‘Utterly offensive’: Australia’s Ukrainian community furious over mural of Russian soldier embrace

This article contains references to sexual assault.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia has joined the chorus of condemnation against an “utterly offensive” mural of a Ukrainian and Russian solder embracing painted on a Melbourne building.
The outpouring of anger from the Ukrainian community has prompted the artist to pledge to paint over it.
The mural, seen in Kings Way near the CBD, was painted in an attempt to highlight peace after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February this year.

But it’s sparked criticism from the Ukrainian community in Australia, who say it inaccurately depicts both soldiers are equally culpable in the war.

The mural has sparked great anger among Australia’s Ukraine community, calling for the artwork to be removed. Credit: CTO Art

Ukraine’s ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko said it was “disappointing” that community members in Melbourne were not consulted before it was approved.

He described it as “utterly offensive”.

“The painter has no clue about the RU invasion of Ukraine and it is disappointing to see it done without consulting the Ukrainian community in Melbourne,” he wrote on Twitter.

Community leader Stefan Romaniw described the artwork’s message as a drawing a “false moral equivalence between the aggressor and the victim”.
“What would people think if a mural featured a rapist and a victim hugging?” Mr Romaniw, the co-chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations, said in a statement.
“Trying to be ‘even-handed’ and accepting a false narrative that ‘all we need is peace’ in this case supports evil.

“It endorses Russia’s actions and enforces on Ukraine an obligation to accept attempts to destroy it.”

The artist of the mural, Peter Seaton, titled it ‘Peace Before Pieces’, and described the message of the artwork as “focusing on a peaceful resolution between the Ukraine and Russia.”
“Sooner or later the continued escalation of conflicts created by Politicians will be the death of our beloved planet,” he said on his website.
Not-for-profit art organisation Art4Ukraine Australia said that Seaton raised his artwork to the team, but Ukrainian artists said it was inappropriate.
The group said it was shocked he went through with the piece.
“Peter had presented this piece to our team, who explained the insensitive nature of the image and that the message was inappropriate,” Art4Ukraine Australia said in an Instagram post.
“We rejected his offer to create it as part of the project, yet he has progressed with the artwork himself regardless of our pleas for reason.
“This image is causing deep offence and hurt to a people who are already suffering enough.”
Seaton has since told SBS News he would paint over the piece.

“I’m going to paint over it. Quite happy to do a video about it today,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

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