Kateryna Sergatskova is leaving her position as Zaborona’s editor-in-chief. From now on, the team is headed by Daniel Lekhovitser, who over the past year and a half not only launched and developed the technology and science, gaming, and author columns sections but also created an updated concept for the outlet. For readers, this means even more new formats and unique stories that you are unlikely to see in other media. However, today’s context dictates that the war has become the main newsmaker in Ukraine. It has seeped into all spheres of our lives, from politics and economics to culture and urbanism. In his introductory letter to the readers, Daniel Lekhovitser explains what awaits Zaborona in the future and what purpose drives every member of the team during a full-scale war.
There is a passage in the novel “What’s That to Do With Me?” by the Swiss journalist Sacha Batthyany that I often recall. If you put it in a few sentences, it goes something like this: did neutral Switzerland (or other countries like it) know History? History with a capital H, which left behind craters of disaster in its cast-iron gait? Batthyany draws an honest conclusion: “Streets, houses, neighborhoods could not tell their own story because almost nothing changed there, and if anything did, it was for the better.”
Ukraine is not a country that can claim to have a history deficit. It seems that a significant number of our towns and villages, if not the vast majority, are made up of layers of histories, large and small, that should make the places themselves howl. It is said that another definition of the word “society” lies in memory (and forgetting): society is what people agree to remember and what to forget. The role of the journalist here is extremely important: to prevent the event from being left without a witness, to be an archaeologist who will not allow the tragic memory, its multiple ramifications, to be covered with dust and earth.
Zaborona will continue to do what it does: collect wartime archives; remain an institution that aims to see, hear, and feel, and then retell and testify. We will continue to walk alongside the unheard, the offended, and the dead, and to be honest, this is a difficult, often lonely job. That is why I thank the members of the editorial board, first of all, for their realization that being a journalist in today’s Ukraine means being where it hurts. Near Bakhmut; in the flooded villages of Mykolaiv region, where clay huts melt like sugar in the water after the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station was blown up; in a village in northern Ukraine, where the occupiers kept 386 civilians in a school basement in the dark for almost a month; with the Red Cross team (which does not guarantee safety and absence of shelling); next to the animals of Kramatorsk; with the soldiers who had their limbs amputated. This is only a tiny part of what Zaborona has done during Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine.
Unfortunately, there are even more stories of despair ahead, but also of great beauty and strength, which we will try to tell. We will continue to work in the de-occupied territories, talk to victims of violence, write and make photo projects about collective and historical memory, defend the rights of the military, the LGBT community, neurodiverse people and people with disabilities, animals, and even the dead – all those social groups that need to be noticed.
There is another important purpose of Zaborona. And to explain it, I’ll allow myself a little more name-dropping. In one of my perhaps favorite TV shows, The New Pope, the newly elected Roman pontiff John Paul III, played by John Malkovich, asks himself what he sees his job as. In protecting fragility. In his understanding, fragility is not a flaw; it is not a burden. Fragility is a miracle. Fragility is something to be proud of.
And we, in turn, will continue to protect the fragility.