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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

Maidan Travel Ltd. is Running Again

After causing widespread mayhem in April and May when President Yushchenko dissolved the parliament Party of Regions protestors returned to Kyiv last week much to the concern of many local citizens,


I n the run-up to the 30 September parliamentary elections, Party of Regions rallies are again featuring thousands of protesters who gather in front of the Rada building and in Mariy-insky Park, just as they did in the summer of 2006 and during the pro-government protests in spring. Kyivites have been quick to lampoon the familiar demonstrations as a street-level business: "Maidan Travel Ltd. is running again," goes the sarcastic comment heard from passersby. The Party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, decided in late August to join Parliament's controversial emergency session, openly challenging President Viktor Yushchenko. The president, who believes the coalition may use the session to try to cancel or postpone the election, said in a strongly-worded statement that these plans will fail. He directly blamed Yanukovych for the escalation. "According to the constitution, the Parliament of the fifth convocation has no authority," Yushchenko said in a televised address to the nation. "Any decision approved by this Parliament is illegitimate, and has neither practical force nor political effect."

The overall expense for the Party's organisers could run into a million dollars per day for every 10,000 demonstrators

Joining students and pensioners, political rally veteran Olex-andr Kuschenko, 34, and his friends organised a safety cordon around the protesters. Like many people, he was being paid to be there. These staged protests have allowed students and people from Ukraine's impoverished regions to earn what is in many cases four times their average monthly salary or stipend in a matter of days. The cost of orchestrating this cynical parody is hard to calculate with any precision, but based on what Kuschenko said, an approximate figure can be estimated. In general, participants have allegedly received 10-20 hrv per hour or 70-150 hrv a day, while a foreman who organises ten protesters could expect to be paid 150-250 hrv daily. An organiser of a 'sotnyk', or group of 100 protesters, could get up to 1000 hrv. This spring, protesters who lived in tents were rewarded with $30-50 per day, with warm meals and non-alcoholic drinks provided by the Party of Regions' sponsors, said Olexandr. So the overall expense for the Party's organisers could run into a million dollars per day for every 10,000 demonstrators. These contrived protests seem like an imitation of the 2004 Orange Revolution protests, but those familiar with Ukrainian culture will recognise that they have their roots in the Soviet UNI0N. Back in the communist era, the government often bussed in factory workers and other people who relied on the state's patronage to demonstrate in favour of one thing (the wisdom and glory of the Communist Party, for example) or against something else (NATO encroachment, maybe). One of the Orange Revolution's tensest moments came when thousands of hardhat-wearing miners and other workers from the Donbass got off busses and started marching in file toward Maidan. Despite the air of menace, violence was averted. According to the newspaper Ukraina Moloda the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) claims that a number of commercial firms have sponsored the Yanukovych supporters' current 'blue Maidan'. It reports that seven firms and nine banks were involved in cashing huge sums of money for the project. The SBU source said that the firms 'worked black', paying no taxes, and that the Party of Regions supporters were paid in cash. However, working as a protestor for the Party of Regions is no guarantee of getting paid. What's On spoke to a number of the demonstrators, including one young student who considers himself a professional protestor willing to work for whoever pays him, and many complained they regularly weren't paid for their 'work'.

 Another feature of the 2007 political rallies is the presence of alcohol. The Kyiv City Administration has imposed a ban on the sale of all alcohol in the area around the rallies. Yet Yanukovych rallies have featured large numbers of protesters drink- ing heavily, which works against the attempt recreate the positive atmosphere of the Orange Revolution protests. The Orange demonstrations passed off without any serious incidents and were noted for a lack of alcohol-related disorder despite the minus ten temperatures. Nor were downtown shops restricted from selling alcohol throughout the month-long protests. Problems posed by excessive drinking among today's government supporters, on the other hand, have meant that shops all over the city centre have had to close down their alcohol retail sections and that small cafes that traditionally sell shots of vodka and cognac have had to temporarily close up, much to the annoyance of Kyivites. In addition, the City Administration has gone a few million hrv over budget to clean up the demonstration sites. Anyway, Olexandr Kuschenko and his friends mentioned that ordinary people feel used by such rallies, but they are always ready to participate again for any political party despite the fact that sometimes they end up not getting paid.

Anatoli Artemenko


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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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