Early in the Ukraine crisis, the nation found solace in the bravery of its soldiers. In particular, an incident at Snake Island—a military outpost on the Black Sea—became a rallying cry. On the first day of the Russian invasion, recordings reveal that a group of Ukrainian soldiers told a Russian warship, “Go f*** yourself,” when asked to surrender. To commemorate this act of defiant bravery, Ukrposhta—the Ukrainian Postal Service—held a contest for a Snake Island stamp. Now, Ukrainians are lining up in droves to get their hands on this special stamp.
The winning design by Lviv-based artist Boris Groh was announced last month and now that the stamps are available, they are flying off the shelves. One million stamps and 20,000 envelopes were issued by the postal service, with no plans to print more. Since the stamps went on sale, images of long lines at the post office have been flying around the internet, with reports that people are waiting in line for up to six hours for the stamps. After sharing some of the images on its official Facebook, Ukrposhta quipped that it was probably the first time that lines for stamps were longer than for iPhones.
“I am sure that Ukrainians and our friends from abroad will be pleased to receive letters with such a postage stamp,” shared Igor Smelyansky, the general director of Ukrposhta, at an opening ceremony in Kyiv. “And today in this postal way we once again remind the invaders that they should immediately get off our land and follow their ship.”
Smelyansky also noted that 700,000 stamps are being sold in Ukraine, with 200,000 set aside for Russian-occupied territories. Another 100,000 will be sold online, including overseas, starting Thursday. The stamps, which are sold in denominations of $0.77 and $1.83, have also made their way to eBay where they are on offer for up to $3,000. The postal service has condemned eBay sales, reminding users that there is no way to know if the funds will be used for charitable purposes. Instead, they encourage participation in a special charity auction being held on Friday for a stamp signed by the soldier who uttered the now-famous phrase.
To give everyone a fair chance at obtaining a stamp, Ukrposhta limited sales to no more than six stamps per person. They also canceled all early online orders to tamp the flow of users trying to hoard and resell stamps. On Wednesday, they announced that all of the allocated stamps were sold out within Ukraine and that the remaining stamps would be on sale online. At the time of writing, the Ukrposhta website was down, likely due to a flood of requests.
Though Ukrposhta reiterated that no further stamps would be issued, they are looking at ways to continue the spirit of the design and promised more news about other branded efforts, such as t-shirts, next week.
Boris Groh won a contest by the Ukrainian Post Office to design a stamp commemorating Snake Island.