Postcards from Ukraine: Lithuanian singer Monika Liu became the voice of destroyed Mariupol
Lithuanian singer and songwriter Monika Liu, who represented her country in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022, tells the story of the destroyed city of Mariupol in the Ukrainian Institute’s international project “Postcards from Ukraine”.
Monika Liu is a compatriot of director Mantas Kvedaravičius, author of the films Mariupolis and Mariupolis 2, killed by Russian forces in Mariupol.
In the spring of 2022, the name of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol went around the world. During Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022, the Russian military resorted to a scorched-earth strategy while attempting to seize the city. This meant that civilians and civilian infrastructure were targeted block by block and one by one. This is how the world became aware of Mariupol, today a bombed-out, mutilated, almost extinct city.
However, before 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 the official founding date of Mariupol. The name of Mariupol, which the city bears after 1780, means “the city of Mary”.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Mariupol began to export products abroad and was later recognized as the metallurgical center of southern Ukraine. In 1933, the Azovstal factory produced its first cast iron. During the years of Ukraine’s independence, it became the national capital of metallurgy. Mariupol, home to almost half a million people, 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 soon liberated the town. Mariupol expressed his clear and firm pro-Ukrainian position. It then became the flourishing and attractive administrative and cultural center for Donbass investments 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 ruthless acts of terrorism.
You can annihilate the city. But you can’t annihilate Ukraine
Mariupol suffered catastrophic destruction: Russian forces killed tens of thousands of civilians in the city, and not a single building remained intact. In the second half of May, the last defenders of Mariupol, trapped in the area of the Azovstal plant, laid down their arms by order of the Ukrainian command. 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 destroyed cultural and historical sites in Ukraine. With support from USAID, a unique database has been created containing information on 100 monuments and allowing the world to see the extent of the damage and read each one’s story 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 Ukraine’s cultural heritage.