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The Price of Patriotism

Ukraine

by Małgorzata Smieszek

Published March 2024

Anna lives high in the mountains. Her sons and relatives went to the front after the war started in February 2022. Following the completion of his mandatory military service, 21-year-old Ivan decided to stay in the army. He guards the Ukrainian border. 25-year-old Jurij returned home after 15 months of fighting in Bakhmut. He did not expect that it would be so hard on the front. While being extremely exhausted for months, he would repel enemy attacks and experience betrayal from residents of the eastern part of Ukraine while risking his own life. 47-year-old Volodymyr has been fighting in Donbas since the beginning of the war. His wife and daughter are deeply affected by his involvement. The daily life of stress and uncertainty has caused serious health problems for the women. Mykola, 38, died in Bachmut. He left behind two daughters who are convinced that they lost their father because they did not manage to give him a hand-made cross in time.


Małgorzata Smieszek


Małgorzata Smieszek (born 1973) is a photographer and documentarian, a graduate of the Warsaw School of Photography and photography workshops at the Pix.house Foundation in Poznań. She is the recipient of the Krzysztof Miller Award for the Courage of Looking (2021), and a finalist in competitions such as Grand Press Photo (2022) in the People category, and Slovak Press Photo (2023) for her photographic documentary "The Price of Patriotism". She was also recognized in the International Photography Awards (IPA) (2023) in the People category. She is the author of the series "Red Zone" (about loneliness in COVID wards) and "It Happens" (about the work of rescue teams). Currently, she is photographing in Ukraine.

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