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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.


Kyiv Culture

The Pain of Ukraine?

The press, both foreign and local, love to rag on Ukraine, its true; especially with EURO 2012 fast approaching. Does it affect the way people really view the country? Or is it just half-hearted scaremongering-for-the-sake-of-headlines?
Id been going to England home games for a good while and in the run-up to the last World Cup decided to step things up and follow the team to South Africa.

It was around this time two years ago an article appeared in The Sun carrying dire warnings of perils and menaces lying in store in the host African nation. Of particular note, was a charming denizen going by the name of The Captain who declared, while taking hits of crystal meth, Ive been shot four times...been in prison for attempted murder and armed robbery. The only thing that means anything to me is meth. Lovely chap and not alone either in his country with a record of 50 murders, with 50 more attempted, every day; even months before The Daily Telegraph had warned that England fans were certain to be killed in South Africa. Notwithstanding this, I along with around 20,000 other England fans headed over to find that the greatest dangers awaiting us were dodgy goalkeeping and a blind Uruguayan referee. 
As Euro 2012 approaches, Ive now been living in Ukraine for over a year and feel I know the country at least to some degree, so was very interested as to what line the British media would take with my new(ish) homeland. And I must say that as coverage has got underway, Ive been a bit surprised at the stick Ukraine has been getting! A recent article in the Daily Mirror was entitled EURO 2012 Hooligan Warning for England Fans and began with: England fans travelling to Ukraine for EURO 2012 have been warned they will be heading into a cauldron of neo-Nazi violence. It told of a Kyiv where football fans get stamped to death to the tune of Nazi refrains from perpetrators. Not very nice at all. An article in the Daily Mail took up the theme with its headline of No England Euros Invasion as Ukraine Base Drives Fans Away. 
Granted both articles cite price and lack of accommodation plus ticket prices and transport as being contributing factors to the supposed stay-away of England fans, but I hardly recall South Africa offering wallet-friendly digs. In fact, I put through an order for a complete set of England tickets the other day, which came out at less than 300 Euros (cheap seats but still not bad). Meanwhile The Sun has joined in with Race Hate Threat to England Fans, and while the BBC has taken a more modulated line, their journalists have still warned of bigotry and hooliganism facing fans who make the journey.  
Whats more surprising than anything, however, is to think of those hardened England fans who converged en masse in Cape Town supposedly now sitting somewhere back in Blighty knees knocking at the prospect of a trip to Ukraine! Prior to coming here, I remember imagining Ukraine as a country of beautiful women (see our own Face of Kyiv competition for further proof and yes, check) and a country as depicted in the film Everything Is Illuminated where people have a comical way with English and a lack of vegetarian dining options (actually, the level of English here is pretty good and vegetarians well catered for). I never really imagined Ukraine as dangerous in a violent kind of way and unless you really do go looking for it, would stick to this. Actually when I said this to someone once they said, Try Hydropark at night. Am happy to say I have and the worst that happened is that nothing interesting happened.  
So, the coverage in the British press is a shame if it were really to keep the English fans from coming. However, I dont see this happening. If a scarily-tattooed, machete-wielding maniac threatening to knife fans up cant put them off then this kind of half-hearted scaremongering-for-the-sake-of-headlines wont either. As for racism, well, its true, at least from my experience of Dynamo, that the fans can be racist, which is unedifying in the extreme, but sadly true of football fans in many countries. And neo-Nazism? Im sure its there if you go looking for it but ditto for many countries as well. Ok, Ukraines boys in blue and yellow are pitted against the Three Lions, but walk up and down Khreshchatyk on an average summers afternoon and youll likely see more English tops being sported than Ukrainian. Actually the idea of even talking to an English person, or native speaker, is one many Ukrainians find highly appealing for the prospect of practicing their English. Ive known many such native speakers who have been bought more than one beer on this basis. As for the t word, transport, around Ukraine, well it may not be most premium (to quote Everything Is Illuminated) but by gosh is it cheap.    
So, to paraphrase the words of the great Alan Partridge in welcoming potential England fans to Ukraine (or anyone else for that matter), Come to Ukraine youll either be charged a very reasonable rate for public transport, meet some Ukrainians who may well want to have their picture taken with you or over-appreciated simply because you have English as a first language. 

Little-known UEFA Facts:
This is the 14th European Championship and the prestigious trophy has been won by nine different teams so far
The Soviet UNI0N finished runner-up in the 1988 tournament
There has been no 3rd place match since 1980 England finished 3rd in 1968, their best result in the tournament
The last time England lost a fixture on away soil, not including the World Cup was against Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk!

Graham Phillips

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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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