On Friday, May 15, President Petro Poroshenko opened an exhibition 16 at Second Floor Art Center of the Presidential Administration. The exhibition is made of sixteen portraits of Ukrainian soldiers and veterans of the Anti-Terrorist Operation. The photographer Roman Nikolayev and military veterans attended the exhibition.

“The country must know and praise its heroes who are creating a new Ukraine. The sixteen heroes have glorified Ukraine by their self-sacrifice, courage, bravery and patriotism. Their feats will serve as example of the love of homeland and its protection to the young generation of Ukrainians,” emphasized the President.

President Poroshenko addressed the military veterans: “The whole Ukraine is thankful to have you. Your are the pride of the state. Thank you very much for your distinguished service.”

Petro Poroshenko told about the need to change Presidential Administration through such projects, highlighting that the building could be the best venue for the exhibition. Henceforth, the Ukrainains and members of foreign delegrations would see the crème de la crème of Ukraine.

The President also supported the idea to showcase portraits at the Boryspil International Airport: “Ukrainians and foreign guests would see how the state respects those who defend their homeland and demonstrate the best qualities of human courage and dignity.”

The portrait of Lieutenant Colonel Leonid Klymchuk, Commander of the 54th reconnaissance battalion of Ukrainian Armed Forces, was one of the sixteen exhibited. He commented: “These are not only portraits. They reflect victories, losses and pain. Our contemporaries and future generations should save the memory of it.”

16 exhibition includes portraits of Ukrainian heroes, from privates to colonels, who have heroically protected towns and villages in eastern Ukraine.  Its author, Roman Nikolayev, is a famous Ukrainian photographer who has volunteered to help Ukrainian troops. He travelled to the country’s East and captured the spirit of Ukrainian servicemen on camera.

Nikolayev explained his choice to take close-up pictures of soldiers because he wanted to capture the gaze of every Ukrainian hero, which reflected the painful experience of war that delved the entire generation of Ukrainians in turmoil.

The Head of the Presidential Administration Borys Lozhkin came up with an idea to organize exhibition. He stressed these portraits should be in a room of every Ukrainian public servant. “It is not about staff generals, but soldiers and officers who have first-hand experience of war. Thousands of heroes are risking their lives every day; many of them fall to give Ukraine one more chance. I hope that soon we will be able to exhibit portraits of peacetime heroes thanks to the courage of our troops.”

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