkevych, “Fragments of Hope” was one of a series of murals organized in response to the 2014 conflict in eastern Ukraine. It was public art on a mission to inspire a Ukrainian vision for peacemaking.

Radkevych combines religious iconography with street graffiti and realism. He pays particular attention to expressive hand gestures. “Fragments of Hope” became a frequent gathering point for protests in solidarity with eastern Ukrainians in 2017 and 2019. “This is my manifesto against violence and cruelty, a call to mutual understanding,” said Radkevych at the time. When I was in Kyiv in May, after more than three months of intensive Kremlin-led violence, I was grateful to find the mural still standing.

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A graphic illustration of Vanessa Nakate, a young Black female activist with shoulder-length black hair and a jacket. She holds a megaphone; an orange background with blue, green, and red geometric shapes is behind her.
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