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Ļ7 (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 EuroMaidanís three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countryís 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 Ė 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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Ukrainian Culture

Life As It Is

Deciding to share my own ďbribe-givingĒ experience and some stories recounted in previous times, I came to the conclusion that bribes are rooted in Ukrainian ethnicity, and have unfortunately become an endemic part of our culture. This year promises to be a foreigner-plenteous year, as thanks to Euro 2012 there will be floods of visitors pouring into Ukraine to get to know our country better, and of course, see some matches. Unfortunately for them, they will have to come into contact with various public and private services Ė thatís where the real fun begins!

Those who have already spent some time in the country know perfectly well what it means to ďtalkĒ to a police officer or settle issues with ZHEK. However, for a newcomer, it could turn into a real headache unless he knows what ďto express your gratitudeĒ means. In other words, today we are going to talk about how much a ďfavourĒ may cost or, put simply, a bribe. According to the statistics provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ukrainian officials received approximately 12 million hryvnia in 2011, with average bribes totalling 177 thousand hryvnia per official. So, do the maths people and see how much itís going to cost if you want to change the law to the way you would like it to be, or simply to get things done.

The Police
Ukrainian old-timers can tell you long stories about the communication theyíve had with police or DAI officers. Most often, there is one and only one reason why you are stopped by a police officer Ė although you havenít even thought of doing anything wrong. You might want to protect them, saying that their job is harder and more dangerous than yours, or that they are underpaid considering their responsibilities, but the truth is that those young boys who are entering police academies know perfectly well that if they are given power, they can later use it for their own benefit. So, the next time you are stopped by the police because they saw you, as they say, making a prohibited turn or speeding, or simply because you look suspicious Ė keep in mind there is a great chance they simply want a small contribution to their budget. 
The sum varies depending on how much cash you have with you. How would they know? Well, usually they will ask you to show them your wallet, saying that you might have some drugs hidden somewhere in the pockets. If they donít ask you to do that, then 50-100hrv should be enough for them to satisfy their curiosity towards your persona. Keep in mind a couple of handy rules: take your passport with you, donít carry a lot of cash, donít put drugs in your wallet and finally, when the conversation takes too long, tell them you are calling your lawyer. And then give the person on the other side of the phone their name Ė that should scare them!  

The Doctor
The next story is less dramatic as it touches on the topic of health practitioners. There is an old tradition of bringing something to your doctor Ė medical workers donít really like to accept money thinking that itís a bribe, so their patients usually decide on sweets, candies, cookies, coffee or tea. Unfortunately, though a box of sweets looks nice and seems like an innocent present, some health practitioners actually prefer cash, especially if you need to undergo a serious operation. In this case, the sums are counted in the thousands, as people donít really think about money when their health and life are on the scales.    

The Teacher
Every holiday in the calendar is a sort of teacherís day, because if your teacher doesnít get her present then your marks might suddenly drop. So, itís flowers and sweets on 1 September, a bottle of expensive booze for Teachersí Day, something really pricey for winter holidays, etc Ė and thatís just a short list you may want to hand out. And what about exams? If youíre not sure that you or your offspring will pass, or if you want to be sure that he or she finishes school or university with a red diploma, then youíd better think about the sum beforehand. On the other hand, if your child is a smart one there should be no worries, as our educational system is not the most corrupt, fortunately!

The ZHEK
Poor are those who have had to visit ZHEK at least once. To start solving your problem, youíll need to first find the one responsible for your issue Ė thatís going to be your hardest task! A box of chocolate could help you a lot, and if used properly youíll be sent to the appropriate official. Itís not a problem if they donít speak English or you donít speak Russian or Ukrainian, because even Ukrainians donít really understand what these officials are talking about, until the promise of gratuity is voiced. After that, there is no problem in solving all the issues you have and everything is done quickly and properly. But, donít forget that you promised to thank them afterwards and that will require a bottle of spirits, sweets coffee/tea or even something more expensive.

The Plumber/Electrician
Imagine you get up in the morning and see your apartment flooded. Or you are trying to turn on the lights and nothing happens. Thatís something you have to be ready for if you are considering coming to Kyiv and spending any time here. Unless you have a diploma in plumbing or the electrical spheres, you will have to call ZHEK and tell them about the problem you are experiencing. If you are not an exceptionally lucky person, youíll have your saviour arriving, in a couple of hours of course, to tell you that there is a lot of work to be done and that itís better to start tomorrow. So, check your alcohol supplies, if thereís refreshment strong enough to convince the worker to stay and tighten some bolts, youíll have everything magically done the same day! On the negative side, the plumber may pass out drunk in your bathroom.

The Lawyer/Court
If you run into serious problems in Ukraine, be sure that itís not the end of the world Ė if you are ready to spend some money resolving them. You will be told many times that itís not acceptable. And then, finally, you will be given a specific price to pay or rather, a bribe, for your freedom. If the sum doesnít knock you out, you will definitely get away with the crime committed. Of course, everything will be done strictly confidentially!

The Businessman/Football Club Owner
As we started with a Euro 2012 topic, we couldnít skip the subject matter of business involvement in organising this huge sporting event. Can you imagine how many people are interested in representing their brands at the event and how many club owners want to see their partners, along with the winning team holding the trophy? For them, Ukraine is a country of opportunities where everythingís possible. Itís not a secret that sums in sport are huge, so you can imagine the sky-high figures for bribery in this area!

The High-ranking Official/Politician
People who are in charge of the country have always been a target for suborners. High-ranking officials and politicians can turn any case in your favour by making just one call, but these extra services they provide will come at a high price. Considering that official salaries of Ukrainian peopleís servants are estimated in thousands of dollars Ė many times higher than an ordinary Ukrainian can expect Ė a bribe in this case might start at 10 thousand dollars! The corrupt officials would be insulted to be offered less. So, no matter what network youíre on (and we all know how expensive calling different networks can be), this will be the most expensive call you ever make.  

 Vadym Mishkoriz

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Read also:
  • When Walls Can Talk
  • Rights We Didnít Know We Had
  • The Path to Europe Begins Here...
  • Documenting Life
  • Head into 2014 Healthy

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnít 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 Univer≠sal 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 donít understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street Ė the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades Ė childrenís 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. Whatís 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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