Lithuanian singer and songwriter Monika Liu, who represented her country at the Eurovision Song Contest 2022, voices the story of the destroyed city of Mariupol in the international project of the Ukrainian Institute «Postcards from Ukraine».
Monika Liu is a compatriot of director Mantas Kvedaravičius, author of the films Mariupolis and Mariupolis 2, who was killed by Russian Forces in Mariupol.
In the spring of 2022, the name of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol flew around the world. During Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022, the Russian army resorted to a scorched earth strategy while attempting to take hold of the city. This meant that civilians and civilian infrastructure were targetted block by block and one by one. This was how the world became aware of Mariupol, now a bombed, mutilated, almost extinct city.
However, prior to this devastating invasion, Mariupol had a completely different appearance as well as a rich and ancient history. Ukrainian Cossack warriors founded the city in the 16th century as a guard post on the banks of the Kalmius River. The year 1778 is considered Mariupol’s official founding date. The name of Mariupol, which the city bears after 1780, means ‘the city of Mary.’
In the early 19th century, Mariupol began to export products overseas and subsequently became recognized as the metallurgical center of the south of Ukraine. In 1933 the Azovstal plant produced its first cast iron. During the years of Ukraine’s independence, it has turned into the national metallurgical capital. Mariupol, home to almost half a million residents, was recognized as the best city in Ukraine in terms of public welfare in 2002.
During the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Mariupol was occupied. However, Ukrainian Forces swiftly liberated the city. Mariupol expressed its clear and firm pro-Ukrainian position. It subsequently became the flourishing and investment-attractive administrative and cultural centre of Donbas after the occupation of Donetsk. However, since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Mariupol has been besieged by Russian troops and the world has witnessed merciless acts of terrorism .
You can wipe out the city. But you can’t wipe out UkraineMonika Liu
Mariupol suffered catastrophic destruction: Russian Forces killed tens of thousands of civilians in the city, and not a single building has remained intact. In the second half of May, the last defenders of Mariupol, trapped in the Azovstal plant’s area laid down their arms by the Ukrainian command’s order. Since then, the city has been under Russian occupation and Mariupol has become a global symbol of war crimes against Ukrainians and Ukrainian cultural heritage.
«Postcards from Ukraine» is a project of the Ukrainian Institute that shares the stories of the destroyed cultural and historical sites of Ukraine. With USAID support, a single database was created containing information about 100 monuments and allowing the world to see the scale of damage and read the history of each in Ukrainian and English.
The project team calls on everyone to share the story of the destruction of Ukrainian culture, distribute the postcards on social networks and send them to friends abroad so that the world learns the truth about Russia’s intentional devastation of the cultural heritage of Ukraine.