World Stamps

Ukraine stamp delivers not-so-subtle message to Putin

Mar 9, 2023, 1 PM
Ukraine commemorated the first anniversary of the Russian invasion and resulting war with a semipostal stamp showing a mural created by street artist and political activist Banksy on the wall of a damaged building in Ukraine.

By Denise McCarty

Ukraine continues to deliver defiant messages to Russia via stamp designs one year after the invasion began on Feb. 24, 2022.

Ukrposhta (Ukraine’s post office) calls its latest stamp “FCK PTN,” and those letters appear in Cyrillic in the lower left of the design. And while the words aren’t spelled out, it is not hard to fill in the missing letters in this message directed to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

That stamp, issued on Feb. 24 for the one-year anniversary, also has received worldwide attention for its design, a mural created by street artist and political activist Banksy on the wall of a damaged building in Borodyanka, near Kyiv. The mural depicts the duel of two judokas (students of judo), in which a boy is throwing a grown man.

In its announcement for this stamp, Ukrposhta said: “A little boy who knocks out a grown man is an allegorical image — this is the struggle of Ukraine against the russian federation. Our small country, compared to russia, courageously entered into an unequal battle with the enemy and, despite all the difficulties, is fighting for the Victory.”

Ukrposhta CEO Igor Smelyansky added that the design may become prophetic. “And in 2023, Ukraine, which is smaller in terms of territory but hundreds of times more motivated, will finally ‘pin russia to the
mat,’ ” he said.

The mural was one of seven Banksy created during a secret visit to Ukraine in the fall of 2022. The Art Newspaper first reported on the murals in November.

A Nov. 11 report by Benjamin Sutton for that publication mentioned the specific mural that later was selected for the stamp design, and Anny Shaw provided more details in a Nov. 14 report, writing that Banksy confirmed to the Art Newspaper that he “created seven murals in various locations in Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, the suburb of Irpin and the town of Borodyanka — among the places hardest hit by Russian bombardments.”

Banksy is the pseudonym of a British street artist who has not publicly revealed his identity, despite achieving worldwide fame since emerging in the early 1990s as a street artist in Bristol, England.

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