Ukrainian Political Cartoons Displayed Despite Administration Objections

An art exhibition of cartoons addressing Ukrainian corruption, and other political issues, was displayed in Kyiv’s Mykhailivska Square by the Institute for World Policy on May 18th, 2013, despite objections and censorship demands by the city officials. translated the article about the attempted censorship from the Ukrainian website for IWP, who wrote:

The officials had demanded that IWP remove from the exhibition 13 cartoons that dealt with such topics as corruption, selective justice, and politics as business, the IWP said.

The IWP, an organization dedicated to studying and analyzing world international relations trends as they relate to Ukrainian foreign policy, scheduled the event to correspond with Europe Day, a celebration of the formation of the Council of Europe and European Union in a continuing attempt to foster discussion between government and citizenry.

The institute described the exhibition as part of an on-going series called “Street Eurouniversity,” events where public leaders and experts have an opportunity to directly communicate with citizens. The Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine has supported the campaign, and had sent [head of the Kyiv City State Administration Oleksandr] Popov’s office a letter endorsing the project.

Initially given permission to display the works publicly, it was only shortly before the exhibition that the IWP received an official request to postpone, move or censor the exhibition.

“Negotiations with the Kyiv administration lasted for about a month and the permission was signed by Popov,” said IWP Director Alyona Getmanchuk. “However, five days before the campaign we received an ultimatum stating that either we postpone the exhibition for indefinite period, or to display the pictures elsewhere. In addition, outright censorship of art was put as another requirement.”

In all, nearly a third of the cartoons (13 of 40) fell under the nine topics objected to by Popov’s administration. In response, a Europe Day speech by Popov drew a group of protesters, who released white balloons inscribed with Ukraine’s various social and political ills and who turned their backs on Popov as he spoke.

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Joe Izenman is a freelance writer and musician in Spokane, Washington. He owns a lot of comics and he’s pretty sure someone, somewhere would be offended by more than a few of them.