This year's Annual Freilich Lecture on Bigotry and Tolerance was delivered by His Excellency, Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko. This year, we partnered with the ANU's Centre for European Studies. Each year, the Freilich Lecture invites speakers from different professions to present on the theme of bigotry, its history, causes, impacts and solutions. These lectures have sparked conversations across academia and the broader community.
We were very excited for the Ambassador to take time from his very busy schedule to speak with us on his experience of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the history and contemporary dynamic of ethnic conflict with Russia.
The Russian invasion of the Ukraine is a fundamental breach of international law and the UN Charter, and it threatens Ukraine's peace, freedom and democracy. Internationally, the invasion has divided some communities and contributed to broadening division and conflict. For more on the ANU's position on this conflict, read the ANU statement.
His Excellency Vasyl Myroshnychenko is the Ambassador for Ukraine in Australia and New Zealand. He has a long career in strategic communications, and is a co-founder of Ukraine Crisis Media Center, a media NGO set up in early March of 2014 aimed at amplifying Ukraine’s voice internationally. He has sat on numerous boards, was the recipient of the 2018 Marshall Memorial Fellowship, and has a distinguished career both in business and academia.
In reflecting on the invasion, the role of the media, and conflict fatigue, the Ambassador said:
There is so much out there you can read about on this war, and why this war's so different... this war is all on your iPhone. You can watch this war live from your laptop every morning, every day. It's live reporting. You can see torture live. You can see atrocities live. You can see explosions coming and drones flying into Kiev, exploding and killing people you actually know... This war will be memorised forever – on our harddrives, on our phones. Will we ever be able to forgive or forget what has happened? Probably not...
The way history is used for driving propaganda is huge... and all the hatred towards Ukrainians which has been created out there in the domain of Russian media has been phenomenal. This is something we have to deal with on a daily basis.
This event was also held in conjunction with the We Bleed the Same Exhibition, and included an unveiling of the photo of the Ambassador. This exhibition, from photographer Tim Bauer and filmmaker Liz Deep-Jones, uses impactful photography and documentary film to challenge stereotypes and present the stories of many diverse people who have experienced racism.