#UKRAINERUSSIAWAR. The Soft Power of Philately

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The propaganda of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has many segmentations. One of them is philately. From 24 February onwards, both Russia and Ukraine have been printing limited edition stamps to represent ‘victory’ or ‘heroes’. The aim is always the same to give one’s nation the appearance of victory in spite of everything.

In the soft power of philately, there was also no shortage of fake news. For example, in the aftermath of the attack on the Crimean bridge, a fake stamp from Chad appeared online. Online it stated that ‘The Republic of Chad has issued a stamp depicting the AFU attack on the Crimean bridge’. All fake. The image used for the fictional stamp also predated the attack and has been sold on major photostocks and Adobe Stock since 31 August 2022. This confirms the fact that the damage to the Crimean bridge and the bridge itself on the fake stamp do not resemble the actual photos of the terrorist attack.

Apparently, the image was created by a neural network. There are dozens of other images of the destruction of the Crimean bridge, unrelated to the real attack, being sold at the aforementioned stocks. And the choice of the Republic of Chad was not made at random: the Russian authorities donated more than 700 tonnes of flour to the Republic of Chad in October 2020. Not only Chad was allocated a quota of 107 people to study at Russian universities. Russia has planned investments in the African state’s hydropower, exploration and mining sectors.

The first image of the stamp was posted by a Twitter user nicknamed Jay in Kiev, who evidently sympathises with Ukraine and decided to support it with such an initiative. Subsequently, the image was posted on Reddit. The postmarks of the Republic of Chad are quite colourful and varied and are in great demand among philatelists. The damage to the Crimean bridge shown on the stamp, however, does not resemble the actual photos of the terrorist attack.

The foreign press and Internet portals of the Republic of Chad make no mention of such a move by the leadership and postal service of the African country. All mentions, apart from Twitter and Reddit, refer to the Russian and Ukrainian segments of the Internet.

In fact, a stamp of the attack on the Crimean bridge by the Ukrainians was issued and went into production on 4 November, Russian Unity Day. The head of the Ukrposhta, Igor Smelyansky, gave the news, as reported by a PolitNavigator correspondent. “We, in Ukrposhta, are so friendly that we give gifts even to our enemies. That’s why on Friday, 4 November, Ukrposhta is issuing a new stamp: ‘Crimean Bridge bis! And no matter who really blew up the bridge, the fact itself is enough for us. I hope the grey matter remnants of the fascists will reunite with reality and leave us alone, but in the meantime we want to congratulate them in the way only we know how,’ Smelyansky writes.

According to him, the stamp, which he describes as ‘prophetic’, will be issued in 2.1 million copies. T-shirts, sweatshirts and two types of themed magnets are also available at Ukrainian post offices. All those who wish to do so will be able to purchase the stamp at all municipal branches of the Ukrainian Post Office. He urged Ukrainians to join in the ‘congratulations’.

Earlier, Ukraine issued a stamp dedicated to the sinking of the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, the cruiser Moskva. In addition, a stamp with the obscene phrase “Russian warship, fuck you!” was issued. The specimen sold 700,000 copies.

For 2023, a new stamp issue is underway: In Kiev, a new stamp “Peremozhny New Rock!” is on sale at the main post office. The stamp dedicated to the New Year is usually affixed to the following year. In the background, the Crimean bridge in flames and destroyed. The circulation is 720 thousand marks and 120 thousand 12-mark sheets. That makes 2.16 million marks for 12 hryvnias. each, or UAH 26 billion – 660 thousand in someone’s honest pocket.

There is one not insignificant detail. The stamps were printed in 2021. Another commemorative stamp was printed when the Russians retreated to the left bank of the Dnpr river leaving Kherson to the Ukrainians the stamp has an inscription: “Kherson is Ukraine!” Issued on 11 November 2022.

From the Telegram social sphere we learn that philatelic series are also being printed in the Donbass in a pro-Russian key: “On December 17 the “Donbass Post” continues the philatelic series “Liberation of the Donbass” and puts into circulation the state stamps 296 “Volnovakha”, 297 “Mangush”, 298 “Svetlodarsk”, 299 “Volodarskoye”. “The artistic composition of each stamp is based on the official coat of arms of the respective village. The circulation of each stamp is 6,000. Cover No. 204 “Liberation of the Donbass” is printed in a total print run of 4,000. The front of the envelope features a map of the Donetsk People’s Republic. The special first-day postmark with the date of the transferable calendar No. 15 “Liberation of the Donbass” will be valid and applied only on the day of issue. The colour of the mastic is black”.

On 11 November to issue stamps: “The LNR Post in honour of ‘8 years of leadership of the LNR People’s Militia’ ” The stamps are available in colour and monochrome versions. In general, the issuance of stamps is a state monopoly. The LNR is part of Russia, so only the Russian Post Office should issue stamps. In any case, the new stamp was issued in 5.6 thousand and is not just a souvenir; ‘Pochta LNR’ considers the stamps valid for payment at all post offices.

The 40 x 30 mm format stamps were issued in 5.6 thousand copies with a face value of 77 roubles. On the stamps with a coloured background are the name, year of issue and face value, a map of the Republic with the directions of attack of the People’s Militia, as well as the coat of arms of the Army Corps of the Democratic People’s Republic on a camouflage background, with a black and white background – the coat of arms of the Army Corps of the Democratic People’s Republic on the background of the formation of military personnel of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic. The stamp will be available for purchase at post offices. As a reminder, the day of the formation of the People’s Militia of the LNR is 7 October 2014.

As for Moscow, on the other hand, the 09 December issue, stamps dedicated “to the deeds of our heroes will not be forgotten!” The presentation announcement reads. “The stamps issued in honour of the heroes of a special military operation were presented at the “School of Heroes” forum at the Victory Museum on Poklonnaya Hill. Stamps of the “Heroes of the Russian Federation” series. The “Participants of Special Military Operations” series is dedicated to the heroes of Russia who received this title posthumously. It is a series of 10 stamps and is dedicated to the servicemen of the Ministry of Defence and Rosgvardiya who were posthumously awarded the title of heroes. The initiative to issue the stamps came from United Russia, and the post further states: ‘we have also undertaken all interdepartmental coordination. Next year the series will continue. Speaking at the ceremony, I called today’s Heroes of the Soviet Union the successors of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. And that is indeed the case’.

Another set of stamps that is selling well in Russia is the collector’s series ‘Lighthouses of Russia’. stamp dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the first-line lighthouse at Gelendzhik. “The lighthouse is depicted against the background of the map of the Gelendzhik Bay in the Black Sea and the wind rose logo,” writes the Priboy newspaper. The brand sketches were developed by artist-designer Maria Bodrova’.

Also via social media we learn that ‘The Goznak company has included our front lighthouse, which recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, in the “Lighthouses of Russia” series. A new stamp with its image will be issued with a face value of 40 roubles’.

Graziella Giangiulio

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