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On the cover
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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Whats Up?

Press Still Unfree, But Differently

More than three and a half years after the Orange Revolution supposedly ushered in an era of press freedom, is the media really better off than it was under the old authoritarian regime of President Leonid Kuchma? The answer seems to be both yes and no. On the one hand, here in Kyiv, journalists can be pretty sure that no thug is going to beat the stuffing out of them in their lobby when they come home at night, and the endless harassment media companies used to undergo in the old days the repeated visits by tax inspectors, for instance are no more.


Very few Kyiv journalists believe theyre going to end up in a ditch with their heads cut off, like Georgy Gongadze. On the other hand, the powers that be in this country have found a smoother way than violence to control the media: theyre simply purchasing media properties themselves and using them as private propaganda arms, or else paying huge sums to journalists and editors for favourable coverage or negative coverage of their rivals. So intense has been the elites spate of buying up media properties that estimates now are that 80 percent of the viewing audience is in the hands of the countrys political-business clans. You might object that in the West, the media is similarly controlled by the elite, but there there are other social pressures that try to restrict the elites from abusing their privileges. Here there are not.

A good example of whats going on these days is Channel 5. Back during the Orange Revolution, Channel 5 was lauded for being the only TV channel that (at first) was telling it like it is, in distinction to the outrageous Soviet-style lies the other channels promulgated. Channel 5 could do that because it was owned by Petro Poroshenko, one of Viktor Yushchenkos closest allies. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, Channel 5 is no longer the bastion of free speech some of us remember it as. Last year the stations host Ihor Slissarenko (a troubling figure in many way, but thats irrelevant here) was fired after he reported on one of Yushchenkos daughters tuition fees. Another host had also previously gotten the boot after delving into what Yushchenkos family was doing.

Then too, go out to Ukraines regions and youll find that intimidation of journalists is still occurring, far from the eyes of international observers. A report by the Institute of Mass Information and the Independent Media Trade UNI0N says that even though no journalists were killed in the last year, there were 22 cases of intimidation of media people, as compared with 15 in 2006. Thats a far cry from the outrageously bloody run-up to the Orange Revolution. But its not good.

So are things better now than in 2003? Is Yushchenko better than Kuchma? As so often in Ukraine, the answer is murky, and not as reassuring as we might like.


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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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