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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.


Cover Story

Fast and Furious

Ice hockey is as brutal as it is beautiful, making it a sport for spectators with an almost gladiatorial quality. It is known as the fastest game on earth, two teams of six, whirl across the ice in pursuit of a hard rubber disk known as a puck. Its full contact, and skate blades combined with sticks, the puck itself, and high-speed collisions, make it a sport that exacts a high injury toll on players. Whats On looks at the state of the sport in Ukraine.

When the USSR was at its peak, ice hockey teams drawn from the Soviet space dominated the world. Post-Soviet ice hockey went into steep decline in Eastern Europe, a monument to this being the still incomplete Ice Palace stadium on Hlushkova Avenue in Kyiv. Designed as a state-of-the-art stadium for both competition within the USSR and internationally, the Soviet UNI0Ns collapse intervened. It has languished and decayed ever since.
Now 20-odd years on, the sport is staging a comeback; Ukrainian hockey teams have improved in recent years, thanks to the financial backing of the nations oligarchs. The resurgence is such that former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced at the opening of the Ipodrom Metro Station in 2012 that the abandoned Ice Palace would be completed in-line with continued development of Holosiivsky District. So far that promise has yet to be delivered. But in tandem with the sports revival at the top level, amateurs are also in on the game. We speak to a Ukrainian and an expat about its allure.

Maks Potimkov
The opportunity to play amateur hockey emerged in Ukraine in 2004, Maks Potimkov says. People were playing hockey before, but in 2004 a league was formed, which we call the NHL (a nod to the North American National Hockey League) the Night Hockey League, because we usually play and train late in the evening as everybody has day-jobs.
Potimkov can be considered a veteran of the competition; he started playing in 2005 and has seen the sport expand to two leagues of about 30 teams. His team, Kryla Stolytsi (Wings of the Capital), plays in the amateur league. It may be amateur, but the time demands are tough. We train three times per week, starting at 22.30. We all had to change our daily routines and adjust. I usually get home at about 1am and often have trouble going straight to bed. In addition to training we usually have one game per week, he says. As well as time, there is a financial cost, Potimkov says. Membership costs us about 100 hryvnias each per season. Plus there are fees for every game, as we have to rent a rink. Even training costs about 150 to 200 hryvnias (for rent).

Seriously Social
Potimkov like most of his fellow players first took up the game in childhood. I call my team an addiction support group as we joke you cant be casually interested in hockey. Hockey is a disease, and the fact people play at midnight makes us look crazy. The time he and his teammates devote is proof of their dedication. We take it very seriously! We have a captain and coach. Some teams even hire professional coaches.
As for the full-contact nature of the sport, they have rules to keep injuries to a minimum. We have very strict rules toward rough play. Im 28 and Im the youngest in the team. The average age is 3540 and we do it for fun, which is why we have rules against playing rough. Every powerful contact in our league is punished with a two-minute time-out.

Player To Spectator
Potimkov admits to being a fan of two teams The Washington Capitals and the Russian National Team and it is the latter he is following on the ice at the Winter Olympics. Im planning to go to the Olympic semi-finals on 21 February in Sochi. For him Russia is the last outpost for a sport that was once great in this part of the world. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian team is dropping in world rankings. Its not developing. If Im not mistaken, two years ago they started a National League but its already folded. Theres a national championship but its not very exciting. But we do have the Donbass hockey team that plays in the Intercontinental League (the second biggest league after the NHL) and showing good results. The decline is due to funding, he says. Why do we train at night? There are about 50 amateur teams in Kyiv and nearby towns, and only three to four ice rinks where we can play hockey.

Curtis bj Bjelajac
California is not generally thought of as being a stronghold of ice hockey, yet while Curtis Bjelajac is a Southern Californian native he has always been a huge ice hockey fan. It stems from the admiration a son has for his father. My dad played while growing up in the Iron Range of Minnesota, and continued playing with his three brothers when their family moved to Los Angeles just before he entered high school in the early 60s.
In Kyiv, BJ and a group of friends resurrected that tradition. Playing outdoors in winter, on ponds when conditions allow, his and his friends involvement in the sport was spontaneous. Its not organised to the point where we have a team as such, just some friends that get together to play as much as possible. Despite the informality, on the ice its business of sorts, he says. The group of friends I play with is competitive by nature, but we try to not take the fun out of the game. It helps that we only play pick-up hockey. It seems anytime you formalise any sport use referees, keep score...the competitiveness goes to a level that almost always takes a bit of fun out of the game.

Thrills...And Spills
The fun also comes with some rough and tumble, BJ says. Its definitely rough. I dont think anybody gets done playing without some bumps and bruises. If youre unlucky, you are looking at stitches, lost teeth, or worse, he says. And he and his friends have come off second best on more than one occasion. I have suffered some injuries. Black eyes, stitches, broken noses have all happened even in our friendly pond hockey games. Unfortunately, as the game gets faster, knee injuries and concussions are more commonplace. At higher levels head injuries are common. Risks on ice are avoided from an armchair, from which BJ avidly follows the sport: I grew up a Los Angeles Kings fan. Thus, I am a big fan of the NHL. I also follow the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League based in Russia) given that a lot of the games are shown at comfortable times here in Kyiv.

Hockey Post-Soviet
The greatest battle in world ice hockey is now being waged in Sochi, Russia. BJ gives his view from the bleachers. Typically, the two strongest teams in international ice hockey competitions are the Russians and the Canadians. Those two teams will be amongst the favourites. Given that the North American teams (Canada and the US) play on smaller ice surfaces than in Sochi, I think that one of the European teams will come out on top. The favourite is probably Russia, but I would keep an eye on the Swedes as well. They are big, strong, and skilled on the ice, he says.
As for Ukraine, he believes it will remain a minority sport here. In Ukraine, I think that ice hockey has always been a distant third behind football and basketball when it comes to team sports. Even during the days of the strong Soviet teams, the bulk of the team was Russian, with only a few players from other republics.

Get your Skates on Where to Play
Terminal Ice Arena
Kyivska 316, Brovary (M Lisova)

Katok Sports Complex
Layosha Gavro 4g (entrance from Priozerna Street, M Obolon)
221-8193, 200-2234

Krizhinka Rink
Zhmachenko 7 (M Darnitsa)
543-9849, 418-2147
No official site but information can be found here; www.katok.vitava.com.ua/kiev/katok-kryzhynka-darnitsa.php

Arcadia Rink
Dniprovska Embankment 33 (M Osokorky)
Again no official site but info can be found here; www.hnb.com.ua/catalog/item-27289-arkadiya

Sokol Hockey Club
Melnikova 46 (M Dorohozhychi)

by Jared Morgan

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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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