|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 (#6)
It’s not good to be speechless when writing a column, but that is how I am feeling right now. As I write this on the morning of Wednesday 19 February, looking back over the past 24 hours, there’s not much I can say that wouldn’t be repeating what everyone else has been saying – shock and horror.
The roof was taken, with the Berkut withdrawing inside the building. The protestors kept up the pressure, and finally two of the Berkut appeared back on the roof and surrendered their weapons. A victory.
It was difficult to feel positive, as the Berkut barricades on the side streets leading to the Verkhovna Rada were in fire, and the street was getting torn up to use as missiles to throw through the flames. It was gruesome, and yet there was optimism in the air.
The second time we went there was around 3.00pm. There were less people there then. Apparently, although we didn’t know it at the time, there was a big battle going on in Mariinskiy Park, and that was probably keeping most of the protestors occupied. But the fires at the barricades were still burning, and missiles were still being thrown.
Luckily, we came back to the office, because an hour later the Berkut were advancing on Maidan down Institutska and from European Square in huge numbers. Optimism turned to fear.
The opening of the barricades on Hrusheskoho on Sunday as part of the apparently EU brokered deal on amnesty (which many including myself considered a huge mistake) had backfired, and those openings were allowing the Berkut to flow through unhindered.
Within an hour Maidan was in flames, and all those who had continued to think they could negotiate with Yanukovych were proven wrong. Most of the country sat glued to their TVs all night, watching events unfold with horror. At 8.00pm the riot police pushed forward, but a wall of burning tires and the bravery of the men on Maidan held them back. They tried to storm this new barricade with an APC, but as soon as it was within range it was showered by Molotov cocktails. Stand off. Once again.
This morning Kyivites awoke to black smoke billowing into the air, 25 dead and thousands injured.
I hope now, at last, the EU and the US finally understand that you cannot negotiate with a thug like Yanukovych. Your negotiations only made a difficult situation worse. The Ukrainian people, and the ex-pats, do not want to hear one more deeply concerned statement. You are impotent by choice. Please, just be quiet.
Kyiv Top Five
It’s Men’s Day here in Kyiv this week – 23 February, which evolved from Day of the Soviet Army (a territory no longer Soviet, we’d like to add). In the past, women were on the ball about what to gift the men in their lives: portyanky, or foot bindings used as socks, and not at all comfortable. Shaving related phenomenon were also a favourite gift. But what about today?
1. Shower gel or shaving cream – still ranks up there at number one. In recent years, this traditional gift has been seen as a bit of an insult taken to mean the received doesn’t smell so pretty.
2. Socks – also pretty big. Though, socks are typically appreciated as a gift as it canbe somewhat of an issue to find a pair after rolling out of bed.
3. Nothing – another lovely gift many women decide on.
4. Lingerie – this gift is bought by only the most clever of women.
5. Cologne – also a good gift. Just make sure it’s a scent we actually like.
Occupation over, barricades dismantled, the way forward...or backward. EuroMaidan developments dominate talk of Ukraine on Twitter in our tweets of the week.
After three months the occupation is over notes Paula Chertok (@PaulaChertok):
#Ukraine Protesters End #Kyiv City Hall Occupation—but hang around, just in case.
Ukrainian Updates (@Ukroblogger) watches the barricades come down:
That awkward moment when you’re watching a bulldozer work its way thru #Hrushevskoho barricades #Ukraine #Euromaidan
Steven Pifer (@steven_pifer) looks ahead:
Unless genuine political process gets underway, tensions on streets of Kyiv and other cities in #Ukraine likely to rise again.
And things remain tense according to Bruce Springnote (@BSpringnote):
Several #euromaidan self defense groups threaten to return to Kiev City Hall. Asking what was the lasy 89 days about? Nothing has changed.
Revolution on Canvas
Among the countless photographs of EuroMaidan snapped during the past three months, and shared digitally across various platforms, there are some types capturing the unique sights in a more old school way – with oils on canvas. Sure you can’t tweet them but somehow that makes them all the more romantic.
They used to be of use, with lives depending on them during the wars. However, the march of technology has made the pigeon all but obsolete. Now they are known by most people as rats with wings, sky rats, gutter birds and flying ashtrays, and when they start hitching lifts on Kyiv’s already crowded public transport system they are getting a little too close for comfort.
Stalin is dead and things have begun to lighten up a bit, relatively speaking. An older woman is about to begin preparing dinner for she and her husband in their apartment in Kyiv and send him down to buy some meat. After queuing for the obligatory three hours, he gets to the counter and the there woman says, “No more meat, the meat is finished.”
He cracks and starts raving: “I fought in the Revolution, I fought for Lenin in the First World War and for Stalin in the Second World War and we are still in this shit?”
One of the leather-jacketed brigade takes him to one side and says, “Look old man, you know you can’t talk like this. Just think, a few years ago you would have been shot for saying these things.”
The old man trudges home. His wife seeing him empty-handed asks, “Run out of meat again have they?”
He says, “It’s worse than that, they’ve run out of bullets.”
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Provocations & Observations (#7)
Provocations & Observations (#5)
Provocations & Observations (#4)
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.