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On the cover
¹7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope

28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidan’s three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the country’s stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.


Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard – and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.


Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.


Whats Up?
Our poor Minister of Interior Vitaliy Zakharchenko is no doubt all fussed and bothered that no one is listening to his warnings (read: rants) about the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) and Spilna Sprava (Common Cause) and their plan of terrorist attack. “Right-wing radical groups plan to shatter the peace again and will not stop even before the terrorist act. This is evidenced by our ‘operational information’.”

In the dirty world of Ukrainian politics nothing should come as a surprise, especially as people see the writing on the wall and look for any way to save their own skin (oh, and access to the levers of power for further personal enrichment).
Such was the case last week, with Party of Regions member Serhiy Tihipko saying that he was ready to lead a block of some 30 “pro-democracy” fellow-members in the party in voting against the line being taken by Yanukovych and Medvedchuk in order to resolve the crisis.

Err, who better than a man who appears to have lost control of the country he presides over to personally coax you to Olympic glory?
Actually pretty much anyone, despite the gesture being akin to taking financial advice from a gambler, Viktor Yanukovych abandoned a country in crisis to attend the opening of the Olympic Games in Sochi, pose for some grip-and-grin publicity shots with the Ukrainian Olympians, offer them some sage words of wisdom, and allegedly (possibly...did he really?) meet his Russian counterpart.

Here at What’s On we guessed the government would use this current situation to devalue the hryvnia and then blame the protestors, and like we were looking into a crystal ball we were proved 100% accurate.
What we didn’t expect was for the Ukrainian hryvnia to devalue to 8.81 to the dollar, only to bounce back to 8.41, leading many to speculate that those in charge are using every means at their disposal to make money, now using the political instability and the fluctuating hryvnia to pad out their already super-padded bank accounts.

In an interview with Interfax Ukraine, former President Kuchma has voiced his support for a return to the 2004 constitution, calling into question the legality of the introduction by Ya­nu­kovych of the 1996 constitution. In fact, "the 2004 constitution was a mechanism of protection against centralisation and concentration of power turning into an autocracy and then into a dictatorship,” Kuchma said, before finishing: “It’s necessary to correct a serious legal error, or rather the non-legal way the constitution of 1996 was brought back.”

According to All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), 73% of Russians are watching the situation in Ukraine, with almost half (45%) believing that the protests have been provoked by Western “special services” and only 5% thinking protestors are driven by the desire for change. Looks like Putin’s media moguls are doing their job.

Anyone from anywhere can go to the White House website and start a petition, and on 10 and 11 February, one such petition was flooded with “support” from people concerned for the law enforcement officers of Ukraine who are, poor lambs, “dealing with mass riots in the country”.
Once any petition exceeds 100,000 signatures the White House is duty-bound to look at the matter, and no doubt with a little help from people in darkened rooms signing multiple times (the same as how they think any voting works really) this threshold was easily surpassed.

The EU has been working behind the scenes where Ukraine is concerned in recent months, and it looks like that’s how they will continue to work after Foreign Ministers of EU states gathered on 10 February. Throwing a sharp rebuke President Viktor Yanukovych’s way, the European UNI0N wants a new government and constitutional reform.

Peredayemo za proyizd!
Pay up!
This is a well-known phrase used by local drivers of route buses, also known as marshrutkas, asking passengers to pay the fare to ride. Basically, passengers hand over (in chain order) the cash, and wait (if necessary) for their change (in chain order). It can prove rather humorous at rush hour.

15 February 1952
The first volume of the complete set of works by well-known Ukrainian literary pioneer Ivan Kotlyarevsky is published by the then Shevchenko Ukrainian Language Institute. The second volume is issued a year later.

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Ukraine Truth
Rights We Didn’t Know We Had

Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Univer­sal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they don’t understand the meaning of these words.

Kyiv Culture

Pulling Strings
Located on Hrushevskoho Street – the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades – children’s favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. What’s On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.


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