Curator and Activist Viciously Attacked in Kiev
This is nuts. What's going on over there?
The contemporary art curator and political activist, Vasyl Cherepanyn, was brutally beaten on September 23rd. The attack was first reported on the website and Facebook page of the Visual Culture Research Center (VCRC), the institution he directs.
“On Tuesday, September 23rd at 19.15, at the tram stop near the entrance to the Kontraktova metro station, a group of unknown men dressed in camouflage uniforms attacked Vasyl Cherepanyn and beat him up in broad daylight,” reads a message posted on the VCRC’s Facebook page. “The police were late to the scene, and the attackers were not arrested. Vasyl Cherepanyn received heavy injuries, including fractures of facial bones. He links this incident to his professional activity.”
A few days later, the VCRC’s website posted another image of a recovering Cherepanyn with this update:
“While the military aggression is carried out against Ukraine, aggressive young men in military uniforms carried out an unprecedentedly violent attack on the university lecturer in the center of Kiev. During the attack, the thugs were accusing Vasyl Cherepanyn of being a ‘separatist,’ which is totally absurd to anyone aware of his activities. These unfounded and absurd claims, along with accusations of being ‘a communist,’ are more and more often used by aggressive ignorants who aim to impose their ideology of hatred upon Ukrainian society, and to suppress any manifestations of critical thought. We demand a quick investigation of this appalling attack. We also demand to investigate the activities of paramilitary groups that use the war in Ukraine as a pretext to justify their own misanthropic views.”
Cherepanyn—who, beside his curatorial activities, has a doctorate in art theory and is a lecturer in the Cultural Studies Department at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy—organized lectures for activists and a support network to prevent the arrest of hospitalized protesters during the Euromaidan Revolution. The Euromaidan began in November 2013 and led to the resignation of Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych in January 2014, precipitated by his decision to strengthen economic links with Russia instead of the European Union.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture, was quoted in The Art Newspaper condemning the attack “as a manifestation of intolerance that contradicts the principles of democracy.” Meanwhile, its head, Yevhen Nishchuk, released a statement on September 30th declaring that: “violence and intimidation must not be used as methods of influencing the cultural sphere.”
The public beating of Cherepanyn resembles the attacks on members of the feminist group FEMEN in Kiev in the summer of 2013. These attacks, alongside those inflicted on journalists and members of minorities, have raised concerns about the deterioration of human rights and freedom of speech in the country, as outlined in a UN report released last May.
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