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Banksy mural featured in Ukrainian postage stamp

February 27, 2023

The stamp features Banksy's mural from Borodyanka alluding to Russia's Vladimir Putin as a black belt in judo, toppled by a little boy symbolizing Ukraine.

The Banksy stamp for Ukraine: A black-belt judo master is put to the floor by a small boy.
The Banksy stamp for UkraineImage: kyodo/dpa/picture alliance

Marking one year since Russia's full-scale invasion of their country, Ukraine has issued a postage stamp depicting a mural by British street artist Banksy of a boy defeating a grown man in judo. The phrase "Get lost Putin" has been added in Cyrillic to the lower left part of the stamp.

The mural was painted by Banksy on a bombed-out wall in the town of Borodyanka northwest of Kyiv, where many buildings were razed to the ground by Russian aircraft at the beginning of the invasion last year. Borodyanka was hit particularly hard by Russian attacks.

The mural portrayed in the stamp is part of a series of Banksy works that appeared in different parts of Ukraine at the end of 2022.

Banksy has traveled to crisis zones in different parts of the world and has created artworks that are known to convey a social or political message. 

Murals by elusive artist Banksy spotted in Ukraine

The underdog as victor

The face of the man being knocked down is not depicted, but it is most likely alluding to Russian President Vladimir Putin who has a black belt in judo. Last year, World Taekwondo stripped off Putin's honorary black belt to condemn the war he is waging against Ukraine.

The mural could also be seen as a reference to the biblical story of David and Goliath, symbolizing the unlikely triumph of the underdog, in this case represented by a young opponent as Ukraine.

"I think the boy is a symbol of a small Ukraine which defeats the big man, Russia," Nataliia Hrebeniuk, a local resident praised the stamp's symbolism. "It's very representative of the situation."

Ukrainians praise the new stamp

"We thought that this exact stamp, this exact painting would be the best representation of what every Ukrainian feels about our enemy," the head of Ukrainian Postal Service, Ihor Smilianskyi, said before postmarking the first stamp.

Enthusiastic residents queued at Kyiv's main post office to buy the new stamp last Friday.

Svetlana, a 50-year-old economist, was keen to purchase a stamp "because I support the Ukrainian armed forces" and "the stamp is printed at a historic moment", one year after the start, on February 24, 2022, of the Russian invasion.

Another enthusiastic buyer on its first issue date was Maxime who was delighted to see a "first stamp from one of Banksy's works."

The 26-year-old told AFP news agency that it's "a very cool gesture for the world to understand Ukraine," as it is important "that we remain in the spotlight."

sl/eg (AFP, Reuters)