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Drawing the life he is not living: prison art by Ukrainian political prisoner of the Kremlin showcased in Berlin | Photos

Ukrainian political prisoner
Drawing the life he is not living: prison art by Ukrainian political prisoner of the Kremlin showcased in Berlin | Photos

Take a peek at exclusive photos from Atelier Soldina, an exposition space in Berlin, which saw the opening of an exhibition featuring the masterpieces of Viktor Shur, a 64-year-old Ukrainian political prisoner incarcerated in the Russian Federation since 2014.

Ukrainian political prisoner
As his daughter, Olha says, her father in prison is drawing the life he is not living.

Viktor Shur Ukrainian political prisoner of the Kremlin
Visitors stand with a poster in support of Ukrainian political prisoner of the Kremlin Viktor Shur during the opening of an exhibition of his drawings in Berlin. Credit: Atelier Soldina

Ukrainian political prisoner

Shur, a jeweler by profession, has drawn many pictures in prison. Often, he sends pictures drawn with a ballpoint pen drawn either from memory or copied from postcards to various people from around the world corresponding with him.

Viktor Shur drawings
The exhibition was organized by the German Letters to Political Prisoners initiative. The attendees had a chance to write letters to Mr. Shur, who has been deprived of liberty since 7 December 2014.

You can also send a letter to Viktor Shur or any other Ukrainian hostage held in Russia or occupied Donbas by joining the Winter letter marathon of the #LetMyPeopleGo campaign.

Ukrainian political prisoner
Viktor Shur is one of many Ukrainians imprisoned on espionage charges in the context of Russian aggression, both armed and ideological, against Ukraine.

Ukrainian political prisoner

Ukrainian political prisoner
In December 2014, Mr. Shur went on a work trip to Briansk Oblast, Russia. But did not return home. As it turned out, he was forcibly seized by the Russian FSB on the Russia-Ukraine border and accused of state treason and collaboration with the security services of a foreign state (Ukraine).

Ukrainian political prisoner

Ukrainian political prisoner
Allegedly, Mr. Shur photographed a strategically important field with flooded mines and a military aerodrome. According to the locals who let their livestock graze there and Shur himself, this field has no signs of being a secret object.


According to the man, the FSB coerced him into self-incriminating confessions by pumping him with psychotropic drugs and applying torture. Viktor Shur was granted a state lawyer, who served the interests of Russia but not the defendant.

Ukrainian political prisoner
Therefore, in October 2015, Viktor Shur was sentenced to 12 years of maximum security imprisonment.

Viktor Shur drawings
Particular espionage charges against a Ukrainian citizen are no coincidence. First, they enable the FSB to “shine bright” by showcasing their “deeds” in form of catching “spies.” Second, these accusations serve the ideological purpose of Russian aggression against Ukraine and blacken its citizens. Last, espionage cases allow for closed court hearings, so that violations of the defendant’s rights cannot be monitored.

Ukrainian political prisoner
Russia’s renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre recognizes features of political persecution in Mr. Shur’s case and thinks he may be regarded as a political prisoner.

Viktor Shur drawings

All photos by Atelier Soldina.

Ukrainian political prisoner

And if you write a letter to Viktor Shur, you just might receive an answer with such delightful sketches as our editor Christine Chraibi got:

Viktor Shur drawings

Viktor Shur drawings

Find out how to send a bit of warmth and support to Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin here:

This January, send a letter to a Ukrainian political prisoner of the Kremlin

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