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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 History

An Island That Found Independence, Almost

Nowadays, the Zaporizhska Sich is more a symbolic part of our Ukrainian past than a place of foregone battles. It was an island on the Dnipro River which was, at one time, the centre of all cultural and military activity during the XVI century and became one of the only regions interested in trying to unite those who would fight for the independence of this country.
The birth of the Zaporizhska Sich dates back to 1530 when the Cossacks, crowded by Lithuanian and Polish landowners from the one side and Tatar and Turkish invaders from the other, began assembling in the Zaporizhian region.

The reasons for leaving their homelands to head east were many, but some of the biggest included oppression from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as well as the Russian Empire from the North; the treatment of Ukraine as a nation that was weak; and the enslavement by landowners of many Ukrainian citizens. With the rise of a new national awareness, people made up their minds to stand up for their country and hopes of uniting to form one powerful organisation were high a task that was almost realised.

The Centre of it All
In the beginning, the Cossacks were spread out and encompassed many smaller settlements called Sichs. It was only when oppression increased that they found themselves united on Khortytsya Island, building just the one, but very powerful, stronghold. This island in the middle of the Dnipro was a perfect, natural location to house the headquarters of all Ukrainian Cossacks, which included eight different Sichs all from different regions: Khortytska (Zaporizhska), Bazavlutska, Tomakivska, Mykytynska, Chortomlynska, Oleshkivska, Kamyanska and New Sich (Pidpilnenska). Historical references provide clues to the existence of another Sich, Zadunaiska - but this was created only after the Zaporizhska Sich was destroyed in 1775 by the Russian Empire.  

A Community in Itself
The Zaporizhska Sich was a completely self-sufficient society with its own system of government, industry and economy. The island itself was surrounded by fortifications that included numerous cannons, and had a large central square in the middle of Khortytsya Island surrounded by the Cossacks own living quarters or huts. It is thought that a society of approximately 10,000 armed Cossacks at any one time could be found living there, where culture and spirituality were also a matter of utmost importance: people were able to attend mass, many developed specialised crafts, and many more involved themselves in ironmongery, fishing and hunting. The central square also served as a sort of community centre for general meetings where important issues were discussed and resolved by the Rada. Anyone disagreeing with what was said or put forth had the right to speak.

Social Layers
That said, even although Cossacks were finding independence in the Sich after running away from the slavery they found elsewhere there yet existed a ruling social class, a working class and even an underprivileged social layer of Cossack society; proving that even in the most genuine of societies, not everyone gets an equal kick at the cat. This group, the Zaporizhska Sich, was headed by a Cossack Starshyna. This was a group of men chosen to rule, solve private disputes as well as pressing external issues, control finances, the law, the legal system and the military; where typically, members of this ruling elite were chosen only from the wealthiest of families. The one thing that differed from the rest of the world at this time was that every citizen of the Sich had the right to vote, regardless of whether he was rich or poor. But more than anything else, military endeavours were made the number one priority by this group of men where the main goal was to protect their lands from outside invaders. Women were not allowed and anyone caught with one in the Sich was sentenced to death.

International Notoriety
Unfortunately, the Zaporizhska Sich was not as powerful as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire or even the Turkish-Tatar Khanate; each one of these, doing their best to oust any hope of the Sich reaching independence. That is not to say that they did not have friends, however, as countries like Sweden were highly involved, both militarily and economically, with the Hetmans. As well, the Sich was constantly finding fair-weather friends in their aforementioned enemies whenever it seemed to suit them best.
It turned out in the end, however, that nearing the close of XVII century, influence held by the Russian Empire would increase so much that it would lead to the strangulation of all Cossack rights. No longer an independent settlement, the Sich attempted to save whatever autonomy it had left and so Ivan Mazepa, turning to Sweden for help, started a war against Russia. But Tsar Petro I ordered an attack on the Zaporizhska Sich however which brought sent them reeling. The year was 1709 and any Cossacks still living in Ukraine, although making attempts at revitalisation, were ransacked again. The very last Sich would be destroyed in 1775: able to stand up to almost anything, except time.

Vadym Mishkoriz

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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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