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¹7 (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.


Kyiv Culture

Star Plays Down Eurovision Scandal

Verka Serdyuchka has created a great deal of controversy with his/her catchy Eurovision entry ‘Dancing’, the lyrics of which have been the source of much discussion. A BBC journalist visiting Ukraine to interview the Eurovision favourite brought rumours that the song, in which can be heard the oft-repeated words ‘Russia Goodbye’ is about Vladimir Putin cutting off the gas to Ukraine last winter. Verka vehemently denies that these words appear in her song, but whether her protestations are genuine or tongue-in-cheek is anyone’s guess.

Verka herself was not present at the press-conference held on 22 March in Kyiv. Instead it was her alter-ego, comedian Andriy Danylko who fended questions about the song and its contents, saying: ‘We will not take legal action against the Blik Newspaper for publishing the wrong words to my song on their official website. I know why people do this. It is because they failed to stop me winning the Eurovision heat, so now they try to bring me down by inventing a quarrel with Russia.” He claimed that he was very upset upon hearing these rumours, and was indignant when declaring the words of the song are not ‘Russia. Goodbye,’ but are actually ‘Lasha tumbay’ which he maintains is Mongolian for whipped butter, but no such words could be found after an extensive search in a Mongolian dictionary. Calling Eurovision a ‘trade-fair of friendship’ Danylko sees it as a place of happiness and camaraderie where all people are friends. “Though if anyone wants to hear ‘Russia. Goodbye’ here they will hear it” the injured party explained. Speaking about his Eurovision prospects Andriy says he is not planning to win, but is just interested in seeing how it all goes. Serdyuchka is not making any special preparations for the contest. “We are not going to climb out of a piano or make any big show on the night. We are not even bothered about winning. All we want to do is get the audience dancing, and that’s it!” Andriy explains. “The main philosophy behind Verka Serdyuchka is to try and get people to understand that one does not live for dancing, but dances for life!” The video for the song is planned for 5 April and will be directed by Semyon Gorov, and although the content or the theme have not yet been determined, we are sure it will meet all expectations.

Andriy Danylko is very proud of Verka, calling her the ‘Ukrainian Cinderella’, who has lived the Ukrainian dream by starting out as a simple train conductor and ending up representing the country at Eurovision. “Everyone knows that Verka started out as a train guard, then became a singer, released a video, conquered Moscow and made it all the way to Eurovision,” her alter-ego says. “But people shouldn’t take it seriously. It’s just a show! Serduychka is a sad clown whose only aim in life it to entertain and amuse.” Andriy is also very proud to be representing Ukraine at Eurovision this year, and was keen to emphasise that he could have been doing so on behalf of Russia, Poland, or Kazakhstan, but he refused those offers and opted for Ukraine, even though the people here mock him and call him a transvestite. He denies such allegations saying that the genre he works in is called ‘travesty’ which comes from Itailian and means comic poetry performed in a burlesque manner by an outrageously costumed character. “People forget that Serduychka is played by a real human being who is already psychologically emancipated,” the forlorn comic complains. Comparing himself with a tightrope walker, he says he keeps his balance through his jokes, and he never tires of insisting that Verka is not a singer but a performer. We wouldn’t disagree with him there. As for the rest, when it comes to gauging the seriousness of the complaining and protestations of this comic character, we think it best to keep one’s tongue firmly in one’s cheek.

Anastasiya Skorina

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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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