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On the cover
Ļ7 (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 EuroMaidanís three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countryís 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 Ė 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 Cars

Greased Lightning Without the Brylcreem

The Porsche 911 Carerra S is a status symbol. It is a dream car the people with low self-esteem believe will make their lives complete, the adequate think will make them more so, and the show offs want one to be able to do more showing off. Whether thatís a good thing or not is always down to individual thinking, but what is often forgotten behind all that is this car is built to drive, and it does that superbly.
Stepping into the car isnít easy because it sits so low to the ground, and for forty-somethings like myself, thatís going to mean an accompanying grunt every time you get in or out of the thing, which may not make you look so cool, but once youíre behind the wheel with the door closed that changes instantly. 

This may be a four-seater (even if thereís so little legroom in the back youíd need to be under 5 or severely anorexic to sit there), but once youíre nestled sweetly in the tan leather racing seats youíre going to feel like youíre behind the wheel of a Formula One  car.Adjust the seat and steering wheel to a true driverís position and youíre ready to hit the track, and thatís just what I intend to do: testing a Porsche to itís full potential just isnít going to be possible on the streets of Kyiv.
   Turn the key and the engine struggles to life with something of a roar as if youíre waking a sleeping monster, reverse out of the parking space, and lunge forward into slow-moving traffic.
   And thatís pretty much how it remains all the way out along Shevchenko Boulevard and Prospect Pobedy. Flighty and excitable, the car sits impatiently at a snailís pace, and behind the wheel Iím feeling pretty much the same. Itís ten in the morning and Iím heading out of town, which I thought would be against the flow of traffic and might give me some space to try out this stunning piece of German engineering, but the roads are clogged and my frustration builds.
   Eventually I arrive at Chaika Race Track and after following the owner round for a lap as he shows me the track, I come to a halt at the start of the straight. The car has a 5-speed automatic transmission, so I canít sit with my foot on the clutch and give it a couple of rowdy roars of the throttle, but just for my own amusement I put it in neutral and do it anyway. Then I put the car in drive and put the foot down.
   The car takes off like it got a fright and Iím pressed back in the seat by the acceleration. The straight at Chaika is only very short, but Iím already reaching 160km/h by the time I have to break for the first bend. From a standing start? Now thatís fast!
   Chaika racing circuit is small and filled with long tight bends. While that doesnít give you much of a chance to test the top speed, it makes for a whole lot of fun and roughly the same adrenalin rush an antelope must experience when getting chased down by a cheetah.

Pushing the Limits

I take a couple of laps fairly easy, getting used to the bends and testing some alternative lines through them, then I go for it. Coming through the easy bend onto the straight, carrying speed, the car leaps forward when I floor the accelerator. Thereís even a slight bend in the straight here, but nowhere near enough to make you lift off the gas, and I keep the accelerator down all the way. The 3.8 litre engine produces 355bhp and a top speed of 285km/h (177mph), and it pushes me to a faction short of 200km/h before I hit the breaking zone. Slamming on the breaks, the Porsche decelerates as well as it accelerates, and I turn into the first long bend with ease. Equipped with traction control and active suspension, the car handles like a dream, going exactly where you want it to and sticking to the road as it if were part of it. It takes every corner with ease, and doesnít once lose its way.
   After another couple of laps I start to really push, but thereís nothing I can do to shake this car off the tramlines it appears to be attached to. Even when itís pushed so far it has to give a little, thereís no front slide or twitching rear-end, it just slides a little before flipping you the bird and bedding down on the track once again.
Sports cars, in my opinion, should not be automatic, and this one doesnít have to be. Switching to manual I drive another few laps using the Tectronic gear change located on the steering wheel (yes! Just like in a Formula One car), and that ups the anti and exceeds any previous joy I was experiencing to almost orgasmic levels. For real driving enthusiasts, the active suspension can be switched off, giving all the control to the driver, but I canít find how to do that, and as itís not my car Iím quite happy to leave it on as it gives me that little bit extra confidence to push it a little harder still.

Back on the Streets

I could spend all day with this car on the track at Chaika, but all good things must come to an end, and itís time to test it in the idiosyncratic driving conditions of Kyivís street. This car is pure luxury, so comfort and entertainment are all piled in to the slight interior of this fantastic machine. The leather seats are the ultimate in comfort, and the 6-way CD and mp3 player and all the other onboard gadgetry offers hours of fun and entertainment. And thatís just as well, because as soon as I enter town I get stuck in another traffic jam.
   This car cruises with ease at any speed, and you can trundle along just as sweetly at 10km/h as you can at two hundred. The stiff sports suspension keeps the ride smooth and comfortable over Kyivís potholes and tramlines, but ground clearance is slight and so major protuberances have to be avoided. Mounting the pavement is impossible without a ramp, and even then you should definitely take it easy so as not to ground the car. Another associated downside to the low-slung nature of the car is that if you hit a pedestrian on the pavement they are simply going to flop onto the bonnet and it will be far more likely they cause more damage to the car than the car does to them.
   This teensy-weensy negative aside, this car is going to get you noticed. As I drive down Kreshchatyk there are young ladies taking photographs as I pass by. Of course, Iíd love to think it is my rugged good looks theyíre interested in, but I have to cast vanity aside and admit itís the sleek beauty of the car. I could have made a fortune taxiing because hands were flagging me down all over the place, and one young lady was staring at the car with such undisguised lust while I was at the traffic lights that for a moment I thought she was going to throw herself in the open passenger window.

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnít 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 Univer≠sal 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 donít understand the meaning of these words.

    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street Ė the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades Ė childrenís 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. Whatís 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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