A flea market in Kyiv is where it all began. I stumbled across a collection of almost 100 posters and instead of buying just a few, I bought them all. In that moment, I knew I had to share them with the wider world. Over the past few years, I’ve built a purpose driven business selling original vintage posters from Ukraine and many of the other former Soviet Republics. Today, I’m righting a wrong by changing our name from Comrade Kiev to Comrade Kyiv.
What's in a name?
Kyiv or Kiev? Does it matter? Yes, because the two most common ways of spelling the name of Ukraine’s capital city are each loaded with political connotations.
Kyiv was founded by three brothers in the fifth century. It's named after the eldest sibling, Kyi. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became an independent state. Since then, it has worked to shed the linguistic relics of its Soviet and Russian past by promoting the use of Ukrainian language transliterations for local streets and towns - Kyiv instead of Kiev.
Kiev is the Russian way of pronouncing Ukraine’s capital city. For many in Ukraine, ‘Kiev’ is associated with the russification of Ukraine. While part of the Russian Empire, and later, the USSR, the use of the Ukrainian language in print was banned so as to strengthen Russian linguistic and political influence in the country. Today, Russia still continues to intimate Ukraine, and undermine its autonomy. In 2014, it annexed Crimea, and in recent months it has amassed a force of 175,000 Russian troops at Ukraine’s border in preparation for a potential invasion in early 2022.
Standing on the right side of history
Today, we’re changing our name to Comrade Kyiv to reflect our unwavering support for Ukraine. We stand on the right side of history, beside our comrades in Kyiv. But we go beyond lip-service. We've also put our money where our morals are. In 2021, we gave £1,439.80 to Human Rights Watch, an independent, non-profit NGO that exists to give voice to the oppressed and promote freedom and equality everywhere. If you would also like to support their work, you can make a tax deductible donation here or buy a vintage poster from Comrade Kyiv!