Kyiv Diary 4/28/22: Ukrainians Waited in Line for Hours to Buy a Commemorative Wartime Stamp

By | Apr 28, 2022
Kyiv Diary, Latest

Moment is publishing regular updates from Helen, a Soviet American Jew living in Kyiv. Read all the diary entries here.

When I went foraging for groceries yesterday, I saw a huge line of people winding around the block. Even in pre-war times, I rarely saw such huge gatherings. I didn’t realize that so many locals remained or had returned to the city. Many fled when the war began, and the streets have looked deserted ever since. 

When I asked what the line was for, I learned that people were waiting to enter the Central Post Office, which is a block away from my place, to buy a special postage stamp. The block of six stamps costs $4 at the post office; but on eBay, which is flooded with listings for this particular block of stamps, the price ranges from $200 to $2,000. One million stamps were printed and more than 700,000 have been already sold.

And now about the stamp’s backstory: On February 24, Russian ships attacked Snake Island, a Ukrainian island in the Black Sea, and ordered the border guards to surrender. One of the Ukrainian soldiers, Roman Gribov, replied in Russian: “Russian warship, go fuck yourself!” The phrase, which was captured on audio, quickly went viral. 

Ukrposhta, the Ukrainian postal service, announced a competition for the design of a postage stamp for the mentioned phrase. About 500 artists submitted their sketches, and the winner was Boris Grokh. The stamp depicts a Ukrainian marine with a lowered weapon in his hands, looking at the Russian missile cruiser Moskva in the distance. Two versions of the postage stamp were created: “Russian warship, go…! Glory to Ukraine!” and “Russian warship, go…! Glory to heroes!”  

Both stamps, which are accepted for payment in all post offices of Ukraine, were issued on April 12. Then, two days later, the Moskva was sunk by Ukrainian missiles, making the stamps even more remarkable.

The postal services started selling the stamp online last week, but when I tried to purchase it the site crashed. It turns out the postal service was the target of a serious cyberattack on Friday, and sales have halted for now. As for the eBay sales: Many want to make money, especially considering that a lot of Ukrainian establishments are closed and people are out of work. The government isn’t doing much to keep businesses afloat, and people are on their own. It puzzles me how they can survive financially.

Yet I’m sure that many people in line wanted to buy this stamp for patriotic reasons. It’s not just a collectible; it’s about Ukrainian pride, and Ukrainian victory.

Top photo credit: Ukrposhta

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