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7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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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.

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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.

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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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Ukraine Travel
Times are tough these days, so our roving reporters, Kitten and the Bear, who like to travel around Ukraine and tell you what they find, havent been doing as much of that as they would like recently. But summer is here, and that necessitates a break away from the madding crowd, so during August the two of them headed to Crimea, and the coastal town of Alushta for a few days relaxation.

May Days are fast approaching bringing with them an extra long weekend. What to do? Get out of the city! To make the decision process a little bit easier, weve compiled a list of a few fascinating destinations that wont take you too far out of the city centre but far enough to feel like you have had a proper break.
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New in town and wondering how to get around? Or just lost your job and your company car and wondering the same thing? Kyiv has a unique, interesting and effective public transport system, and its pretty cheap too. So if its all new to you, and youre not quite sure how it works, heres a special Whats On guide to help you on your way.

What to watch for
Babushkas: They may look cute, but on public transport they become violent little demons. Give them a wide berth
Pickpockets: Instances of this are rare, but on the rise. Because of the crush, things are easily accessible to them.
Drunks: Late at night (and even early in the morning) drunks on public transport are a problem. They are more often a nuisance than dangerous, but best to steer clear.
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Ukrainians tend to look to their neighbours like Poland or Slovakia for skiing, or, if they can afford to, they gaze as far away as the Alps or the Rockies. Why? Simple: those places have more well-developed resorts (while the Rockies, up there on the high-altitude middle of the American continent, simply have more and drier snow). But in the last few years domestic winter tourism has been on the rise in Ukraine, and resorts in the country have been rushing to meet the demand.

Id heard nothing but good things about Uzhgorod, the little city stuck in behind the Carpathians in a kind of no mans land of borders and frontiers, and it was somewhere Katusha had been on at me to visit for a while, so it was with a fair amount of enthusiasm we boarded the train on a balmy summers evening to head there for a long weekend.
But waking the following morning with the train trundling through the Carpathian Mountains, we noticed wed left the sun way back in Kyiv. A heavy and incessant rain was cascading from the sky over this spectacular landscape, and, judging by the rivers, which were swollen to breaking point, it had been doing so for some time.


Its the time of the year for getting out of Kyiv on a weekend and seeing a little more of this wonderful country. Its something Kitten and I try to do as often as possible, but due to work commitments we were late getting started this year, so now weve got some catching up to do. We managed to get hold of a car and thought wed head to Poltava for a couple of days as wed both heard very good things about it, and its the sight of Ukraines most famous battle.

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The Other Crimea
Out of Yalta and Away From the Ex-Pats
Lots of ex-pats hear Vacationing in Crimea and generally think Yalta. If they only understood how wrong they are.
I know a lot of Ukrainians, and Ukrainians know a lot about Crimea, which is why Ive been blessed by being coaxed into the sweeter, better, more provincial Crimea beyond the gilded-class perversions of latter-day Yalta. Crimeas a sleepy southland, what Southern California must have been like a before we all destroyed it, and not an hour passes when Im down on the Black Seat peninsula that I dont make remind myself that Im experiencing something that shouldnt be possible at so cheap a price.

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For all the travelling we do around Ukraine, weve never really seen much of the countryside because we always travel by train, which, while being an easy and affordable option, usually means travelling by night when theres not much to see, so this time we got hold of a car and decided to head to Cherkassy for the day.
Travelling by train in Ukraine definitely has its advantages, but the one setback is the train tracks are usually lined with trees which make viewing the scenery difficult, and the trains usually travel overnight, which makes seeing anything of the country more or less impossible. People have been telling us for some time that the Ukrainian countryside is truly beautiful and to see it as its best a car is most definitely needed, so Kitten and I got hold of one and decided to take a trip. We chose Cherkassy as our destination as it is within easy reach for a day trip, and because wed heard lots of good things about it, especially its beaches, so early one Sunday morning, we jumped in the car and headed off...


Odessa might be the Ukrainian city with the highest profile, given that its been such a source of Jewish culture. Its a gorgeous city that goes back to the days of Catherine the Great, and a literary city associated with Pushkin and Babel. The raffish port town back in the pre-revolutionary era, Odessa is a place on which French, Greeks, Russians, Armenians, Italians, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Germans have made their mark, and its polyglot history lives on in the street names, which bear tribute to many of these ethnicities.

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Poltava, in central Ukraine, is a centre of Ukrainian culture thats easily reached by bus or by train. Its where the purest type of Ukrainian was spoken and it was the home of the 19th-century intellectuals, like Ivan Kotlyarevsky, who founded Ukrainian literary culture. The centre of the old city is a semicircular neoclassical square featuring the Tuscan Column of cast iron, commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Poltava, which is the crucial battle at which Peter the Great finally beat the seemingly invincible Swedish King Charles XII, thus setting the stage for the expansion of the Russian Empire.


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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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