"EMPTY WITH A WHIFF OF BLOOD & FUMES"

2014

bastashevski-state business-exhibition view
bastashevski-state business-exhibition view
bastashevski-state business-exhibition view

About

This work is a consequence of a research into state violence, finance, and media network in build up for the 2014 revolution and the ensuing war in Ukraine.

"Empty With a Whiff of Blood and Fumes" is a headline borrowed from a local newspaper that ran the day after the first casualty of Maidan Revolution. 

1.

Around 2012 state officials began to systematically assault Ukrainian activists, journalists and opposition members opposed to then President Victor Yanukovych. Each of the attacks directly succeeded the activists’ political protests or their attempts to resist the hijacking of city landmarks by businessmen close to President Yanukovich’s party.

2.

After the collapse of Soviet Union, Ukraine experienced a period of relative freedom of the press. The degree of press freedom varied from one administration to another, and is generally considered to have peaked during the administration of Yulia Timoshenko. However, a majority of Ukrainian daily media, magazines and periodicals remained financially dependent on oligarchs and while journalists were never directly told what to write and what not to write, each media outfit had a monitoring unit, usually of the political faction with which it was affiliated. The monitoring unit processed all media on a weekly basis, creating a detailed spread sheet of political publications to make sure the outlet was fulfilling its quota favourable or neutral articles.

3.

On February 22, 2014, two days after the flight of the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, a large cache of state documents was discovered floating in the lake inside his private residency in Mezhgorye. The recovered documents offered an in-depth accounts view of at least ten large Ukrainian companies’. At the same time, employees of “Arena City”, a business centre formerly owned by Sergei Kurchenko, famed Ukrainian oligarch with close ties to the Yanukovych family, attempted to dispose of forty-five large garbage bags of shredded documents. The contents of the documents varied from correspondences with high ranking officials and transaction details to photographs of desired and purchased properties, services, and luxury items. 

 

Hundreds of people immediately volunteered to help salvage and reconstruct the findings. While most of the shreds will remain a puzzle, they serve as a historic and cultural evidence of both: irrational faith in the rule of law, and an attempt to reclaim agency.

4.

In the spring of 2015, Petro Poroshenko was democratically elected a new president. Poroshenko’s assets are estimated were US$ 1.6 billion.