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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.


Ukraine Abroad

Dakar Driving

It takes 460 competitors, 8,000 kilometres across three countries in a whirlwind 15 days of non-stop endurance racing in what is known as the most testing rally in the world, the Dakar. The 2013 edition once again had its home in South America and the Ukrainian flag was waving in the deserts as Vadym Nesterchuk and his team waged war with sand, heat, time and other competitors off-road in Dakar 2013. Whats On meets up with the Ukrainian motorist who talks about the rally, the motorsport business and women drivers at Dakar.

There is a saying: if you finish at Dakar, youre already a winner and for Nesterchuk and his team, that finish came in a respectable 26th place in the fifth South American edition of the rally in January. Watching TV reports about Dakar, I get the impression its a nightmare heat, dust, sand and danger! Nesterchuk has a different take. For me Dakar is a perfect combination of man and machine, the complexity of peoples reactions in an extreme situation, on top of that of course its a great adventure, says the pilot. 

False Starts
Dakar is an event that allows amateurs to compete and it was as amateurs Nesterchuk and his team first applied to take part back in 2008. Recalling those times, Vadym says it could have been an incredible adventure, but the rally was cancelled that year.
Nesterchuks nightmare on Dakar continued in 2009 when he decided to compete on a quad. But when he showed up at scrutineering in Buenos Aires, he was told he couldnt start because he didnt have the necessary licence to compete. He returned to the race a year later this time in a car. Unfortunately, his rally ended due to engine problems in stage eight. But his persistence paid off and behind the steering wheel of a L200 Mitsubishi, Nesterchuk managed to finish last year in style, becoming the first Ukrainian to do so, capturing 35th position. 
With new French co-driver Laurent Lichtleuchter who finished 12th of the last Dakar, the goal in this years rally was to better that performance, although disaster always keeps things interesting. This last Dakar we drove very professionally, says Nesterchuk. Fans started complaining, saying they were bored our car didnt break down and didnt flip once. I usually answer that professional sport is kind of boring. However, he concedes a smooth performance is hardly compelling viewing. The most amazing shots on TV we see are those when either a pilot or a navigator make a mistake!

Oil in His Veins
Dakar has become a passion and serious professional sport for Nesterchuk. When I suggest he must have been keen on cars since childhood, he contradicts me. My parents were saving money for many years to buy a Zhyguli (Soviet car), but could never do it! Instead, his petrol-head tendencies would only emerge later. The first rally in my life was in 1990 when I was a student and went to buy a car in Kazakhstan. Those were my first 5,000 kilometres of off-roading. Back then, I could not imagine I would be passing the same route in 2009 while driving in the Silk Way rally. Despite his late start in the sport, motoring and Nestarchuk still have led parallel lives.
It was before his rally ambitions that Nesterchuk ran out of petrol in the middle of nowhere in Germany and he had to call on a roadside-assistance service: In 15 minutes, the assistance came to me and refuelled my car. I thought it was an excellent service which we did not have in Ukraine at that time, says the motorist. A business idea was born and in addition to the car-service and car-rental business he already had, Nesterchuk introduced a new one full technical roadside assistance. When it came to marketing the new venture, he went to extremes choosing Dakar as the best way to demonstrate how his engineers are able to assist those in need in the most extreme conditions like the rally. Kyiv roads, Vadym adds, are quite similar to Dakar, especially lately, so the rally promotes our roadside-assistance service well. 

Automotive Ambassador
Taking part in Dakar costs on average 400,000 Euro, but Nesterchuk does not regret the spending, and sees it as him doing his bit to lift the image of Ukraine internationally. For many people, Ukraine now is not only Chornobyl and corruption, but also the orange racing machine sponsored by Sixt rental cars in the Dakar Rally. Aiding him in his cultural exchange mission is, surprisingly, traditional salo. Nesterchuk always manages to source a quantity of the cured slabs of pork backfat to treat fans and fellow competitors in between stages of the rally. 
Not that there is a lot of downtime, the schedule of the rally is tough 15 stages and each stage takes place on consecutive days, leaving nights for technical service and repairs to the vehicles. The lack of sleep, difficult roads, heat and constant stress can have a battle-like impact on a persons psyche, and as pilot he is at the front-line. However, he finds solace in the feedback he gets from seeing so many people come to support the teams and the challenge of overcoming the inhumane conditions. Extreme conditions lead to extreme measures and many drivers adhere to various beliefs and superstitions to get them through the race, says Nesterchuk.

Superstition andSexism
As for luck, the Sixt Rental Car roadster says he has dabbled with all manner of superstitions and is now sure none of them have any basis. Ive tried the unlucky numbers of 13 or 6, checked the black cat crossing the road its all nonsense. What matters for me is to monitor my tempo of driving if Im driving and enjoying it, it shows in the result. 
Despite the success of German woman Jutta Kleinschmidt, who in 2001 became the first woman to win the endurance race after a podium finish the year before, Nesterchuk is blunt in his assessment of women drivers. In his view, they should only be supporters. I dont mean to discriminate women, but Dakar is for men only! Girls and women should think more of themselves and children its a male trait to compete, show their bravery, be strong and take risks. Generally, women are more careful drivers, and thats a good thing.
For future competition, Nesterchuk has clear goals: when it comes to the super-production class (the orange car produced specifically for races), Nesterchuk aims for a podium finish; as for the production class (a white Toyota slightly upgraded for rallies), he wants to be in the Top-10 finishers. The next competition the Sixt Ukraina team will be taking part in is the World Cup Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in April. And although Nesterchuk says the driving itself is more rewarding than trophies, we wish him success and hope to see Ukrainian vyshyvankas and the yellow and blue flag at the finish!

Little Known Facts 
Vadym Nesterchuk has participated in Dakar six times. This year proved his best performance yet, finishing in 26th place 
The T1 (super-production) 6-cylinder 520-litre SIXT rally care was made here in Ukraine from start to finish
The biggest Dakar winner of all time is Stephane Peterhanselwho has won the rally 11 times be it by motorbike or car

Kateryna Kyselyova

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Comments (1)
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Komron | 22.03.2013 13:34

Duncan,Leigh did not mention in the blog if he had acltlauy attended the match. But he and the consular team have a responsibility towards our countrymen out in Donetsk.I will stick to Kyiv.

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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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