One of the most underreported human catastrophes of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is the ongoing cultural and existential erasure of the country’s Nadazov Greek population, which, prior to the war, constituted the third-largest ethnic group (after Ukrainians and Russians) in the bitterly contested Donetsk region. Most of these Greeks were concentrated in and around the city of Mariupol, which they founded after Catherine the Great had resettled them from their ancient homeland of Crimea in 1778. This imperial precedent—and the cultural prejudice used to justify its expedience—would persist. The Soviet policy of mass persecution of Greeks, which included deportations, executions, and bans on their language and culture, started with the NKVD’s so-called “Greek Operation” under Stalin in 1937 and continued for many years thereafter. For today’s Nadazov Greeks, who come from a region of Ukraine that has been militarized since 2014 and much of which was effectively destroyed in some of the heaviest fighting of 2022, Russia’s war and occupation now pose a question of both cultural preservation and immediate survival.
Tetiana (Tatiana) Liubchenko is an associate professor of Greek Linguistics at Kyiv National Linguistic University (Ukraine). She obtained her undergraduate degree in Philology (English language and literature, Modern Greek) from Mariupol State University in 2000 and received her PhD in Greek Philology from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in 2009. She has published over 50 articles in various subfields of linguistics. Tetiana was head of the Modern Greek and Translation Studies section at Kyiv National Linguistic University. She also served as an expert at the Hennadi Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine; an expert at the Institute of Education Content Modernization through the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, which supervised the publication of school textbooks under state order; and she was head of the All-Ukrainian School Olympiad in Greek Language and Literature. As a representative of the Greek population of Ukraine, she has been participating in the organization of numerous international events at the diplomatic level for more than 25 years. With the outbreak of full-scale war in Ukraine, she moved to Greece, where she works as a translator and interpreter and serves as a representative of the Union of the Greeks of Ukraine in Greece, a non-profit organization. Her most recent projects include translating and participating in a 2023 documentary about the Ukrainians and Greeks of Ukraine who now live in Greece as a result of the war (part of the “Thessaloniki The Human Histories” TV series). She is also working on launching a website dedicated to the preservation of the legacy of Ukraine’s Nadazov Greeks.