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On the cover
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 11

30 March - 5 April

King of Kyiv
Historic Premiere of Ukrainian Opera ‘Yaroslav the Wise’

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From THE EDITOR - Editorial

Can you imagine a German public service provider using images of Hitler to persuade customers to pay their bills? The mere idea is so ridiculous and offensive that it doesn’t even warrant discussion, and yet this month a state-owned Donetsk heating company saw fit to plaster Soviet dictator Stalin all over bill boards in the Donbass in a bid to get errant clients to settle thousands of unpaid bills (see What’s Up on page 4 for details). Officials justified the move by claiming that their poster boy Stalin, whose reign of terror saw tens of millions starved to death, deported, executed without trial by the secret services or enslaved in the world’s largest ever network of concentration camps, is associated in the public eye with ‘order and discipline’. The tragedy here is that to many Ukrainians this is exactly what the world’s bloodiest ever ruler does stand for. The historically entrenched Russian interpretation of history as being polarised into distinct periods of ‘order’ and ‘chaos’ underpins this ideology of acceptance, allowing otherwise intelligent people to stubbornly overlook some of humanity’s worst crimes in the name of a fabled discipline that somehow justifies suffering beyond most people’s imagination. Numbed by decades of brutality and powerlessness, they shrug and say, ‘at least the trains ran on time’ or ‘it would never have happened under Stalin!’, as if on some level they share in the triumph of his terror. The fact that such attitudes continue to prevail in large parts of post-Soviet Ukraine alongside a fledgling democratic culture is a stunning indictment of man’s ability to reject freedoms in the name of dogma, and is something that no amount of human rights empowerment can effectively counter. Ultimately it is the continued currency of this mentality that makes so many fellow Europeans despair for the emergence of a freer Ukraine, and when you see examples like these Stalin posters it is hard to blame them. 

Peter Dickinson, Editor

Donetsk Officials Use Stalin to Intimidate General Public - Whats Up?

Officials at the state-run Donetsk Heating Company provoked a heated debate this month when they ran a big board campaign featuring Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in a bid to scare customers into settling their unpaid utility bills. The controversial posters (above) featured Stalin along with the caption ‘Comrades! This is not cinema, this is real life. Anyone who does not pay their heating bill will be punished.’ The campaign was hailed as a success, with Donetsk Heating Company spokesperson Alexandra Semchenko quoted as saying, “most people associate Stalin with order and discipline. This campaign will force them to think about the consequences of being behind with their payments.”


Bananas at Anti-Racism Event - Whats Up?

A press conference held ahead of the 6 April ‘March Against Racism’ demonstration was marred when a nationalist journalist threw a bunch of bananas at Pastor Sunday Adelaja of the Embassy of God church before being removed by security. Nigerian born Sunday is one of Ukraine’s most prominent Africans and has been at the forefront of the campaign to combat racially motivated violence in the country which has claimed the lives of three Africans in the past few months. Racial violence perpetrated by extreme nationalist groups has plagued Russia in recent years and unconfirmed reports of a rising tide of attacks in Kyiv have prompted the organisers of the march to campaign for a law to be introduced outlawing racial discrimination and introducing harsh penalties for those guilty of racially motivated attacks. The March Against Racism will take place on 6 April and all are welcome to attend. Participants should gather at the Palace of Sports at 09.00 for the march, which will pass along Khreschatyk and on up to the parliament building where a petition will be presented to lawmakers.     

New Ukrainian Rich List - Whats Up?

 Last week saw Focus magazine publish a list of the one hundred richest Ukrainians, and it would appear that those included are a lot richer than the recent Forbes 500 listings would suggest. The latest league table of the mega rich says that Ukraine has a staggering ten billionaires and ninety multi-millionaires and unsurprisingly those topping the list are the oligarchs who made their fortunes during the privatisation of national industries. Sitting in pole position is the Donetsk overlord and industrialist Rinat Akhmetov who, according to Focus is worth the not-inconsiderable sum of 12 billion dollars. Following closely at his heels are Lakshmi Mittal (4.7 bln), Viktor Pinchuk (4.4 bln) Ighor Kolomoysky (3.3 bln), Gennadiy Bogolyubov (3.2 bln), Vitaliy Gayduk (2.3 bln), Sergiy Taruta (2,3 bln), Kostyantyn Zhevago (1.7 bln), Dmytro Firtash (1.4 bln), and Volodymyr Boyko (1.3 bln). Of the 100 listed only a handful have less than 100 million dollars, a very handsome sum considering the country is statistically one of Europe’s poorest with official annual salaries well below EU averages.

Overlooking Modern Slavery - Whats Up?

The 200th anniversary of the UK’s abolition of the trade in African slaves was marked last week, but there remain more slaves today than there were even during the 18th century. While the vast majority are in Africa and Asia, Europe’s biggest source country is Ukraine, with thousands trafficked abroad every year to work in the sex industry or in construction. Ukraine has a long history as a source country for slaves as it was one of the primary locations for the slaves of the Ottoman empire while also suffering Crimean Tatar slave raids throughout the early modern period. National hero Roksolana is the most famous Ukrainian slave who is traditionally credited with having used her influence with the Turkish Sultan to free many of her countrymen. Many of today’s Ukrainian slaves find themselves trafficked into bondage after accepting offers of work abroad, and even those who manage to escape continue to live in fear of retribution from the criminals behind the trade.   

Star Plays Down Eurovision Scandal - Kyiv Culture

Verka Serdyuchka has created a great deal of controversy with his/her catchy Eurovision entry ‘Dancing’, the lyrics of which have been the source of much discussion. A BBC journalist visiting Ukraine to interview the Eurovision favourite brought rumours that the song, in which can be heard the oft-repeated words ‘Russia Goodbye’ is about Vladimir Putin cutting off the gas to Ukraine last winter. Verka vehemently denies that these words appear in her song, but whether her protestations are genuine or tongue-in-cheek is anyone’s guess.


Real Estate Boom Town - Special Feature

A Rough Guide to Kyiv Property, Region by Region

 Ukraine is fast becoming as famous for its sky-rocketing property market as it for the Orange Revolution and the Klitschko boxing brothers, with real estate prices quite capable of jumping by 10% or more in the space of a single month. Many people have been tempted to take the plunge and invest in this seemingly win-win market, but with so much on offer and thousands of different agents and brokers looking to make that sale, what should the discerning would-be property magnate be looking for, and more importantly, where should they try to buy their new apartment? What’s On looks at the pitfalls of the market and offers an overview of the Ukrainian capital’s real estate market options, region by region. 


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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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