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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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Kyiv Cars

For Kyivs Streets, Another Luxury SUV

The big luxury SUV has become one of the symbols of contemporary Kyiv the sort of automobile that, like the black Mercedes sedan at the turn of the century, you simply cant be without if you plan on being anybody in local society. (In fact, sometimes certain Kyiv sidewalks even resemble the parking lots of SUV dealerships.) One of the newest SUVs to hit town is the Lexus RX 400, a hybrid vehicle. Our guys took it out for a spin.
A hybrid in Kyiv? Thats right: a responsible sort of car (at least as far as SUVs go) for a car-loving city. And there it was, waiting for us: the big intimidating beauty that we were supposed to take out for a days worth of test-driving. We climbed into the cab and got ready to wail away.

This isnt a profoundly exciting machine its no Jaguar, or Porsche, or even a Lexus sedan. What it is, is a comfort-mobile, like all SUVs: a big, soft vehicle that makes you feel powerful, in control and safe. For most SUV drivers, performance, while important, is incidental to the feeling of being way up above traffic and in control of enough muscle to do your own thing, with no interference from the little guys. However, this is a Lexus, and even sitting in traffic in Podil, we got a sense of the cars silent, smooth power. Just a mere touch on the gas, and youre moving, the 3.3 litre V6 engine doing its quietly powerful thing. Waiting in afternoon traffic along the shore highway, we grooved along to music blasting out of the Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System, and checked out the interior. Again, nothing especially original, just standard luxury SUV surroundings, and theres nothing wrong with that. We took a look at the Electric Multi-Vision display system, which is to say a fairly large-sized screen that functions as the vehicles information centre. The colour touch-screen lets you control, and view, a bunch of systems including air-conditioning and audio, and there is satellite navigation. (Many systems can also be voice activated, for that special 2001: A Space Odyssey touch.) The rear screen is also where you watch the images provided by your handy rear parking camera, which came in handy when we heaved this big SUV up on the sidewalk on Sahaidachnovo to buy some tarts at the bakery. Between the tarts, the killer sound system and the silence that you get inside this Lexus, the traffic jam was bearable.
Among other cool perks, this car offers Bluetooth phone connectivity, which means that you dont have to use your cellphone as you drive anymore. Thats helpful, first because it might save your life or someone elses, and second because the police will supposedly start cracking down on cell-using drivers. The use of space in this Lexus, by the way, is ingenious. Little storage areas are tucked everywhere, making it a very well-designed little car. Heading out to the mountains this winter and need to shove all your skies in? Never fear, theyll slip right in. So will a mountain bike or two. Theres even a large concealed compartment providing additional storage under the luggage compartment floor.

Out on the Highway
Then we got out on the open road. What can we say? An SUV isnt going to hug the curves like a Formula One car, but the RX 400 was a much better performer than other similar vehicles with which weve been acquainted. Taking turns fairly fast, we found that there was comparably little drift, and you had almost none of that queasy feeling of maybe tipping over that you sometimes get in SUVs theres a nice low centre of gravity. You can feel the suspension hugging the road theres a cool feeling of floating around turns. And again, while this isnt a race car, it does accelerate effortlessly. Were not sure youll hit 100 kilometers per hour in under eight seconds, like you can with the similar but non-hybrid RX 350 model, but dont worry, youll be moving fast, and fast enough.
As for this being a hybrid, the twin electric motors of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system kicked in nicely once we got up to speed. We felt very virtuous given how few pollutants we were pumping into the air. As for this cars off-road capabilities, we only took a short drive on a dirt track, but were impressed by how well the E-FOUR four-wheel-drive system switched from two-wheel to four-wheel drive to adapt to conditions.
In all, this is another typical luxury SUV, which is to say, its comfortable and powerful. Exciting? Not especially. But driving in this city is exciting enough. At least youll hop the curb easily, which is always useful. And youll fit right in.
Some other notes we jotted down. First of all, both pedestrians and other drivers get out of your way fast when they see you coming in this car. Of course, theyd get out even faster were you driving a Hummer, so whatever. Second, one of us found the drivers seat a bit uncomfortable, especially the process of switching gears - he had to kind of twist up his arm. Third, the button controls to adjust the seat can be hard to reach. Fourth, the dashboard is wonderfully designed: everything is crisply and cleanly designed, so its a joy to use. Fifth, the rearview mirrors come combined with a significant blind spot, so get ready to turn your head. But the sum-up? This is a solid and respectable Kyiv car.

Alexey Karas and Mark Sabchuk

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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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