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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 Travel

Travelling Without Borders

You have doubtless already planned, or even taken, your summer vacation, and your perfect package surely includes the seaside, a comfortable hotel with an all-inclusive programme no fuss, doesnt it? Yet there are those out there who travel in a completely different way. The Equites team is just such a group. Intentionally rejecting comfort and service, the reward they seek is something much more valuable.

The Equites team appeared 12 years ago as little more than a bunch of extreme-sports lovers. Equites members, however, do far more than just beat records and challenge themselves they have begun to change the whole attitude one has toward taking trips; transforming a relaxing time away into unforgettable adventures. Completely reconfiguring stereotypes about mans physical abilities, the Equites group has its own philosophy based on taking risks and yet, surviving. We talk to Serhiy Gruzdev of the Equites club here in Kyiv to find out more. 

When was the idea of the Equites team born?
It felt as if the idea had been flying about for ages. Firstly, the guys had all been so inspired by the famous Kusto team, and had dreamt of joining in whichever way they could. Honestly, they were ready to be stokers or even carpenters just for the chance to be on board this crew! Then the thought, why not organise a Ukrainian equivalent? just sort of popped into their heads, and they started working on that right away. The concept was to gather people who wanted to explore the unknown places of our planet and reveal their beauty to society. Moreover, the idea was to have the travellers challenge their physical abilities as well, with journalists immediately calling them extreme travellers due to this boundary pushing. 

What was the first big action to bring fame to Equites?
The first big action was in 2002, when three Equites members dived under the icy Dnipro from one ice hole to another! Leader of the team, Volodymyr Goltis Vuksta managed to dive the longest distance of 37 metres. It was a truly amazing achievement! Diving without any special equipment in water of 4 degrees Celsius seems almost impossible! Nevertheless, the extreme boys proved they could do it!

Generally speaking, a lot of what Equites does is quite dangerous isnt it?
Yes, it is, but thats why Equites never dice with death without the necessary precautions. More than that, we always do a full risk assessment before any exploit. Before the big dive in 2002, we had been training for six months. Equites do not do spontaneous tricks. What we really want to say to people is that, You are powerful, and with the necessary training, you too are capable of anything. Certainly, ones abilities are limitless. Thats what Equites demonstrates. 

Still, has there ever been a situation where you felt that there was a limit, or a border you couldnt cross? That the risk hadnt been estimated and calculated completely?
Of course, nature is unpredictable. Sometimes it can truly shock you with its surprises, and of course, Equites always choose the unknown for their trips. There was one trip where Goltis and another member, Ihor Portnoy, were cycling across Africa, whereby they experienced their own little adventure, which will forever be a lesson to them. While swimming in Limpopo, they saw a young hippopotamus lying not far away and so decided to take a closer look. They got so close, they were able to stroke it, and totally forgot about the possibility that mum may appear at any point. This is exactly what happened, and she was furious! Another dangerous situation also occurred in Africa, when the Equites happened upon a tribe of cannibals! Yes, hazardous situations happen all the time. Nevertheless, our guys have a guardian angel following them everywhere they go. 

One of the most well-known Equites adventures was the Columbus Quest of 2008-2009. Can you tell us a little about that?  
This is a perfect example of the bodys limitless abilities. Goltis, Andriy Suprun and Constantin Mohilnik set out across the Atlantic Ocean on board a yacht, without any food whatsoever. It took place during Lent, so the guys hadnt a crumb in their mouths for 40 days. The Canadian doctor with them had thought they were crazy at first, and was sceptical about the whole project. He was certain that he would be overseeing their deaths. Finding them safe and sound after 40 days of starving themselves, sailing the whole time, however, he was dumfounded. 

These days, many people call themselves travellers. What defines the Equites members as vocational travellers, as you put it. Can anyone gain this proficiency? 
First of all, one needs to be prepared. Equites members enjoy some pretty extreme sports and take 'out there' trips, so you should be ready for anything. You need to be very familiar with equipment of all sorts mountaineering, scuba diving, paragliding and thats just getting started! Members of our travelling team have consulted professionals in every sporting sphere there is to gain the necessary knowledge. More than that though, a vocational traveller is always ready to meet natures elements such as snowy peaks, sandy deserts, swampy jungles, as well as the deep, dark ocean floor without fear. Our members are ready for any obstacle, at any time. 

What if one of our readers wanted to join the Equites team what might be the first step? 
The most important thing is to know your own physical strength. We have had some people with us who were not in the best shape physically, but were able to balance that out with strong mental and spiritual power. But, you must understand and believe that your body is an instrument for exploring, and you must have the strength to deal with any situation. In addition, Equites follow the philosophy of an open heart. The spirit is powerful only if it is reasonable and wise; therefore there is no need to start competing with nature, because it will always be head and shoulders above you. One of the last things necessary to be one of the Equites is to have a love for the natural world. We are its guests, and must respect that. Honestly, among all of the entertainment technology has had a hand in, nature is the best. Travelling is not about transiting from car to airport to hotel. There is so much more worth exploring!

Yuliya Hudoshnyk

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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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