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On the cover
7 (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 EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys 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.


My Kyiv

The GM Who Opened a Hotel In Five months!

Since Stephen Ansell, the first GM of an international hotel chain, first turned up in Kyiv over seven years ago, this very special breed of person has become something of a target for humourours sympathy as weve all stood by and watched opening dates put back and put back again. That was until charismatic Catalonian Ferran Brufau turned up. He arrived in June and, much to the jealousy of other hotel GMs around town, his 4-star Radisson Blu on Podil opens this month, as he promised it would only five months ago. Whats On caught up with him to find out how he managed it.

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up in Kyiv.
Im from Barcelona originally, but my career in hospitality began in 1999 in Galway, Ireland, where I took a job in an independent hotel there. After a year I moved to a Radisson Blu hotel close by, where I worked my way through the ranks to assistant GM in 2006. A year later, I got my first position as GM in the Park Inn by Radisson Blu St Helens, Liverpool where I stayed for a year-and-a-half, and then I moved to Madrid to open the first Radisson Blu in Spain. I came to Kyiv because my old mentor was the vice-president of this region. He called me up and told me he had a couple of interesting projects in his region so I came to Kyiv to have a look, liked it, and moved here to open the Radisson Blu Podil in June.

You first arrived in June. What state was the hotel in then, and how did you manage to get it ready for opening in such a short space of time?
When I first saw the place it looked like a bomb had hit it. I couldnt believe wed be ready in time. But the construction company has done a magnificent job working day and night. Opening this month, were ninety-nine percent ready, so Im very happy. Rezidor, the company that owns the Radisson Blu brand, is a very flexible company. We work with the building owners to get the project ready, and help them as much as we can. The building owners have also been very focused on the project, setting strict deadlines and making sure theyre met. Total construction time for the hotel has been 16 months, which I think is excellent and reflects the cooperation between all parties involved. 

One downside of everything happening so quickly is that youve not the same amount of time to recruit and train staff. How have you managed that process?
We had two months to hire over a hundred people, and that was challenging. But the fact we have a sister hotel in the city thats been operating here for many years helped a lot, especially when it came to a couple of key positions initially. Also, we have another three hotels in Ukraine Radisson Blu in Bukovel and Alushta, Park Inn by Radisson Blu Donetsk   so weve pulled people from there as well. It was a tough task, but weve managed, and Im very happy with the people we have. Its the aim of our company to develop local talent. Apart from myself we have only one other international contract. All our other employees are local, and we hope one day that all our hotels in Ukraine will be managed and run by Ukrainians. 

Youre opening this month, but going by past experience no ones going to believe that. How is that affecting bookings and business?
Well, as you say, most people just did not believe wed be opening on time. Over the last week weve had a lot of people down to look, and now they believe. But yes, its been very difficult to create business before now because peoples experience tells them opening will be delayed. Now that were opening were sure bookings will pick up. Were the only international four-star hotel in Podil, and were hitting the market with competitive pricing, so were very confident. Were also pricing our F&B outlets for the local market. Were not just looking for the high earner and spenders, but instead we want our hotel to be part of the local scene. 

How do you find life in Kyiv, what do you like to do, and where do you like to do it?
My favourite pastime is walking around Podil. I love to stroll up Andriivsky or along the riverside. I also love going to the local markets. My family was here for a month in August, and what I realised about Kyiv is that its a very child-friendly city. There are a lot of parks, and many activities for children. My kids were here for a month and didnt have one boring day, and for two small kids like mine, thats big! My family will move here next year, and so thats very important. Im looking forward to family life here in Kyiv with my wife and kids. Kyiv is a magnificent place. It has everything youd expect of any European city.

Neil Campbell

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt 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 dont 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 childrens 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. Whats 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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