Well-known Ukrainian broadcaster Peter Zalmayev is standing at a post office in Kyiv taking a selfie for his Facebook page. “This masterpiece was worth every hour in line,” he writes in the caption. Behind him, other customers are waiting to buy the commemorative stamp.
The image of a Ukrainian soldier making an obscene gesture at the sunken Russian Black Sea flagship Moskva was designed by Boris Groh from Lviv. It was the winning entry of a competition launched by the post office. The proceeds will go to support the Ukrainian army.
As soon as the final printing was announced, customers began lining up, in itself a testament to the grit of the Ukrainian people. The lines became an emblem of survival as well as celebration. Marble floors, large windows in the background, no debris or unidentified dead bodies.
What else might be on the agenda for this imaginary, almost normal day? Shopping, picking up children from school, reading a story to these children at bedtime, a quiet meal, a glass of wine.
I usually hear from Peter Zalmayev on FB Messenger in the morning. He sends a link to an interview he’s done on Canadian Broadcasting, CNN International, or even WBAI this week, so that I and all his other friends, acquaintances and colleagues can share it, thus creating a chain of information with a global reach.
I am sure that other recipients of these messages, which assure us he is still alive and working, bodyguards at his shoulder, reply as I do with a thumbs up, or words such as “received and will share,” or “thinking of you.” Peter has disclosed that he escorted his family to safety, but that like so many other brave Ukrainians, he decided to return to use his expertise and perfect English to help fight the Ukrainian propaganda war, and to secure the city.
Just imagine the logistics of broadcasting in the midst of missile barrages, the struggle to keep Wifi going, the constant worry about friends and family. How does one rest under siege?
In America, we are insulated from wars spilling over our borders. Not so the Europeans. And, as a nation, we have low attention spans and an inadequate knowledge base of geopolitics, non-Eurocentric world history, political science, international law, the Geneva Conventions.
As the Russian Bear unleashed its military, we were left ill-prepared to digest the horrors of such a war. No longer.
Carol Bergman, a much-published writer based in New Paltz, compiled and edited “Another Day in Paradise; International Humanitarian Workers Tell Their Stories,” with a foreword by the great humanitarian John Le Carré.