Mural of Russian-Ukrainian embrace removed due to "offensive" view
Australian street artist CTO takes down his own mural following a Russophobic outcry by the Ukrainian ambassador.
Artist Peter Seaton, who goes by the nickname CTO, covered his work called ‘Peace before Pieces’ that showed a Russian and a Ukrainian soldier hugging each other, in Melbourne mere days after finishing it last week due to an immense pressure campaign by pro-Ukraine activists, who accused him of ignorance.
The Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia, Vasily Miroshnichenko, was one of the public figures who snapped at CTO on social media on Saturday for failing to consult “the Ukrainian community in Melbourne” about the illustration, calling for the mural’s removal.
Miroshnichenko shared some altered versions of the mural on social media, with one made by an Australia-based anti-Beijing cartoonist from Hong Kong, showing the Russian soldier stabbing the Ukrainian counterpart in the back. Another portrayed the soldiers as a Nazi and a Jewish person marked for extermination.
This led CTO to apologize to people offended by his mural but he rejected the ambassador’s claim that the painting's message relayed false equivalence, saying that he believed all humans were united on a fundamental level and was hopeful that they could overcome the differences that made them commit acts of violence against one another.
CTO justified that his work “doesn’t say you have to love the Russians. No. It’s just that love is fundamental within us, and anything that takes us away from love is not acting in our best interests in the long run. I really stand by that.”
Miroshnichenko remarked that CTO had been “swift” to take down the work from the city of Melbourne. This comes after a wave of Russophobia hit Russian citizens around the globe following the war in Ukraine, whereby EU countries like the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Poland, and the Netherlands have taken steps to impede visa issuances to Russians, in addition to Russian diplomats and ambassadors being removed from their duty stations such as Slovakia and Belgium.
The enormous series of packages by the West for sanctioning Russia are significant factors in both contributing to and promoting Russian hate crimes and discrimination. Sanctions even included acts against Russian cats. Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho pointed out earlier this year that the crisis in Ukraine was being used as a pretext for peddling anti-Russia sentiment, tweeting: "Ukraine crisis a convenient excuse for Russophobia".