By Tobias Wals

As of last month, painting trees white is currently officially a crime in Kyiv. Early April, Andrii Fishchuk, manager of the city’s communal solutions department, notified his other citizens around the half on his on facebook wall. “If you view someone trying to besmirch decorative tree or various other street elements, after ~ the Soviet habit, then call the authorities with the request to conveniently stop this violation. In specifically poignant cases, speak to 1551.”


“Each year, i wonder why Ukrainians choose up their brushes and begin paint the tree white.”

A bit of paper definition is proper here. Every year in spring numerous trees everywhere the former Soviet Union are painted white v a mixture that water, glue and lime (the mineral, no the fruit). Just the bottom meter or so is painted, offering the tree a typical ‘white skirt look’. This substantial paint task usually takes place at the finish of march or the start of April, right prior to Easter. Most of the work-related is done by ar workers, but often ordinary citizens chip in ~ above so-called ‘subbotniks’ or (semi-) spontaneous community organization days. The white skirts overcome parks, yards and also boulevards from Lviv to Vladivostok, and also from Murmansk to Tashkent.

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Each year, ns wonder why Ukrainians pick up their brushes and begin painting the trees white. For this reason this year, ns went top top a search for answers. The difficulty is the no one seems to be quite sure. Two points everybody agrees on is that:

the Soviets started itthat it is just claimed to it is in this way.

Period. Apart from that, there is a wide variety of speculations. Some say:

- it’s for traffic safety; painted trees would certainly be much better visible for auto drivers (but why then space the trees ideal in the center of parks also painted?);- that protects the trees from frosting (but why then space the tree painted in spring?);- it protects the tree from sunburn (but because when execute trees need sunscreen?);- finally, it’s an alleged to repel or death bugs (but why then is just the bottom meter or for this reason painted and not the entire tree?).

What have the right to be said for details is that trees in the West are not painted white and also they seem to be doing fine, which provides you wonder: are numerous trees painted each year for certain no reason at every – just since it’s tradition?


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The prize is... Yes. Follow to most gardening websites, ‘whitewashing’ or ‘lime washing’ is only advantageous for fruit trees. The lime protects vulnerable trees from fast temperature fluctuations and also is most effective when used in autumn, prior to the frost kicks in. In hot climates that may additionally protect leafless tree from the scorching spring sun. Because that this reason, trees space painted white in components of Greece, Mexico and the USA.

In most countries of the previous Soviet Union, however, the repaint job serves small to no good, specifically when used to non-fruit-bearing trees. The utter senselessness of the companies is underlined through the fact that meaningless street elements (such together streetlights) are regularly painted as well…


“Soviet citizens soon got used to the habit and also started to appreciate the clean white look of their tree trunks.”

The Soviets come up through the tradition about WWII, originally as a method to technique soldiers. ~ the war, it ended up being an annual springtime event on the subbotnik calendar, similar to snow shoveling in winter and leaf cleaning in autumn. At the time, asking inquiries or looking for logic would have actually been ill-advised. So, Soviet citizens soon obtained used to the habit and started to appreciate the clean white look of their tree trunks. Whitewashing ended up being a massive neo-pagan routine to note the finish of winter.

Since the please of the Soviet Union, four previous republics have actually put an end to the tradition:


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Estonia, Latvia, Georgia and also Azerbaijan. I’m not sure around Turkmenistan, due to the fact that they don’t have actually Google Street check out there. In Ukraine that is still typical practice. Yet that might readjust soon, if other cities decide to follow Kyiv’s ban.

It"s striking exactly how the city the Kyiv is framing its decision. According to director of communal solutions Andrii Fishchuk, painting trees white is not just a rubbish of time and also money, but likewise an attack on the herbal beauty of trees – that is an abject remnant of the Soviet era:

"The springtime whitewashing just served to decorate the basic grey- and dreariness of the Soviet system."

In post-Maidan Ukraine, this is a highly political statement. Over the last couple of years the Ukrainian government has embraced a selection of legislations to cleanse the country of that Soviet past. Almost everywhere Ukraine Lenin statues have actually been taken down and also communist propaganda has actually been claimed illegal. Many consider this ‘decommunization’ come be essential for Ukraine’s shift into a modern European nation. The municipality that Kyiv appears to be saying that the ban on paint trees white is a essential step in the direction of this glowing future.


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But the decision has actually triggered resistance. ~ the announcement, Fishchuk’s Facebook wall was flooded with an adverse comments. Kyiv’s inhabitants fervently defended the tradition, mentioning its undisputed services and, in numerous cases, praising that is aesthetics. That cares if that an old Soviet habit, they say. The white-skirted trees make the city watch “merry” and “cosy”.

A short stroll approximately the block reflects Fishchuk’s decision is being ignored top top a vast scale. In my street alone, about one the end of 3 trees is sporting a crispy fresh white skirt. In other neighbourhoods, practically all trees have been painted white this spring, just like they have actually been because that decades. Half or no ban, Kyiv’s occupants are acquisition to the highways with buckets that water, lime and also glue – wilfully breaking the law and also risking penalties.

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In a very much non-Soviet act of civil disobedience, they are holding top top to your beloved Soviet tradition.


TOBIASIS A TRANSLATOR (UKRAINIAN and also RUSSIAN)WHO resides IN KIEV. HIS MISSION IN LIFE IS TO open UP UKRAINIAN literary works TO dutch READERS


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We think the nature as full of color, brimming v life. We think the lush, green, hills, grass, trees, and perhaps the sometimes white hill top. Swedish photographer Hans Strandshows united state that nature can be simply as beautiful in black and white or duotone. He catches the nordic nations of Iceland, Denmark and also his indigenous Sweden in an incredible way.= start scrolling =