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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 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.


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.


Ukraine History

The Colourful Ukrainian Trickster Who Provided Inspiration for James Bond

This week sees the release of the latest James bond epic, Casino Royale. What most people dont know is that the man widely regarded as the inspiration behind James Bond was himself Ukrainian!

The man Bond author Ian Fleming credited with inspiring him to write the 007 series was masterspy Sidney Reilly, the man who came to be known as the Ace of Spies. Reilly is widely regarded as Britains most elusive and effective operative in the early years of the twentieth century, and tales of his adventures are said to have inspired Ian Fleming to begin his James Bond novels. Reillys scams and schemes are famous for their sheer audacity, and, like Bond, his successes changed the geopolitical position in Britains favour on a number of occasions. Reilly was actually born near Odessa in March 1874 and named Georgi Rosenblum. This future spy was precocious to say the least, learning languages with apparent ease. His early life centred on espionage, and was arrested and imprisoned as a young man for attempting to act as message courier for the Friends of Enlightenment movement, an early Marxist organisation.

 The real turning point came for this Odessa scam merchant and confidence trickster when his mother died, only for his uncle to reveal to him that he was in fact the result of an adulterous affair between his mother and a Jewish doctor. The future Ace of Spies, who was as anti-semetic as most of the population within the Russian Empire, fled the country in disgrace, stowing away on a British ship bound for South America, where Rosenblum took a job as a cook for a British mission, masquerading as a local named Pedro. He heroically saved the groups lives during a harrowing attack from a native tribe, and for this act of bravery the young Rosenblum was awarded 1,500 pounds sterling from a resident British Agent in South America who quickly learned the truth of Rosenblums identity and arranged for him to be furnished with a British passport and taken to London. Thus this Odessa native entered the world of international espionage at a time when the British Empire was approaching the zenith of its power.

 Reilly was an arch-pragmatist and chose his new Anglo-Irish name for typically practical reasons, explaining, In Europe, only the British hate the Irish, whereas everybody hates the Jews. He was undoubtedly an unscrupulous man, although contemporaries did treat him with respect due to his audacious exploits and steely nerve. Reilly lived the kind of fast life that has become the stuff of legend, and his name has passed into the common vocabulary. While people still say, In like Flynn in homage to the womanising of movie-star Errol Flynn, the life of Reilly is another popular phrase to have entered the general consciousness through the exploits of one remarkable individual. This extraordinary life included an addiction to gambling, a record of serial bigamy to a number of well-heeled ladies, and a string of false identities. Among his many achievements Reilly is credited with acquiring and passing on vital Russian defense documents in 1904 which proved central to the Japanese victory over Russia in 1905, a win desirable in London due to the recent Anglo-Japanese treaty of 1902 which envisaged the Japanese as the dominant power in the Far East protecting British naval and colonial interests in the region. Other Reilly coups are no less spectacular: during WWI he actually managed to impersonate a German officer and sit in on a meeting of the German High Command, while in 1918 he came a hairs breadth from unseating Lenin in a failed Kremlin coup. On this occasion he escaped the Bolsheviks by posing as a German art dealer and slipping out of the country. On another occasion in a scene that could have been lifted in its entirety from a Bond movie, he managed to persuade the Persians to grant wide-ranging oil concessions after bluffing his way onto the Rothchilds yacht disguised as a priest.

 Bond creator Ian Fleming first came across the Reilly legend during World War Two, when he worked as an intelligence officer in the Royal Navy. One of his colleagues, Robert Bruce Lockhart, had worked with Reilly undercover in Russia during the civil war and often regaled Fleming with tall tales of fantastic exploits. The author would be inspired to create James Bond as a result, although he later played down the comparison, saying, James Bond is just a piece of nonsense I dreamed up. Hes not Sidney Reilly, you know! Superspy Reillys life came to an end in Moscow in 1925 when he was executed on Stalins orders. For years rumours persisted that this master of disguise had slipped the net and was still alive, or that he had simply defected back to his native land, but recently evidence has come to light which would appear to confirm that he was indeed shot on the Soviet dictators orders to avoid a diplomatic wrangle once it emerged that the British were aware of his presence in Soviet custody. Ironically, Reilly had been duped by Soviet agents into returning to the Soviet UNI0N believing that he was in contact with anti-Bolshevik forces. The great confidence trickster himself fell foul to his own favoured modus operandi, and paid with his life.

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Read also:
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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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