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By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

November 16, 2023 | 4 min read

United24, Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s fundraising platform, taps Lego artists to rebuild Ukraine’s historic landmarks brick by brick amid the nation’s ongoing war with Russia.

As the Russo-Ukraine war rages on, a new fundraising initiative wields the creative power of Lego to foster global interest in Ukrainian heritage.

Today, United24, a platform launched by Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to collect donations during the Russo-Ukrainian War, has launched ‘#LegoWithUkraine,’ a campaign that displays Lego versions of Kyiv’s Mother Ukraine statue, Crimea’s Swallow’s Nest castle and Mariupol’s Old Water Tower.

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The models are the work of three talented Lego artists – Ukrain’s Maksym Mityakin, Poland’s Artur Samkov and America’s Yevgen Tonyev; however, the Lego company does not sponsor nor promote the campaign.

#LegoWithUkraine currently offers five copies of each model. They are not for sale but instead will be raffled off among those who donate $24 or more. All funds raised will be directed towards the Rebuild Ukraine program.

The effort aims to educate consumers about Ukrainian culture and get them to raise money for the country’s war-related damages. Hundreds of the nation’s churches, museums, libraries and monuments have been bombed, burned or shelled since Russia’s invasion began in February 2022, amounting to $411bn worth of damages. It would take over a decade to rebuild the nation, according to a collaborative report from March by the Ukrainian government, the World Bank Group, the European Commission, and the United Nations.

Mityakin, a Lego artist and co-founder of the Lego-recognized community UkrBricks, commented: “At first, creating Lego sets was my hobby. Now, I have my own design studio. Lego is about creating, bringing your fantasy into the real world. I once built a model of Kyiv Independence Square with over 55,000 bricks. Lego is also about communities and bringing people together. Together with people who were temporarily relocated from the eastern regions of Ukraine, we recreated a large-size Mariupol coat of arms. We enjoyed working together. We used almost 115,000 bricks to build it. I am excited to join the United24 initiative and to build the Mother Ukraine statue. I believe the Mother Ukraine statue is one of Kyiv’s most prominent landmarks. I’m sure many Ukrainians and foreigners will instantly recognize it. Thank you to all the donors for their help in rebuilding my country.”

United24’s officials say they invite Lego creators around the world to continue to recreate famous Ukrainian landmarks for a chance to be included in the next batch in the spring of 2024.

“Millions of people from across the world help Ukraine every day: donate funds, support refugees [and] fight Russian propaganda on social media. The vast majority of them have never been to Ukraine,” commented United24’s platform coordinator, Yaroslava Gres. “The #LegoWithUkraine project provides an opportunity to learn more about our country and its diversity, even if from a distance. We thank the community of Lego creators who supported this idea and call on talented people from all over the world to create Lego versions of Ukrainian landmarks.”

Since its inception in May of 2022, 110 countries have committed to helping Ukraine through United24.

The platform also has many famous ambassadors, including singer Barbra Streisand, actor Mark Hamill, musical group Imagine Dragons, Balenciaga art director Demna, film director Michel Hazanavicius, astronaut Scott Kelly, British adventurer Bear Grylls, historian Timothy Snyder, country singer Brad Paisley, philosopher-economist Francis Fukuyama, Nobel laureates Paul Nurse, Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser, famous Ukrainian athletes Andriy Shevchenko and Elina Svitolina, among others.

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