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7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ukraine Today

The National Museum of Ukrainian History

Ukrainian history is probably the most interesting, colourful (not to mention bloody), and (according to recent findings) oldest in the world. The country has gone through so many changes of rulers and occupiers that its hard to keep track, but the National Museum of Ukrainian History has everything you will ever want to know. Tucked away off Volodymyrska near Andriivsky Church, this place is one of Kyivs best kept secrets and is worth a visit even if it is just to see its wonderful model of how the city looked in the times of Rus.


The National Museum of Ukrainian History is the definitive place to get the lowdown on nearly 9,000 years of Ukrainian history starting way back around 7,000 BC with the Trypillya civilization and leading through the Greek occupations, the Kyiv Rus period, the Cossack era, Soviet rule and finally independence and the Orange Revolution. While wandering through the museums exhibits you cant help but feel that despite Russian, Polish or Austro-Hungarian rule Ukraine has always been a nation with its own unique culture and traditions. The museum started out way back in 1899 with archaeological and art exhibits, and the current building was constructed by the outstanding Soviet architect Iosif Karakis in 1937-1939. Nowadays the museum, headed by General Director Sergiy Tchaikovsky who began working here as a guide back in the 1960s, is regarded as the leading and most attended museum in Ukraine due to its great historical collection numbering more than 800,000 exhibits. The history of the museum in some ways mirrors the history of the country in that those in power influenced the content to a large extent. Unfortunately, a lot of the original exhibits were lost during WWII. Some were evacuated to Ufa, Russia, before the invading German Army arrived, but a lot were removed by the Nazis during the occupation of 1941-1943 many of which have never been returned. After WWII the museum was hijacked by the Soviet regime who forced exhibits on it promoting communist ideology and dictating their own version of history. Thus up to Gorbachovs perestroyka policy such major disasters in Ukraines history such as the Holodomor engineeered famine of 1932-1933 and other Stalinist atrocities could not be documented in the museum.
The museum took its current name when Ukraine won its independence larger than Babylon, the Sumerian capital. This ancient developed civilisation numbered about 2,000 settlements and existed for between 2,500 and 2,700 years. It is thought to have disappeared due to changing economic circumstances and assimilation with other developing peoples.
Another fine display is that of the ancient Greek settlements on the Northern Prychornomorya (Black Sea Coast) dating back to the 8th and 9th Centuries BC. The Greek colonization is often how this period is known, but it turns out this name is something of a misnomer since the most likely motivation for the migration to the area was a demographic burst which forced the Greeks to search out new territories and was not about conquest at all. The great Kyiv Rus existed from around 880 AD through to the middle of the 12th Century, and it is this exhibition that attracts the most visitors as shows how the great Slavic people originated and is regarded as the predecessor of the three modern East Slavic nations Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. For some time, specifically during the Rule of Yaroslav the Wise, Kyiv Rus was the most powerful state in Europe. It is in this display that the museums best single exhibit resides a wonderful model of how Kyiv looked during this time which makes a trip to the museum worthwhile all on its own. The Cossack era exhibition tells of the origins, development, lifestyle and history of one of the most feared military forces of all time which was hired by many European countries such as Sweden, Poland and France and played a significant role in Ukraines early attempts at independence. Here you can learn all about the Zaporozhya Cossacks, see the Hetman attributes of power, original Cossack musical instruments, a portrait of the first Ukrainian Hetman Bayda Vyshnevetsky and even Bohdan Khmelnytskys very own hat.
Second only to the Kyiv Rus exhibit is of course the one devoted to the Soviet era which, at last comes clean about the crimes against the Ukrainian committed by the Soviet authorities including the 1932- 1933 Holodomor genocide where it is said as many as 10 million Ukrainians died. Modern Ukraine is also well documented in the museum with a collection of election material from all the political parties and a fantastic photo archive covering the Orange Revolution street protests of 2004. During the last ten years there has been more politicking in Ukraine than in any other period in the countrys history. The museum does not support any political side but provides people with an objective view allowing them to come to their own conclusions, says Larysa Nesteruk, the Scientific Secretary of the National Museum of Ukrainian History. Further exhibitions at the museum include a colourful display dedicated to the life of Serge Lifar, a Ukrainian ballet dancer and choreographer, a numismatic collection detailing the history of Ukrainian money, and collections of weapons, jewellery, art and ancient books. There is so much to see and learn at the museum that it probably takes a view visits to take it all in, but with such a wealth of information and stunning artifacts on display this is a must-visit place for anyone in Kyiv visitor or resident. Whats On thoroughly recommends a trip to the place, and make sure you take some sandwiches and thermos of tea as we guarantee once you get there, it will be some time before you can drag yourself away.

Yulia Samus


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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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