A pop-up exhibition about the resilience and resistance of Ukrainians living under occupation opened on Luxembourg Square in Brussels. It was organised by the Yellow Ribbon civil resistance movement. The exhibition tells the story of an underground resistance movement operating under conditions of Russian terror which brutally suppresses any pro-Ukrainian sentiments.

The opening of the exhibition was attended by Head of the Mission of Ukraine to the European Union Vsevolod Chentsov, President of the European Economic and Social Committee Christa Schweng, Member of the European Parliament Petras Auštrevičius, Member of the Belgian Parliament Georges Dallemagne, founder and head of Promote Ukraine Marta Barandiy and others.

Visitors can find out about the anonymous stories of the Yellow Ribbon activists, told for the first time, and also see real artifacts from the temporarily occupied territories: a fence with bullet holes from liberated Kherson with the inscription “Kherson is Ukraine” and a copy of a poster drawn by an activist of the movement on the cover of children’s album. In addition, exhibition visitors can see videos and photos taken in the temporarily occupied territories which demonstrate the work and results of the resistance movement.

Opening of the exhibition 'State Of Defiance'

Over 100,000 sq km of the territory of Ukraine is now occupied by the Russians. 1,877 settlements are still under occupation. Unfortunately, such numbers often remain something abstract for foreigners. The stories of specific people from the Yellow Ribbon movement who stay in the temporarily occupied territories can change this. Art is a powerful tool that helps convey information to Europeans about the horrors happening in Ukraine due to the Russian invasion. Thousands of brave people are fighting against a huge ideological bubble in which Russian propaganda invests millions. A yellow ribbon is a symbol of the defiance of Ukrainians,” says Head of the Mission of Ukraine to the European Union Vsevolod Chentsov.

Ukrainian territories have been occupied but have not been conquered by the occupiers. It is a great honour to celebrate those Ukrainians who in practice are the best example of civil society because they resist, fight and promote the idea of a free and democratic Ukraine. Just imagine a yellow ribbon. What meaning can it have? But for the occupiers, it is a symbol of a strong, resilient Ukrainian state, nation, and soul. And one innocent drawing of a yellow ribbon instills fear, uncertainty and disappointment in the Russian occupiers,” says MEP Petras Auštrevičius.

Opening of the exhibition 'State Of Defiance'

More than a year ago, the Ukrainians in Kherson watched Russian patrols, memorised the route of their movement, counted how many there were. In three weeks, the first rally was held in Kherson, at which 500 people gathered. It was brutally dispersed by the Russian Guard officers, and it started the activities of the Yellow Ribbon resistance movement. Could we have imagined that seven months later Kherson would be liberated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and a year later an exhibition would be held in Brussels dedicated to the resistance of Ukrainians in the occupied territories, the center of which would be the Yellow Ribbon? It is an honour for us to speak with you here, in the centre of free Europe, on behalf of brave people who put justice above their own safety,” says Valeria, spokesperson for the Yellow Ribbon movement.

Exhibition State of Defiance 

Date:  12 – 13 April 

Location: Place du Luxembourg, Station Europe, Brussels

The exhibition is held with informational support of Promote Ukraine

Yellow Ribbon social media accounts:

Official website




Telegram: @yellowribbon_ua

Yellow Ribbon is a civil resistance movement that formed after 24 February 2022 in Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kherson regions and other territories under temporary Russian occupation. So far, more than 8,000 activists have joined the movement, putting up informational resistance to the occupation regime.

Opening of the exhibition 'State Of Defiance'
Opening of the exhibition 'State Of Defiance'
Photo: Maryna Kutsenko and Valentina Rostovikova
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