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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 EuroMaidan’s three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the country’s 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 Today

The Casting Couch

There’s a seedy-side to the process of job recruitment in the Ukrainian capital. From requests for full-length photos in swimsuits, topless or naked, through to sex with the boss as part of the job description – it appears young female applicants are expected to provide services that go beyond secretarial. What’s On investigates and sets a honey trap.

They are situations vacant where the employer is seeking to fill more than just the position. Ukrainian jobseeker websites are littered with listings for office positions that require the applicants to do more than answer the phone and file. Some of the advertisements barely conceal their intent and some have all the subtlety of a brick. From investment and finance companies to Internet portals, it seems the trading of sexual favours by a job hopeful – otherwise known as “casting couch syndrome” – operates freely in Kyiv. What’s more, the continuation of those favours once an applicant has been appointed seems to be essential to both keeping the job and advancing up the career ladder.
Like much pop culture, the casting couch or casting-couch syndrome traces its roots back to Hollywood. It was coined in Tinsel Town’s so called “Golden Age” of motion pictures and referred to the couches in offices used for sexual activity between casting directors or film producers and aspiring actresses or actors. In the West the practice, undoubtedly still exists, but covertly and with inherent risk should the law become involved. Not in Kyiv...

The Job Description
Simply type “intim” in Cyrillic into the search box on almost any Ukrainian job website and you’ll find them. “Intim” is shorthand for sex. One website job2.kiev.ua hosts some of the most blatant. “Secretary for intimate relations,” the heading reads, before detailing a salary of 3,000hrv for a woman aged 18 to 38, education is not required and the hours are subject to agreement. “The head of the company requires a personal secretary, for intimate relations, a slender girl with a pleasant appearance, without complexes.” To apply, all an applicant has to do is send a resume with “at least three pictures, preferably in a swimsuit”.
That advertisement is tame compared to the next, a female 18 to 30 wanted for: “Answering phone calls, record management, organisation and planning of the manager’s day, meetings, possible trips and an informal relationship with the manager (intimate).” To be considered for the position, a jobseeker simply has to send: “Resume with contact information and photos (in a suit and naked) close-up and in full view.” She also has to undergo a check-up with the company doctor at her own expense and provide her medical history. The ad concludes with a guarantee of “complete confidentiality”.
At jobsite.com.ua, a personal assistant is wanted for a company called MaksInvest. The salary is, surprisingly, listed as 10,000hrv, she must be aged 18 to 25 have a pleasant appearance, accompany the manager on travel, be unmarried and provide “other services”, and her photos must be topless. Yet another website vip-personal.com.ua goes even further. Its sole purpose is to recruit girls to fill vacancies where sex is part of the job. The website’s landing page is direct: “Save yourself the chore of searching resumes and determining applicant readiness for sex. Contact us, and very soon you’ll have a few resumes on the table. Just choose your favourite one, and we’ll assign you an interview with the girl.” Intrigued, we decide to apply for some of the positions listed.

The Honey Trap
The plan is simple, first a Gmail account is set up in the name of Olena Ivanova, she is, of course, fake. The next step is to construct her Curriculum Vitae. She’s a 23-year-old, stands 175cm, weighs 50kg and recently graduated from Kyiv Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Management and Marketing. She is looking for work in business and communications. She is computer literate and competent with programmes such as Linux, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, as a bonus she also has a typing speed of 85 words per minute. Then the clincher – her appearance – as an added carrot Olena has modelling experience working the catwalk at Ukrainian Fashion Week in 2011 and 2012. Persona created, it’s time to do a little casting of our own.
A colleague here at What’s On is up to the challenge, volunteering not only to play the role of Olena, but to send swimsuit photos to some of the jobs listed. She secures an interview from her second application, but then the ruse starts to unravel. Where the plan was to trap the potential “employer” somewhere public such as a caf?, record the interview and possibly confront him, he’s playing hardball. The employer is insisting the interview take place at his apartment – a potentially risky situation for our “Olena”. The pair exchange messages with each other, Olena makes various excuses as to why she would prefer the caf? option; she’s shy, nervous as this is her first ever job interview, maybe they can meet first and then go to his apartment? He is unwavering. His final SMS reads: “Have you changed your mind?” Olena’s reply is swift. “No, have you?” With that the communication ends, whether he found his ideal candidate remains a mystery but the turnover of these jobs across the various sites suggest these employers eventually find the right employee – or is that victim?

Sexretaries Wanted
Listings for the secretary willing to do the hard yards can be found here:
Someone for filing and fondling
Personal assistants wanted for mixing business with pleasure
The perfect secretaries needed to bring some bang to business
Persons wanted to add some heavy petting to the payroll
Pre-screened, primed, ready and willing workers

Jared Morgan

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Ukraine Truth
Rights We Didn’t 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 don’t 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 – children’s 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. What’s 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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