|On the cover|
Tunnelling Towards Hope
|28 February - 6 March 2014|
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.
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.
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.
|Just a Minute|
Provocations & Observations (#5)
Since I first arrived in Kyiv almost eight years ago, I’ve been amazed by the creativity and artistic bent of the Ukrainian people – almost everyone, whether it be lawyer, doctor, street cleaner or teacher, is involved or directly participates in one or other of the creative arts.
It all started with simple jokes, like the chap who wrote in the dirt on his car: “Don’t follow me, I’m the fifth.” And the people posting photos of themselves wearing colanders and pots on their heads. Humour goes a long way to attack the psyche of a brutal regime.
The past couple of weeks have shown some real gems of creative flare that have brought a tear to the eye. The first I saw was the video of Euromaidan put to the soundtrack of the final speech from Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 satire on Hitler, The Great Dictator.
The words in the speech are powerful in themselves, and probably the best words ever spoken in the hopes of advancing a civilisation based upon compassion and kindness, but put to the images of the protests, they fill with personal meaning. And for me, the sadness was deepened by the fact that these wonderful words were spoken for the first time almost 70 years ago, and still the people of this world have to battle against brutishness and thuggery.
My personal favourite, which I came across for the first time at the weekend is the video entitled Happy Kyiv, which, if you’ve not already seen it, you really must look up on YouTube.
It kicks off to some young people and folk dressed in animal costumes dancing to the tune of Happy by Pharrell Williams in the centre of Kyiv, and slowly introduces shots that highlight the stand-off between the protestors and the police. It finishes off by some of the protestors telling in simple words what would make them happy. It’s powerful indeed.
Another video I came across just before writing this is simply of a young lady standing on Maidan, explaining what it is the people want, and as we all know it’s not much – dignity, personal freedoms, justice.
The people of Ukraine have their dignity, and those who think they can steal it from them will lose. The people of Ukraine have courage and determination, and those who think they can crush it are wrong. The people of Ukraine are just and they deserve justice. The people of Ukraine have talent, spirit, and humour, and that will override the brutality of those stealing from them. The people of Ukraine will win this fight. Those they are fighting against should be afraid.
Kyiv Top Five
Ukraine has been taking part in the Olympic Games since 1994, debuting at the Lillehammer Winter Olympics. In total, independent Ukraine has received 115 medals at Summer Olympics and six medals at the Winter Olympics, 36 of which are gold. The sports Ukraine excels best at are athletics, gymnastics, boxing and wrestling. The Top 5 Ukrainian Olympians are:
1. Swimmer Yana Klochkova – two gold medals in 2000 and two in 2004
2. Boxer Vasyl Lomachenko – gold in 2008 and 2012
3. Gymnast Lilia Podkopaeva – two gold medals in 1996
4. Figure Skater Oksana Bayul – the first ever Olympic gold for Ukraine at the Winter Olympics in 1994
5. Wrestler Vyacheslav Oliynyk – the first Ukrainian at a Summer Olympics in 1996 to win gold (he was quickly followed by Podkopaeva)
A parody double-act, prophesy, and for now calm prevails. There’s room for some black humour as EuroMaidan and Sochi cross paths in our tweets of the week.
Berkut Guy (@Sh*tBerkutSays) is communicating via Twitter (wink):
I can’t believe it’s only a day until the Olympics in my hometown of Soch....uhh, I mean that place I’ve never been to Sochi. #euromaidan
Not to be outdone, his “commander-in-chief” Viktor In English (@ViktorInEnglish) is also in on the act:
I told the kids on the Ukrainian team I was stopping by the Olympic Village for a photo op. They built a barricade.
Abdullah (@Mr_3abdullah) says what so many others are predicting:
The #SochiOlympics are the only thing standing between Ukrainian protesters and Putin’s thugs.
But for now it’s all quiet on the EuroMaidan front, James Wilson (@BusinessUkraine):
The situation in Kyiv in recent days has remained relatively calm; a truce has been maintained on the Maidan.
The hottest look from New York Fashion Week is apparently crowns, G-strings, trench coats, and business-like shoes and socks. Ukraine’s own true-to-life version of Borat, reporter Vitaliy Sediuk, wore this flasher-chic when he gate-crashed Prabal Gurung’s runway show on 8 January. Already known for such stunts, this year he’s more active than ever having affixed himself to Hollywood stars Bradley Cooper and Leonardo DiCaprio on the red carpet for this awards season. Last year he attempted to accept one of Adele’s swag of Grammy awards and in 2012 was infamously slapped by Will Smith for trying to kiss the actor on the lips at the Russian premiere of MIB3. Funny? You decide.
Given their bad press, this trio of Ministry of Interior officers posing for a (beloved by Ukrainians) “selfie” can surely lay claim to an award for being “inappropriate” given what is happening on the streets. Posing in full gear and demonstrating the mandatory “duck-lips”, we think it either smacks of supreme arrogance in the circumstances, or the guys are simply showing they are just as self-obsessed as any other person under 30.
One day, a foreign delegation arrived unexpectedly to a collective farm. There was no time to prepare, and so after they left, the chairman of the collective farm called a meeting of the District Party committee.
“You didn’t warn me in advance,” he said. “They saw everything – the ruined cow sheds, all the dirt, and all our misery and poverty.”
“Don’t worry,” the Party secretary said.
“But now they will tell the world about what a mess it is here,” said the chairman.
“So, let them indulge in their usual slander,” said the Party secretary.
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Provocations & Observations (#7)
Provocations & Observations (#6)
Provocations & Observations (#4)
Provocations & Observations (#3)
Provocations & Observations (#2)
|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|
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.