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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.


What's On Archive ¹ 8

9 March - 15 March

National Hero?
Should Verka win Ukraine’s controversial Eurovision nomination?

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From THE EDITOR - Editorial

There are a lot of folk in Kyiv who think comedy drag act Verka Serdyuchka will be an embarrassment to Ukraine if allowed to represent the country at Eurovision, and so this week’s TV vote has become quite a partisan affair (see page 10 for details). Verka is the act with the giant inflatable breasts, appalling make-up and a taste for garish earrings who’s been around long enough to have become a familiar sight even to most foreigners and one of the biggest icons of post-Independence Ukraine. Nevertheless the ‘No to Verka’ campaign has been surprisingly impassioned in the run-up to the big vote. The logic seems to be that he/she pokes fun at the national language and culture, depicting Ukrainians as uneducated, vulgar and often intoxicated while scoring points by pouring chauvinistic scorn on rural tradition. That is all no doubt true, but even so there is no escaping the fact that Verka is hugely popular. And genuinely funny. For my money it is the very fact that Verka’s humour is of the self-depreciating variety that makes him/her a good Eurovision ambassador for Ukraine. The ability to laugh at oneself is a particularly attractive character trait, and one which would suggest that Ukraine has grown in confidence and no longer has reason to feel overly defensive or insecure about itself as a nation. To the extent that something as silly as Eurovision can be said to shape people’s perceptions of their European neighbours, Verka would be a breath of fresh air that would challenge the deeply ingrained prejudices about this part of the world of stony faced Soviets and humourless automatons. In the past few years Ukraine has been represented by historic Cossack dancers, revolutionaries and a blonde bombshell, so perhaps a touch of humour is just what’s needed.

Peter Dickinson

International Snowboarding in the City Centre! - Picture Perfect

Competitors from all over Europe gathered at Kyiv’s downtown ski resort over the weekend 3-4 March to participate in the latest international contest to be held in the Ukrainian capital. The Protasyv Yar Ski slope is only a few hundred metres in length but has been on the receiving end of constant improvements in recent years and now regluarly plays host to internationally sanctioned ski and snowboard events.

Photography: Roman Nesterovsky

Yulia Mania Goes Stateside as Donbass Powers  Cry Foul - Whats Up?

Opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko was given a very warm high-level welcome in Washington last week in a much lauded visit which highlighted America’s continued commitment to building on the progress in bilateral relations made since the Orange Revolution of 2004, when pro-democracy forces overturned mass election fraud and brought President Yushchenko to power in the country’s first ever free vote. Parliamentary elections have since brought the pro-Russian Donbass party of Vitkor Yanukovich back into power due to bickering among the former Orange allies but the US government is thought to be reluctant to give up its support for a pro-Western direction for the key former Soviet republic, and this trip sent a strong signal out that Washington is ready to offer backing to any candidate thought capable of leading the reform and European integration process in Kyiv. 


MP Says Parliament Would Use Force - Whats Up?

Social MP Vasyl Volha sparked outrage and frenzied debate last week when he raised the specter of troops on the streets of the capital as the political temperature continued to rise amid rumours of proposals for new elections and plans by the president to dissolve parliament. Speaking in an interview in Den newspaper, which is edited by the wife of former security chief Yevhen Marchuk, Volha claimed that in the event of any such decree from President Yushchenko dissolving parliament the Internal Ministry troops would be ordered by the Cabinet of Ministers to encircle all government buildings and allow the existing government to continue to function in direct contravention of the presidential decree.


New Russian Journalist Death - Whats Up?

A high profile defence correspondent was found dead in suspicious circumstances in Moscow 2 March. The body of Ivan Safronov was discovered on the pavement having apparently fallen from his fifth floor apartment window with Moscow prosecutors immediately stating that they suspected suicide, a charge that the journalist’s colleagues at the relatively progressive Kommersant newspaper described as groundless. Safranov had a track record of breaking embarrassing exclusives that exposed the flaws of the Russian military, and had recently dampened excitement over Russia’s experimental Bulava intercontinental missile by pointing out that it didn’t actually work. The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists said in January that 13 journalists had been murdered in contract-style killings since the beginning of 2006, makjing Russia the third deadliest country for journalists after Iraq and Algeria. Ukraine was also plagued by journalism deaths prior to the Orange Revolution which proved a watershed in the creation of a free press in the former Soviet republic when thousands of journalists refused to participate in state censorship and joined street protests against rigged elections.

Police Top Corruption Poll - Whats Up?

According to a Gorshenin Institute poll released last week 51.7% of Ukrainians consider the police force to be the most corrupt state organ in the country. In second place came Ukraine’s courts of law, with 49.4% of those polled seeing the country’s judiciary as the most corrupt body in the land. When questioned about the practice of bribery, just 40.1% said they felt bribe-taking was ‘widespread’ in Ukraine, but 58.3% expressed the opinion that no action would be taken against those who accepted bribes as part of their everyday jobs.

Iraqi Orange Revolution - Whats Up?

There were echoes of Maidan in northern Iraq last week when thousands of Kurdish students waved orange flags and banners in a bid modelled on Ukraine’s 2004 revolution to encourage Iraqi officials to take action against rampant corruption. “We are trying to send a message to the government to persuade them to take measures against corruption,” the movement’s leader Zana Abdel Karim told reporters. Since Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution the colour orange has been adopted by pro-democracy and human rights movements all over the world, notably in Romania, Lebanon, and Central Asia.

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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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