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On the cover
№7 (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.


Dear Viktor Fedorovych,
It appears to us here at What’s On that you’re having a few public relations disasters at the moment, and that you may be in need of some help. Together with the Tymoshenko debacle and the Russian gas dispute, it seems that you’ve managed to alienate just about everybody who matters on the world stage, to say nothing of the electorate back home. Whilst we here at What’s On hold no PR qualifications, we’re worldly-wise, and if you take our advice, you’d struggle to do a worse job than you are currently. With that in mind, dear Viktor, we urge you to read on.

Letter to the President
Dear Viktor,
As the new university year begins, it seems a good time to write to you pointing out that the higher education system – like most things in Ukraine – still suffers from corruption. True, it’s not entirely rotten to the core, but there are still too many examples to ignore, with bribes for both admission and grades. The worry is that the system keeps the stupid powerful and the intelligent desperate to leave the country.
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Will Georgia’s Fate Wake Up Ukraine’s Rulers?

The Russian invasion of Georgia this month should have smacked a complacent Ukrainian political class into some semblance of clarity. Should have – but did it?
It must have been fun belonging to the ‘democratic, Western-leaning’ ‘orange’ portion of the Ukrainian political class these last several years. Let’s say, for example, that you were President Yushchenko, that ‘reformist’ hero still popular in the West, if not at home. All you had to do was mumble out the occasional vague speech and jet off once in a while to mug for the cameras with Nicolas Sarkozy or Bill Clinton. People pinned medals on your chest in Boston and Philadelphia and for some reason Gerard Depardieu thought you were cool. Meanwhile, back home your cronies were looting everything that wasn’t riveted down and shoveling the resultant cash into Cyprus bank accounts, or using it to buy bunker-looking dachas or Bentleys with which to tool up to the entrances of vulgar restaurants. Your approval rating was down in the single digits, but who cared?

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Ukraine’s Rising Xenophobia
I have always known that a pub I go to sometimes is occasionaly frequented by young folk with extreme nationalist views. In fact, I have on occasion sat and discussed it with them in an attempt to understand what drives them to this position, and to try and reason with them. You can, however, imagine my shock when I went there recently and found this graffiti on the wall outside.
“Breathes there the man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, this is my own, my native land!” are lines from a Sir Walter Scott poem that for a long time was one of my favourites. I remember watching a TV programme presented by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly who quoted these lines while standing on the banks of Loch Lomond – a truly beautiful spot. Immediately after speaking the words he went on to say: “You have to fight these feelings.” I wondered why.
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The Smoking Dilemma In Ukraine

With cigarettes costing somewhere around 5hrv, added to the fact that you can smoke virtually anywhere, trying to cut out the deadly habit isn’t easy in Ukraine. With the country suffering from serious demographic problems, which are likely only to get worse in coming years, it may well be time for the Ukrainian government to follow the example of many other countries, and introduce a blanket ban. As a smoker who would dearly love to quit, I would welcome any moves in this direction.

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Ukraine’s Future in Their Hands

Since the euphoria Orange Revolution in November 2004 when the people took control and won out over a corrupt system, Ukraine’s political situation has, sad to say, been less than stable. The big question now is, will this latest round of elections lead to a long running stable government, or will the country’s politicians continue to bicker like school children over their slice of the pie?
Who’s going to come out on top in the elections on Sunday? According to all the polls the Party of Regions will get the biggest percentage of the vote followed by Yulia Tymonshenko with Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense coming in third and the Communists following up the rear. And then there is the new kids on the Kuchma Bloc who many pollsters have put out in front in the most recent polls.

The Rise of Euro Fashion

There was a time when you could guess whether someone was foreign or Ukrainian by looking at their shoes. The great fashion divide was so deep that in the absence of ethnic characteristics you could still tell from a distance where someone was from. That is emphatically no longer the case, both because of the ever increasing availability of Western fashions at affordable prices and the exposure to and adoption of Western clothing as part of a more integrated European lifestyle. One of the most striking areas of fashion fusion has been among young ladies, with the miniskirts and high heels which were worn with an almost religious intensity at the turn of the millennium now joined by punkier styles, trainers and baggy sportswear. There is a huge amount of colour and originality on the streets of Kyiv these days compared to the blacks and grays of the 1990s, when leather jackets were standard issue and many girls dressed in vulgar, revealing outfits and cheap animal prints.

A Wealth of Options

Back in the day there were only about twenty places in Kyiv where anyone with money would consider going out, and on any given evening you could pretty much guess where the VIP scene would be. It was a lot of fun, but it was yawningly predictable. These days there are so many options that even being editor of a listings mag like What’s On does not guarantee that you’re aware of them all. There was a time when I could confidently say I’d been in every single decent Kyiv restaurant and nightclub, but that would probably be impossible to achieve now given the sheer scale of the capital’s leisure industry expansion. The past six years have seen the emergence of a whole strata of society with considerable disposable income comparable with the wealthier middle classes of Western Europe, and I think that people still don’t realise quite how comparatively wealthy Kyivites have become.

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Paparazzi People

As I look at the banks of photographers scrumming down to snap away at the lines of gushing celebrities and wannabes at any given party these days it seems almost inconceivable to think that there was a time not so long ago when it was difficult getting Kyiv people to pose for the camera. I always thought this camera coyness was some sort of KGB hangover, and part of the whole insecurity thing that also made people cautious about disclosing personal details to strangers. We’d often get people coming over and demanding our photographers handed over their film (this was before the advent of digital technology, obviously). They would generally be rude and sometimes aggressive, although as far as I know we always got away with promising not to publish the offending image. A common situation was for a man to be angry after being photographed with his female ompanion, who it soon transpired was not actually his wife! The fact that people are now so comfortable being photographed is an indication of a new openness that has come from the top down and is all part of a willingness to engage and a lessening of the desire to control every facet of human existence which I think drove society here for a long time.

Six Years of Covering Kyiv

This week’s summer issue of What’s On will be the last ever from Chief Editor Peter Dickinson, who has been running the English-language weekly city guide for six years and is now moving on to become Chief Editor at Business Ukraine magazine. As he bows out Peter reflects on the changes he has seen over the years while covering developments in Ukraine’s capital city.

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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.


Essential Kyiv listings
Car Rental
Bars & Pubs
Catering Services
Courier Services
Foreign Banks
Hotel Service
Internet Cafes
Lost & Found
Medical Care
Language Courses
Souvenir Shops
Travel Agencies
Real Estate
Cable & Satellite TV
Fitness Centers
Flowers and Gifts delivery
Food Delivery
Freight Forwarders
Internet providers
Translation Services
Veterinarian Clinics
Beauty Salons
Whatson Birdies Party