2005-2008, Ukraine, . Boarding schools for orphaned in Staraya Bassan. Portraits of children.

There is nothing more sincere than a smile of a child, and for me, a smile of a child bereft of parental care is twice as moving. In the country with the population of around 46 millions, according to official sources the number of children without family is over 100,000. Children get into orphanages when their parents die or if they have been deprived of parental rights through the courts. It is not rare that the reason for termination of rights results from alcoholism of the parents and as a consequence, their inability to take care of their child. Alternative to the state orphanage system, family-type children’s homes start to appear in the country, and adoption is being encouraged by the government. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the orphaned children are kept, brought up and study at the state orphanages, where these children don’t feel like home because there are too many of them, they are bereft of parental fondling, of real welfare and social adaptation. Having graduated from the state orphanage, they are simply not fit for the life and don’t have certain basic skills. The amount of money allocated to orphanages from the state budget is clearly insufficient. During the presidential campaign throughout 2009 in Ukraine, which population was badly affected by the economic crisis, the topic of social support of families and orphaned children was actively exploited by various election candidates.

WWII Veterans

Ukraine, Kiev, 9 May 2009. The Last Soldiers of the Great War. Portraits.

Every year on the Victory Day, less and less of these old veterans in WWII uniforms take to the streets of Kiev and other cities. This holiday is celebrated in Ukraine and most other former Soviet Union countries on the 9th of May, and it is probably the last patriotic high-day uniting people in former USSR republics; the holiday which is sincerely respected by different generations. Ukraine suffered heavily during the Nazi occupation – destroyed cities and burnt out villages, population exposed to harsh repressions and execution. Kiev was abandoned to the enemy; and more than 100,000 of peaceful citizens, among them a lot of Jews, priests and prisoners of war were killed here by Nazis between 1941 and 1943. This war dramatically changed the geopolitical map of the world. Almost 65 years after, the reasons, the course and the results of the war were given repeated revaluation, thousands of books were written, and there is very few of living witnesses and simple soldiers of that war left. There is no country anymore, in the name of which they fought; their government remembers about their existence on holiday, vast majority of old people live in poverty; and politicians in the wake of presidential elections in Ukraine again and again exploit the topic of social benefits to the veterans, with little hope for change for the latter. Nevertheless, every year on the 9th of May surviving veterans go to the streets in their old military uniform, happy smiles of victors on the faces.