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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 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

Behind Bars Or Worse!

The unbearably loud court cases taking place in Ukraine at the moment, which involve both Lutsenko and Tymoshenko, are shaking up the entire international community. Even with our windows closed, locked and boarded shut, there is no escaping the awful racket that occurs down below. A barbaric and unjust system of justice once controlled the people of this land, and it would seem fair to say there has been little done to change it today. Which got us thinking, which other Ukrainians other than Tymoshenko and Lutsenko have spent time behind bars for political reasons?

Demyan Mnohohrishny(1631-1703) 
As one of the first Ukrainian political prisoners thrown in jail by Moscows tsar in 1672, Mnohohrishny appeared on the Ukrainian political map during a time of civil war. Coming from a simple peasant family, he was one of many to take part in the Khmelnystky-led national liberation struggle. He was well respected not only in military but political affairs and soon assumed the post of colonel in the Chernihiv region. Opposing the Andrusive Agreement which basically made Ukraine subordinate to Moscow and Poland, he was a major force in the rebellion of 1668 which aimed for independence. It was not successful, however, and as the strong-willed hetman was far too troublesome for Moscow, he was arrested and condemned to death. At the last minute, the tsar changed his mind and sentenced Mnohohrishny to a life sentence in Siberia. 

Petro Kalnyshevsky(1690-1803) 
Having spent 25 years of his life in jail, Kalnyshevsky was an important judge and later hetman in the Zaporizhka Sich. Receiving the highest honours from the Russian Empire for his bravery and courage during the Russian-Turkish War of 1768-74, he also supported a policy of free trade with other countries, which was obviously in direct contradiction to the colonisation plans of the Empire at the time. Liquidating the independent state as well as the Sich itself in 1775, Ekateryna II arrested the countrys last hetman just a year later, sending him to Solovky with the strictest prohibition against correspondence of any kind. Having spent so many years in solitude, his eyesight suffered turning him blind and he became reticent and somewhat undomesticated. Receiving a general pardon at the age of 111, he served out the last year of his life at a local monastery.

Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861) 
This eminent Ukrainian poet and artist is probably the most well known Ukrainian political prisoner. He was bought out of slavery by Russian intellectuals, and having studied at the St Petersburg Art Academy, Shevchenko came to Ukraine in 1893 to see his own people severely oppressed and miserable. Filled with rage and indignation, the poet poured his emotion into his writing. The Dream openly criticises emperors Petr I, Ekateryna II and Nikolai II, while his poem Testament candidly calls for rebellion. Becoming a member of the Kyrylo-Myphodievske Brotherhood, a secret political organisation, Shevchenko fell into disfavour with the current tsar, Nikolai II, and was arrested and sent to Orenburg with strict instructions against writing and drawing. The defiant poet was arrested again in 1850 and 1859, and was under watch by the secret police for the rest of his life. 

Mykhaylo Hrushevsky(1866-1934) 
Recognised as the first president of Ukraine, Hrushevsky was first and foremost a reputed historian, well versed in Ukrainian history. Spending much of his time in Ukraine as well as in big European cities such as Paris, Berlin, London and Vienna, he returned home in 1916, and accused of adherence to Austria, he was arrested. Thrown into the Lukyanivska Prison, massive protests in Kyiv, Petrograd and even abroad ensured his release. A year later, he became head of the Tsentralna Rada, the Ukrainian state institution which in 1918 proclaimed the country independent and sovereign. It existed for only 14 months, after which Hrushevsky was forced to go into hiding. Once Ukraine became a Soviet republic, the historian was called to come back and work. The problem was the new rulers remembered well the dangerous political views Hurshevsky held, and called for him to be under constant watch. In 1931, accused of heading and non-existent counter-revolutionary organisation, he was arrested again. Because of his failing health, however, he was soon released. He died just a few years later. 

Les Kurbas(1887-1937) 
Founder of the Ukrainian philosophical theatre, outstanding director, actor, dramatist and critic, Les Kurbas first worked in Kyiv with his own band of young and ambitious actors. Staging innovative dramas, they came to be known as the Molody Theatre which can be found today on Prorizna. Opening the Berezil Theatre in Kharkiv, new dramatic aesthetics featuring real problems found their reflection on stage. Such performances did not find approval from the party. Most specifically because Kurbas highlighted features of the individual, which was in huge contradiction to the idea that the system was of far more importance. For these indiscretions, Les Kurbas was sent to Solovky in 1933 and then shot in 1937. Today, Kurbas theatres can be found in both Kyiv and Lviv, in honour not only of his artistic achievements but his grossly realistic representation of the Soviet system. 

Mykhaylo Boychuk(1882-1937) 
As one of the most remarkable artists in this countrys history, Mykhaylo Boychuk received his education in Lviv, the art academies of Vienna and Krakow and later in Paris. Studying original masterpieces found in France and Italy, he worked on frescoes and facades and eventually came to realise that such items, specifically produced during the Byzantine and Kyiv Rus eras, were the pinnacle of beauty and perfection. His absence, and the fact that he was studying European art, was scrutinised by the party. It did not help his cause that a band of artists calling themselves Boychukistu were gaining momentum either. Returning to Ukraine in the early part of 1910, Boychuk was one of the founders of what is referred to today as monumental art, and continued to work on the restoration of ancient frescoes in different cathedrals around the country. Leaving the country once more on a trip with his wife Sofia Nelepynska from 1926-27, the party made a formal charge and claimed both he and his wife were spies guilty of counter-revolution activity. He was arrested nearly a decade later and shot a year after that. Sofia Nelepynska was convicted by association and executed the same year. 

Yosyp Slipyj(1892-1984) 
As a bishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and cardinal of the Catholic Church, Yosyp Slipyj was arrested numerous times for his Christian beliefs. Even in his youth, Slipyj demonstrated a real gift for religious studies and graduated top of his class from the Innsbruck College of Theology. Returning to Ukraine, he became head of the Lviv Theology Academy, founded and became editor of one of the first religious periodicals, supported numerous educational and cultural initiatives, and often promoted the Ukrainian language and culture. Once western Ukraine was taken over by the Soviets, however, his initiatives were seen as a serious threat to the system, and in 1945, along with all other Ukrainian Catholic priests, Slipyj was arrested and sent to Siberia. Sentenced to eight years of hard labour, he fulfilled his prison term and was condemned again in 1953, 1957 and1962 for refusing to renounce his religious views. Having spent a total of 18 years in exile in Siberian camps, he was released in 1963 due only to pressure from the Pope and then US President John F Kennedy.

Vasyl Stus(1938-1985) 
Publishing translations by Goethe and Rilke into Ukrainian in the early 60s, Stus also worked as a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature in the eastern regions. Meanwhile, his activities as a social activist were getting him in trouble. One such protest occurred at a Kyiv cinema where he along with a few others stood up and called on everyone present to condemn the massive arrests of Ukrainian intellectuals. It caused such uproar that he was kicked out of the Institute of Literature. But thats not all. His literary works and constant complaints to higher party institutions about the political repression in Ukraine led to his first arrest in 1972. Accused of anti-Soviet propaganda, he was sentenced to five years in prison and three years exile in Mahadan. One of the first things he did upon return in 1979 was officially refuse Soviet citizenship. This led to the second arrest. Protesting the physical torture he faced at the prison camp, he went on a hunger strike and died in 1985. 

Serhiy Paradzhanov(1924-1990)
Serhiy Paradzhanov was an outstanding Armenian and Ukrainian film director. His direction of the film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, written by Ukrainian novelist Kotsyubynsky, won 39 international awards and personal letters of congratulations from people like Fellini and Antonioni. Even famous Polish film director, Andrjez Wajda, fell on his knees in front of Paradzhanov thanking him for his masterpiece. Unfortunately, the fame and fortune he received did not save him from being chased by the Soviets. Protesting political persecution in the late 60s, Paradzhanov was finally arrested in 1973 for homosexuality and the promotion of Ukrainian nationalism. He was sentenced to five years in a prison camp. Due to a powerful international campaign that included Fellini, Godar, Viskonti and other respected film directors, however, Paradzhanov was released in 1977. Soviet spies were instructed to keep watch for the rest of his days until his death in 1990.

Vyacheslav Chornovil(1937-1999) 
As one of the last political prisoners of the Soviets, this literary critic, publicist, politician and activist of the movement against the Russification and discrimination of Ukrainians suffered persecution for years. Refused entry to the Kyiv Pedagogic Institute for his political views, he organised a national opposition movement in the 60s fighting the totalitarian regime the country was facing and the general violation of human rights. He was arrested in 1967 and sentenced to three years in prison camp. Upon his return home, he began an underground magazine which served as a good excuse for a second term in prison. Sentenced to six years in a labour camp and three years in exile, he was falsely accused of supporting the human rights organisation, the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, and was given another five years in prison. Even after these hard years in jail, he continued his active political life and worked as the editor of newspapers and magazines. He was leader of what was soon to become main opposition against President Leonid Kuchma when a mysterious car crash killed him. 

Kateryna Kyselyova

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Comments (3)
You are not authorized! Only registered and authorized users can add their comments!
nemtai | 19.10.2012 18:48

471YK9 qmemtsijrowz

Guayarmina | 16.10.2012 02:29

The UK should now stop heplnig Ukraine until they make improvements in the rule of law as requested yesterday by the EU. Both the UK and the EU should stop wasting tax payers money in Ukraine.

Lilian | 26.10.2011 08:21

I love reading these articles because they're short but ifnormiatve.

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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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