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About 700,000 stamps depicting a Ukrainian fighter holding up a middle finger in front of the now-sunken flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet have been sold in about a week, as Ukrainians waited in long lines outside post offices to buy a commemorative token that has become associated with one of Kyiv’s most notable wins during the war.
And in another instance underscoring continued defiance as Russia’s invasion grinds into a ninth week, an art studio in Lviv in western Ukraine is auctioning a non-fungible token (NFT) based on a mug shot of oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was recently recaptured by Ukrainian authorities.
The sinking of the Russian cruiser came shortly after Ukraine’s national postal service released 1 million “First Day” stamps, illustrated with an interpretation of a Feb. 24 incident on Snake Island in which Ukrainian border guards reportedly told off the encroaching Moskva with colorful language as Russia launched its invasion.
As news emerged of the sinking of the Moskva — for which Ukrainian officials claimed responsibility — the stamp quickly became a hot commodity. Sellers on eBay are asking for as much as $2,500 for the stamp, and the value probably will rise, as there are no plans for new releases, said Igor Smelyansky, director of Ukraine’s postal service.
“I want to thank once again all the tens of thousands of people who came to us in Kyiv and other cities to buy our ‘ship’ stamp,” Smelyansky wrote Wednesday on Facebook. “Not without mistakes, but we did our best to ensure that most people got it.”
The postal operator may soon sell other memorabilia, such as T-shirts, featuring the illustration, he added.
Ukrainians formed long lines outside a Kyiv post office on April 14 to buy stamps of a Ukrainian border guard displaying his middle finger to a Russian warship. (Video: Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)
Even Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has taken to social media to promote the commemorative stamp and an envelope that bore the same image. He mocked the damaged vessel, telling people using the stamps to remember that the Moskva “always travels only in one direction” — downward.
Who is Viktor Medvedchuk, the pro-Russia mogul arrested in Ukraine?
Images of the disheveled and handcuffed mogul Medvedchuk have also circulated widely since his recapture. Medvedchuk, who has been charged with treason, escaped house arrest shortly after the invasion, according to the Ukrainian government.
Artists from the M81 Studio retooled a post-capture photo of Medvedchuk into what they called “Warhol-style” pop art. Proceeds from the sale of the “Kremlin agent Medvedchuk for sale” NFT — the top bid was $1,548 as of early Thursday — will be used to support Ukraine’s defense efforts, the studio said.
“We are used to Medvedchuk being corrupt, but finally, he is being sold to benefit Ukraine, and not for his own enrichment,” it added.
Bertrand Malmendier, a member of Medvedchuk’s legal team, said in an email to The Washington Post that the oligarch faces political persecution in Ukraine and is being used as “a scapegoat for the war.” The lawyer added that his team is concerned for Medvedchuk’s well-being and has written to Ukrainian authorities to demand access.
Peter Bejger and Irynka Hromotska contributed to this report
Source by www.washingtonpost.com