|On the cover|
Tunnelling Towards Hope
|28 February - 6 March 2014|
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.
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.
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.
|Just a Minute|
Provocations & Observations (#4)
There’s been a lot of talk about the possibility of civil war in Ukraine, and many are clearly inclined to compare what’s happening here to what’s happening in Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, and other places around the world. But this is not that. This is not two opposing political or religious factions fighting each other. To a large extent this isn’t even an argument for democracy over authoritarianism or vice versa. This is virtually the complete informed population of a country fighting against a gang of thieves.
All that said, something has to happen quickly, because while all this is going on, the country’s economy is getting flushed down the toilet. The mid-rate for the hryvnia on the day of writing is sitting at 8.65 to the dollar, according to xe.com, and on 1 November last year before all this started it was 8.17. That’s a drop of more than 5.5% in two months.
Now we all knew the currency was being propped up and there had to be a devaluation at some point, but that’s a lot in a short space of time, and chances are the currency will keep falling uncontrolled. That’s not good for business.
Of course, the country is more or less closed to inward investment as no one in their right mind would invest in a country on the verge of civil war, where the rule of law is nonexistent, and where, if you were stupid enough to do so and lucky enough to be successful, someone could come and take the fruits of your labour any time they felt like it.
Even many of those already here are looking for an exit strategy, businesspeople flying in and out of the country have all but dried up, and the whole economy in general seems to be grinding to a painful halt.
Now some of you might be thinking that this is not the right time to complain about the business environment, but regardless of what political shenanigans are going on, business remains ultimately important because it is that which employs people and pays their salaries so they can live.
We know those in power have no conscience. We know they’ve stolen huge amounts from the Ukrainian people, and will continue to do so as long as they remain in control. We know they care nothing for the people. But still, it seems unfathomable to any decent person that such a gang is capable of taking a country to the edge of the abyss and happy to push it over the side.
That can’t be allowed to happen, and it is time for a more concerted effort – from the west, the opposition, and the protestors – to bring this to a positive end quickly, before the country is completely ruined.
Kyiv Top Five
With the weather gods playing with our thermometers here in Kyiv, promising above zero temperatures this week (up to +3C), our coldest day of the year so far, 30 January with a temperature of -23, seems like an almost distant memory. Grateful for this sudden respite, other international locales have been facing much, much worse in recent weeks. Not a fan of the cold? We suggest you stay away from these iceboxes (temperatures as of 4 February):
1. Yakutsk, Russia takes the top spot with -46C
2. South Pole, Antarctica is a balmy -39C
3. Shepard Bay, Nunavut are laughing at -35C
4. Regina, Saskatchewan are in their summer gear at -32C
5. Astana, Kazakhstan stays steady at -30C
Back to work, love in conflict, secrets and lies, and motivation. Again EuroMaidan dominates the birdsong on Twitter in our tweets of the week.
What for? Talk.ee Politics (@TalkeePolitics):
Ukraine leader to end sick leave. Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych will return to work on Monday.
Jaymie Arcilla (@Jmuzic) comments on what has become routine in Kyiv:
Ukraine protests: Demonstrator proposes to girlfriend while wearing a helmet, balaclava and bullet-proof jacket
East of Brussels (@EastOfBrussels) tweets the propaganda:
Ukraine: police claim: man from #Georgia arrested, responsible for burning #Euromaidan cars - on instruction of opposition
Nadia (@nadiagulevich) speaks about priorities:
A Ukrainian man needs two months to put a shelf up in the bathroom and only two hours to make a barricade #euromaidan
As EuroMaidan enters its third month, the number of those hitting the streets particularly at the Sunday rallies may have dwindled, but the resolve for change is undiminished. Die-hard protesters are keeping the flames of resistance burning. Faced with violence, kidnapping, and other measures more akin with World War II-era Europe, Ukrainians have shown courage, unity, and bravery and continue to do so. We salute that
Separating fact from fiction has become increasingly difficult as the standoff that is EuroMaidan becomes more and more entrenched. Where once rumour-mongering in a time of conflict was confined to leaflet drops and radio broadcasts, the digital age means information or, more correctly, “disinformation” can spread literally like wildfire. Now life in Kyiv and Ukraine means taking everything you see and hear with a grain of salt.
A survey at school was conducted among students in the Soviet UNI0N. One of the questions required a classification of citizens using any criterion desired.
Little Ivan, son of a KGB officer, answered:
There are three categories of Soviet people, namely,
1) those who have already been to prison
2) those who are now in prison, and
3) those who will be in prison
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Provocations & Observations (#7)
Provocations & Observations (#6)
Provocations & Observations (#5)
Provocations & Observations (#3)
Provocations & Observations (#2)
|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|
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.