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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.


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29 June - 5 July

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The Ukrainian Capital as Fashion Statement

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From THE EDITOR - Editorial

when watching for signs of progress in the emerging countries of Eastern Europe it has long been standard operating procedure to focus on the major indicators like GDP growth, a free press, democratic elections and so forth. This is all well and good, but it can often be the little things that offer the surest sign of a shift towards better times. This was the case again last week during the impromptu events held across town to mark the anniversary of Nazi Germany's 1941 invasion of the Soviet UNI0N, when a burst of fashionable flair demonstrated that even the disillusioned veteran generation are not immune to the effects of boom town Kyiv. Holidays like this have long been the preserve of the stony faced Soviet vanguard, but the 2007 vigil was marked by the appearance of what can only be termed as 'Granny Glamour' with the obligatory Stalin portrait-waving babushka decked out in a chic designer outfit and classy black glasses (see page 9 for details). For years such Stalinists have been a mainstay of the communist holiday calendar, bringing their particular brand of misery and brimstone to old school anniversaries while sporting the regulation headscarf and damning the lack of iron discipline in the youth of today. Such sentiments will not go away overnight and are themselves an indication of the challenges Ukraine faces in coming to terms with the country's troubled history, but nevertheless when even the Stalin Babushki start leaning towards catwalk cool you know the country is heading in the right direction. Stalin himself would surely not have approved of such bourgeois decadence but there's no denying that it was very much in keeping with the present mood in town and a sign of the times if ever there was one.

Peter Dickinson

Compromise Saves Kyiv’s Euro 2012 Final Ambitions - Whats Up?

State Finally Agrees Compensation Payment to Group Behind Controversial Construction
UEFA President Michel Platini waded into the rumbling row over the build− ing site close to the Olympic Stadium last week by stating unconditionally that unless construction ceased and the area was leveled off then the Euro 2012 final could not be played in the country’s national stadium as planned. Government officials reacted quickly to the snub and appeared to have resolved the problem 25 June with an announcement by Vice Prime Minister Volodymyr Rybak that the state had agreed to pay compensation to the people behind the project as part of a deal to remove the huge building works and ease access to the stadium. This compromise agreement comes after years of arguing over the legal− ity of the troubled site which has its roots in the power changes ushered in by the Or− ange Revolution. Originally the project was to build a giant shopping and entertainment complex. Work at the site dates back to the reign of former Kyiv mayor Omelchenko and his architectural colleague Babushkin, who are together widely regarded as the driving force behind many of the building projects to have sprung up all over down− town Kyiv in the past ten years which have been attacked for destroying the face of the city’s historical centre. Prior to the start of construction works the site had housed Respublikansky Market, and was an open plan area allowing good access to the sta− dium and easing congestion on big match days. UEFA officials feared that the huge construction could risk cutting off access to the stadium and create crowd control problems during Euro 2012. They have also grown exasperated following years of calls for something to be done about the problem and are anxious to see work begin on the reconstruction of the stadium itself. The award of Euro 2012 to Ukraine and Po− land is one of the biggest gambles ever by European football’s governing body, and of− ficials at UEFA Headquarters in Switzerland are thought to be keen to see work get un− derway as soon as possible. Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium, so called because it hosted some minor events during the 1980 Moscow Olympics, was built in 1923 and renovated in 1998, but is in need of a total rehaul if it is to come up to scratch as the prestige host venue for the Euro 2012 Final itself.


Mujahideen in Crimea - Whats Up?

Anyone taking a stroll around sunny Semeiz, Crimea last weekend might have found themselves running for the hills if they were unlucky enough to stumble into this bat− talion of heavily armed Mujahideen fighters! Luckily the terrifying scenes did not mark a sharp deterioration in Tatar−Slavic relations but were merely part of filming for Volody− myr Makanin’s Chechen War blockbuster, which continued all last week amid the stunning scenery that stretches along the mountainous Crimean coastline. The Muslim Crimean Tatar population has been steadily increasing in the autonomous peninsula ever since the first returnees began arriving in the last years of Soviet rule, but greiv− ances over land redistribution and cultural clashes with the majority Slavic population have increasingly polarised the two com− munities in recent years. Fears are growing that the moderate Muslim majority within the Tatar population is losing influence to a more radicalised generation which might pursue their territorial claims more force− fully. The Crimean Tatars were deported in a massive operation mounted in 1944 for the crime of alleged mass collaboration with the invading Nazi forces. Tens of thousands of lives were lost during the deportation to Central Asia.

Traditional Stalin Babushka Goes Glamourous - Whats Up?

If the endless rows of luxury sedans that dominate the downtown scene where not enough to convince you that Kyiv is experiencing a serious boom then proof positive was on display at the anniverary events to mark the Nazi invasion of the USSR, where even the traditional 'Stalin Babushka' swapped her trademark scowl and shawl for a very fetching pink number and shades. It was glamour all the way for this sensational Stalinist who introduced just a touch of the Coco Chanel to her outfit, demonstrating that even fans of world history's bloodiest dictator are feeling the benefits in boom town Kyiv. Stalin Babushkas have been an essential part of the Soviet public holiday scene ever since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, but this is the first recorded sighting of an actual 'Stylish Stalinka'.

Ukraine’s Loch Ness Monster - Whats Up?

Reports are circulating of a new sighting of the legendary Lake Somin Serpent, a mys− terious monster which has been haunting the residents of a nearby West Ukrainian village in the Polessie lowlands for over a century. Locals have been avoiding the lake for generations af− ter reports began to circulate of a huge serpent with the body of a crocodile and the head of a monster in the early twentieth century. A report from the village chairman sent to Warsaw (at the time West Ukraine was incorporated into interwar Poland) states that villagers were not paying the fish tax because a ‘giant serpent’ was eating all the fish. According to the report the unidentified beast had also harassed livestock and local farmers. Village elders claim that the recent sightings are the first for thirty years, and say that the monster is known to moan and wheeze throughout the night. Some scientists believe that the creature is actually a giant catfish of the kind commonly found in the lakes and ponds of the region. Catfish have been known to grow to up to two meters in length throughout West Ukraine. Other experts claim that the monster could be a prehistoric freshwater shark which inexplicably survived the last Ice Age. Archeological finds in the region of fossilised fish bones certainly suggest that it was once home to large water−borne carnivores. Lake Somin itself is over fifty metres deep and is part of a chain of lakes that are all that is left of an ancient freshwater sea. Many of the three hundred lakes scattered around the area are linked by underground caves and tunnels, and locals remain convinced that these underwater caverns hold the secret to the Somin Serpent. Cynics have suggested that the latest sighting is nothing short of an attempt to boost tourism in the region, pointing to the long−standing use of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ to drum up interest in Scotlands tourist centres despite any concrete evidence that such an animal ever existed.

Kuchma Laments Loosening of Russian Ties - Whats Up?

Former President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma last week presented his new book, ‘After Maidan’. This latest tome is more than 600 pages long, written in the Russian language and printed by Russia’s ‘Worker of the Urals’ publishing house. It features reminiscences of meetings with world leaders while in office and also includes some critical comments about the current political situation in Ukraine. In the book Kuchma, who was president for ten years prior to the 2004 Orange Revolution, expresses regret that ties between Ukraine and the Russian Federation have deteriorated since he left office, something he termed as ‘a tragedy for Ukraine’. Since leaving office Kuchma has been a regular at Russian cultural events and Soviet anniversaries, and was pictured at the recent Elton John gig alongside Russian Ambassador Viktor Chernomyrdin as well as being one the VIP guests to be evacuated when fire brought the concert of Soviet Sinatra Josef Kobzon to a premature end last week. This is by no means the literary debut of the former rocket plant chief turned post−Soviet political leader. Kuchma’s first venture into the world of book publishing was the celebrated 2002 title ‘Ukraine is not Russia’, a book he authored while serving head of state that for many people summed up the identity crisis of the nation in a single line.

Call for International Election Observers - Whats Up?

President Yushchenko confirmed that he had invited EU observers to help monitor the parliamentary elections called for 30 Septem− ber. “I have instructed the foreign Ministry to send invitations to European Institutions to monitor the elections,” he confirmed following a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. European and North American elec− tion observers played a crucial role in helping identify the attempts at mass electoral fraud that provoked the Orange Revolution in No− vember 2004 following government attempts to steal the vote through a combination of multi−voting coach convoys, ‘dead soul’ voter lists, electoral commission corruption and the use of widespread intimidation and bribery. Since the popular uprising of 2004 Ukraine has witnessed two votes that have been given the green light by international observers, but fears remain that the country could slip back into the practices of vote rigging common elsewhere throughout the former Soviet world if vigilance is not maintained. Any internation− al Kyivites interested in volunteering to serve as observers should contact their embassies.

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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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