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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.


Cover Story

The Mejlis is the Crimean Tatars’ democratically elected representative body, and carries on what is a long tradition of democratic representation and non-violent protest within the Crimean Tatar community that stretches back further even than the era of Soviet exile and traces its roots to the late eighteenth century annexation of Crimea by the Russian Empire. The Tatar commitment to political dialogue championed by the Mejlis is a direct result of experiences while in exile in Soviet Asia, where from 1956 onwards one of the largest and best organised protest movements in the USSR grew up around the Crimean Tatars’ claims to return to their ancestral homeland, with both the Soviet government and international organisations bombarded with petitions and pleas arguing the case of the deportees. Notable achievements included the first Soviet-era mass protest on Red Square in 1987, and as a result by the time the Soviet UNI0N collapsed in 1991 the first wave of Tatar returnees had already reestablished themselves in Crimea. In those early years of struggle the Tatar community formed the Mejlis, of Crimean Tatar parliament as a body to represent Tatar interests to the Ukrainian state. This influential body is elected from within the Crimean Tatar community but while acknowledged by the Ukrainian state as an advisory body has struggled to win acceptance as legitimate from the Russophile Crimean authorities, who persist in claiming that it is an illegal body, or state within a state. The Mejlis continues to exert enormous authority among the Crimean Tatar population, not least due to the respect in which Mejlis head and iconic spiritual leader Mustafa Dzhemilev is held, and continues to push for a policy of relative moderation. Concerns remain that the Mejlis represents the first step along the road to Tatar autonomy, and its status as an ethnic body boasting of democratic principles is something of a paradox in 21st century Europe, but Dzhemilev himself maintains the somewhat obscure party line that there is no ethnic bar to membership, with anyone welcome as long as they have a command of the Crimean Tatar language.

Ukraine’s summer slumber was shattered last weekend by scenes of violence on the Black Sea coast as fighting broke out in Sudak between Crimean Tatars and Interior Ministry special forces when conflicts over disputed land boiled over into physical clashes. This latest flash point came as tensions grew in the paradise peninsula amid expanding Tatar land seizure enclaves, claims of Russian provocations, political inaction and rumours of the growing threat posed by radical Islam. Tatar officials downplay the threat of Jihadi terror tactics as yet more Russian propaganda, but if the grievances of the Tatar minority are allowed to fester without producing tangible results in the form of a political dialogue then there is every danger that more radical approaches will gain ground among what is a deeply divided population already in danger of becoming polarised into two hostile camps. Can Ukraine’s political class respond to the threat in time and prevent an escalation in this rumbling Crimean conflict?

Blonde bombshells Violetta and Diana of the subtly named pop group ‘69’ are the most brazen double act on a Ukrainian music scene that is literally littered with scantily clad young ladies. They have hit the headlines for everything from their sexually suggestive videos to rumours of intimacy with President Yushchenko’s wayward son Andriy, the infamous Prince of Orange. What’s On’s Nataliya Marianchyk caught up with the twosome for a girlie chat.

To mark the 1525th anniverary of the foundation of ancient Kyiv, one local design house demonstrated the increased confidence of today’s emerging generation of Ukrainian designers by producing an iconic collection incorporating motifs from the uniquely Ukrainian historical experience. Together with music channel M1, Arena Entertainment hosted an unprecedented show from KYIV MOA KYIV where founder Marina Asaulyk presented three haute couture collections to a V.I.P. audience which included celebrities such as Masha Fokina, Arktika, Bondarchyk, Dazzle Dreams, Dmytro Klimashenko, Gaytana and Yuriy Nikitin. Every outfit was closely linked to Kyiv’s singular nature and culture. There was the blue and white of Dynamo Kyiv, a representation of the city’s famous and very tasty Kyiv cake, an Amazonian-like warrior dressed in the style of the Great Kyiv Rus era, a host of well-known statues and landmarks, and Kyiv’s legendary symbol from nature – the chestnut tree, all designed into breathtaking dresses, sexy swimwear and one-off wearable art. For more information visit http://www.moafashion.net/.

Yulia Baltak

This week sees a major protest in downtown Kyiv designed to attract attention to the growing problem of xenophobic violence in Ukraine. Aggressive nationalism is thought to be on the increase in Ukraine, where the economic hardships of the Post-Soviet years have fed resentment among many young Ukrainians who see a future without prospects amid a growing foreign presence in the country. The relaxation of Soviet-era border controls over the past fifteen years has facilitated the creation of a large international community in Ukraine for the first time, providing nationalist extremists with a scapegoat for their frustrations. The end result has been an increasing number of racially motived attacks and killings in the Ukrainian capital over the past eighteen months which has provoked alarm among human rights groups and led to calls for the authorities to introduce legislation directly targeting xenophobia. Despite widespread popular opposition to the violence this week’s protest will be the first public demonstration against the extremist fringe and organisers hope that it will help draw public attention to a problem that is threatening to undermine the country’s positive image internationally and scare off potential investors.

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The UkrPop conveyor belt is literally littered with gorgeous young ladies trying to pout and pose their way to national celebrity status, but even among the vast array of bikini-clad talent Kyivlanka Maya Miygal stands out from the crowd. What’s On caught up with the homegrown star to talk about girlie rivalry, Ukraine’s fabled ‘Fame Academy’ and just why she loves Truhaniv Island so much!

Summer is well and truly here and as tradition would have it, the arrival of warm balmy days marks the beginning of the wedding season here in Ukraine. From now until September you will see scores of lucky couples accompanied by a flotilla of shining white limousines surrounding every Kyiv landmark as the bride and groom use them as backdrops for their wedding photos. Ukrainian wedding traditions are rich, steeped in history and often very different from those in the West. So here at What’s On we decided this would be an ideal time to fill you in on the dos and donts of getting married here.

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Kyiv is one of the greenest capital cities in the world, with huge tracks of greenbelt land stretching across the city scape, and the month of May is traditionally the time for the city to go green. While many choose to amble the month away outside of town or abroad, there is no lack of nature in the city itself, with tens of parks offering strolling stretches. However, the jewel in the green Kyiv crown remains the National Botanical Gardens, and May is the best month to visit this colourful creation.

Rarely in the fifty-three year history of the Eurovision Song Contest has an entry aroused such passions as Ukraine’s 2007 song ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’ by comedy drag act Verka Serduchka. Since winning the country’s nomination in March the song has been targeted by both Ukrainian and Russian nationalists, accused of being a neo-Nazi anthem, and featured in scandal sheets and quality media across the continent! Andriy Danilko, the talent behind the Verka personage, remains slightly bemused by all the attention but is determined to bring his own brand of raucous humour to Eurovision 2007 and inject a touch of fun into the much hyped song contest. Chatting to What’s On exclusively prior to his departure, Danilka admitted that he’d love to win the contest, but said that more than anything else he hopes to demonstrate that Ukraine is a country of humour and good grace, not just a land of dirty politics, empty slogans and paid protesters! 

TV host and socialite
I have to admit that I always check to see if my picture is in What’s On. You show great taste when choosing what should go in and what events to cover. My American friends love What’s On cause it lets them know what is going on in Kyiv, both culturally and politically.

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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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