On February 24, the first anniversary of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian postal service released a new stamp featuring a Banksy mural and the shorthand “FCK PTN!” in Cyrillic. The mural, which the British street artist painted in the fall of 2022 on a bombed building northwest of Kyiv, portrays a young boy in Judo robes flipping an older man. Many speculate Banksy depicted Vladimir Putin getting body slammed, as the Russian President is reportedly a Judo practitioner.
In a press statement, the national post shared that the image is “allegorical,” representing the struggle between Ukraine and Russia. “Our small country, compared to Russia, courageously entered into an unequal battle with the enemy and, despite all the difficulties, is fighting for the Victory,” wrote Ukrposhta.
Banksy had completed seven murals in Borodyanka, including a painting of a gymnast performing a handstand in 2022. The town had been devastated by Russian forces early on in the war and was briefly occupied until Russian troops withdrew in April. The murals allude to and celebrate Ukrainians’ spirit and courage during the war.
Stamps have become popular symbols in Ukraine over the past year. Like wartime posters, they inspire patriotism and resilience in citizens. Last March, Ukrainian artist Boris Groh won the postal service’s design competition with a stamp that celebrates the soldiers who defended Snake Island and told a Russian warship, “Go fuck yourself.” The postage became a collector’s item within a month, and the postal service sold 700,000 stamps. One hundred thousand were sold internationally through online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. Sofia Kravchuk, an 11-year-old girl, created another image the postal service issued, which portrayed a little girl flying on bird wings next to the Mriya, a massive Ukranian plane that Russian missiles destroyed before the stamp could be released. Craftwork Handmade lists one of the Mriya stamps on eBay for $20.
Expecting similarly high enthusiasm for the stamps with Banksy’s mural, Ukrposhta set circulation of the postage at 1,500,000 copies with a limit of 10 sheets per online order. A sheet of stamps costs 180 Ukrainian hryvnia (~$4.90), and the agency says 42 UAH (~$1.14) will go toward ongoing humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, such as rebuilding schools.
The stamp’s release follows US President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Ukraine and speech in Poland, Ukrposhta CEO Igor Smelyansky remarked in a tweet. To Smelyansky, Banky’s mural, like Biden’s visit, sends a powerful message to Putin: “Go F…yourself!”