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¹7 (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 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.

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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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Opinion

Ukraine’s Future in Their Hands

Since the euphoria Orange Revolution in November 2004 when the people took control and won out over a corrupt system, Ukraine’s political situation has, sad to say, been less than stable. The big question now is, will this latest round of elections lead to a long running stable government, or will the country’s politicians continue to bicker like school children over their slice of the pie?
Who’s going to come out on top in the elections on Sunday? According to all the polls the Party of Regions will get the biggest percentage of the vote followed by Yulia Tymonshenko with Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense coming in third and the Communists following up the rear. And then there is the new kids on the Kuchma Bloc who many pollsters have put out in front in the most recent polls.


 But this is not a first-past-the-post system and who wins the biggest number of votes counts for little. The real question will be, after months of political turmoil, who will form a majority coalition and how quickly. More importantly, will it have the stability to last long enough to implement some policies? With GDP per capita trebling in the last 5 years, business in Ukraine is booming despite the political instability, and many pundits say it will continue to do so, but potential investors have to take stock of the political climate and many must be wary when the country doesn’t have a government. Despite this, business is doing well and and progress in Ukraine is plain to see especially in Kyiv where the streets are congested with big brand-spanking new cars, the overpriced cafes and restaurants are full of chicly dressed beautiful young things, and the number of designer boutiques opening in the city is reaching epidemic proportions.

 Business is one thing, the social sphere is something else altogehter. There is no doubt the people are doing well, or at least a proportion of them. The other side of the coin is that while there is definitely an emerging middle class in Ukraine (and an affluent one at that) many of the country’s citizens are not seeing the benefits. The sad truth is that many families live below the poverty line in dilapidated accommodation that drastically needs upgraded and barely have enough money to afford the bare essentials. The rising average wage is of course a good thing to see, but there is an imbalance in distribution and this combined with the importance everyone here places on status, prices are rising rapidly resulting in a widening gap between the haves and the have nots. The gap between private and public sector wages is also widening, and this means those who do the all-important jobs of keeping the streets clean, teaching the children and healing the sick are being left behind. While business may not need a government, these issues do, and they need a stable government that can remain in power for more than a few months. The list of social issues needing addressed such as employment, housing, subsidised utilities and centralised hot water, homelessness, public sector wages and health is long and each has its individual problems. The path ahead for the next government is a difficult one, and that government will need time, whomever it is.

 That is what is needed, but unfortunately it is unlikely the country’s politicians will grow up overnight and change their priorities from puerile self-advancement to considering what is best for the Ukrainian people and the country’s future. The most likely course of action for all parties after 30 September is, sadly, not for them to get their heads down and start addressing some of the problems the country faces, but to start moaning about being hard done by, jamming the Kyiv streets with armies of paid protestors and swamping the constitutional court with pointless actions. Ukraine potentially has a very bright future ahead, but paradoxically the ongoing political instability is hindering the country’s progress. The young people of this country deserve better. They deserve a government that has their best interests at heart, a government that will strive to create a fair and just society for them to live in and will look after those unable to look after themselves. Ukraine is rich in natural resources, and its people are creative and intelligent. There is no reason why this country and all its inhabitants cannot thrive. All that is lacking is the political will, and that will can come from the politicians alone. The future for the children of this country lies in their hands. Let’s hope this time round they rise to the challenge.

 Unfortunately it is unlikely the country’s politicians will grow up overnight and change their priorities from puerile selfadvancement to considering what is best for the Ukrainian people and the country’s future

Neil Campbell


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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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