Down in the passageway under the Baseina Street in Kiev you can find everything from supermarkets, large electronic and accessory stores, mobile phone, shoe repairs, cloth, liqueur and chocolate shops, manicure stands, cafés and small stalls where people sell ties, tights, shoes, kitchen equipment and other indispensable everyday things. Here we met Baleteiena in her sales stall. She tells us that she is 72 years old and has sold socks and stockings the last seven years to supplement her pension. In her two square meters small stall the socks and stockings are stacked so effective in sizes, type and colours that not a single inch seems to have been left to chance. There is an enviable order in Baleteiena world down here under Beseina Street.

Her father was Russian officer in the Red Army and her mother was from an Ukraine peasant family who only barely survived the Holodomor also know as the Terror-Famine which from 1932 to 1933 killed 7-10 million Ukrainians when Ukraine was under Soviet dominion. There is different opinions about the cause of the famine and the numbers of deaths. Some believe that the famine was planned by Stalin to eliminate the Ukraine independence movement. Others that the man-made famine was a consequence of Soviet industrialisation under Stalinism.

When her father after the Second World War with the Soviets establishment of DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) in 1949 was transfer to Germany the family moved first to Berlin where Baleteiena was born and then to Düsseldorf. Here she lived until she was 3 years and therefore speak a little German. Due to the increasing tensions as a result of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the Western allies her fathers work for the Red Army in Düsseldorf ended abruptly. Her father used the opportunity to apply for a transfer to Ukraine and the family finally settled in Kiev where Baleteiena has lived since.

In Ukrainian Baleteiena means love and giving.


DRAWING: Sila Yalazan // @silayalazan
TEXT: Steen Andersen // @just_another_alter_ego