Donetsk Airport Revisited

Donetsk Airport, February 2005
[Updated 29-May-2014]

Heavy shooting and a bomb blast rocked the international airport in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk this morning after it was seized by heavily-armed pro-Russian separatist rebels. Gunmen from the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ arrived at the airport shortly after Petro Poroshenko claimed victory in a presidential election that separatists have dismissed.

Today’s reports of smoke and blasts seem a world away from the quiet scenes I snapped at the airport during a brief visit in February 2005.

[NOTE: CNN has reported on 29 May that a separatist spokesman has confirmed that 33 Russian citizens were among those killed when Ukrainian forces waged a counter-offensive to retake the airport, undermining the claim that the uprising is largely homegrown.]

That was just a couple months after newly-elected President Victor Yushchenko made international headlines when his face began peeling off after he ate soup spiked with TCDD, the most potent dioxin in Agent Orange. Like that failed assassination attempt, the facility seemed to still be very much a remnant of the Soviet era, from drop-off to check-in to the chilly stroll across the tarmac to the plane.

The airport underwent a massive renovation and expansion ahead of the 2012 European Football Championships when a new seven-story high terminal was opened so I have no idea if any of the Soviet-era decor and architectural elements still exists. I do hope they kept and found room for the sculpture honoring someone who I assume was a local aviation pioneer. (And insights into who the person was are most welcome.)

I can report however, thanks to a local visitor on my flickr site, that the restrooms haven’t looked as they do in the photos below for quite some time. Which delights me all the more that they can be included among today’s Pics du Jour, the 134th straight.

Departure area, Donetsk Airport, February 2005
Donetsk Airport, February 2005
Donetsk Airport terminal, February 2005
Donetsk Airport terminal, February 2005
Donetsk Airport public restroom, February 2005
Donetsk Airport public restroom, February 2005
Donetsk Airport public men's restroom, February 2005
Donetsk Airport public men’s restroom, February 2005

 

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  1. Larry Eder says

    Bob, thanks for the Donetsk airport piece. I read on BBC this morning about the battle at the airport, less than one day after the election.

  2. Beth says

    Certainly looks like it’s stuck in a bygone era. Glad to hear the restrooms have supposedly been updated at least!

    1. Bob R says

      A friend reported yesterday via Facebook that as far as he recalls from a visit about a year ago that these sculptures are gone now as well. Too bad.

      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152450003147246&set=a.131450262245.128960.617677245&type=1

  3. Gabor Kovacs says

    I remember this Soviet style decoration from many places in my country, now that I think, they removed all of them. It’s a shame, as some of them were pretty cool!

  4. Calli says

    Very interesting post Bob, especially with the link to the current events in Ukraine right now. I always love the opportunity to look back in time but somehow these pictures feel much older than 2005. And those bathrooms are just scary. Glad to hear they’ve made some updates.

  5. Amber says

    Very interesting post! These pictures are terrific, I find Soviet-era art and sculpture fascinating in its own way. Those bathrooms, though! Reminds me of Southeast Asia 🙂

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