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7 (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 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.


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.


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.


Ukraine History

The Great Patriotic War

For Eastern Europe, the war began 22 June 1941. It would be the largest stage of war the world had ever seen and will be notoriously remembered for its unprecedented ferocity, destruction, and the vast loss of life. But besides the number of casualties - over one third of the total, many of them civilians - WWII also resulted in the rise of the Soviet UNI0N as a military and industrial superpower.

At 03:15 on 22 June 1941, 99 (including fourteen panzer and ten motorised divisions) out of 190 German divisions, deployed an attack against the Soviet UNI0N from the Baltic right through to the Black Sea. They were accompanied by ten Romanian divisions as well as nine brigades from Romania and four from Hungary. On that same day, the Baltic, Western and Kyiv Special Military Districts were renamed the Northwestern, Western and Southwestern Fronts respectively. 

The Rundown
For a month the offensive conducted on three axes was completely unstoppable as the panzer forces encircled hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops in huge pockets that were continually reduced by the slower-moving infantry armies. As part of this high tempo campaign, the German air force began immediate attacks on Soviet airfields, destroying many of the Soviet Air Force fleets; which, nevertheless, consisted of planes that were largely obsolete. 
As German troops were getting deeper and deeper into the country, however, day by day it was getting harder and harder for them to fight against the Soviet soldiers. And the invasion that was once considered successful, ceased to be such a success once the Nazis reached Stalingrad. It was this city, named after one of the Soviet UNI0Ns great leaders of the past, that stopped the Germans in their tracks. Because had Stalingrad admitted defeat, not only would it have been the loss of a city, but the loss of an ideology. 
The Battle for Stalingrad has been judged as one of the greatest victories on the Eastern Front, and rightly so: Taking place between 17 July 1942 - 2 February 1943, the results of all operations are cited as the turning point for WWII. And yet, as one of the bloodiest battles of the war, casualties during those few months alone are estimated at a whopping two million, and have been marked by brutality and a disregard for military and civilian casualties from both sides. It was the first large-scale defeat for Germany as the Soviet-offensive eventually trapped and destroyed the German 6th Army as well as other Axis forces. They were forced to retreat and this would be the last time Germany would engage any Soviet territory. February 2 would mark the beginning of a dream lost for the Nazis.
But it would take a further two years to continue the push of German armies back to their home base in Berlin. And this was important for Stalin as not only did he want to crush the Germans, he wanted to be first in the capital to gain a commanding influence over the European continent. His offensive attack to capture East Germany began on 16 April with an assault on the German front lines situated on the Oder and Neisse rivers. The day the Soviet forces fought their way into the centre of Berlin, April 30, Hitler decided that he would go out in style by marrying Eva Braun and then committing suicide by cyanide and shooting himself. Helmuth Weidling, the defence commandant of Berlin, surrendered the city to the Soviets on 2 May and the German Instrument of Surrender entered into force on 8 May 1945 at 23.01 CET it was already 9 May in the Soviet UNI0N.

War in His Own Words 
Younger generations have been lucky; most of their encounters with war have only been in books and movies. And while those with first-hand experiences are getting fewer and fewer, that isnt to say that theres no one around who remembers those fateful days. In fact, arriving at the Veterans Centre in the Solomyansky neighbourhood, I was greeted by their deputy chief, Hruhoriy Lvovich Strokin. A man in his 90s and still in demand for signing documents, settling disputes and talking over the general issues with the veterans and pensioners he has under his wing. Finding a fleeting moment out of his busy day for Whats On, he spoke briefly about his memories of war and those things that still plague him today.
When we talk of war, I cant really express what the hardest aspect of it was because from beginning to end, including the Victory Parade itself, its all hard. When the war kicked off, I was a 20-year old student and was immediately put into the reserve. At that time, the most frightening thing for me was hearing that the Nazis were just 27 kilometres from Moscow and Hitler had claimed that his troops were getting ready to parade on Moscows Red Square. And yet I wasnt afraid when I was sent to the front lines, trudging through trenches not even knowing how to shoot a gun, because the ideologies of communism were guiding us and all I can remember thinking was Rodina Mat v opasnosti (the Motherland is in danger). 
Of course before 1942, German troops had the advantage. They had more time to ready themselves, and according to the pact agreed by both Stalin and Hitler, we were supposed to be safe from German attacks. They had excellent armour and were far better equipped. And we... What did we have... We had an army of 173 nationalities, friendly and compassionate toward each other. And we were united by an ideology: A strong will and the faith that we would prevail. I would even go so far as to say that the patriotism between all Soviet soldiers played one of the most important parts in this war.  
When the war ended, I was frightened. Frightened of the silence. Being on the front Id got used to the noise and tension and then all of a sudden, I was faced with silence. And yet, people were counting the days til the wars end, supporting each other, being positive and friendly, believing in justice and good fortune even though they faced a squalid reality: Life in zelyankas, a shortage of everything, a huge number of orphans. 
Now it is different, and from a 90-year perspective I realise that our politicians haven't learnt anything. Theyre obsessed with power and dont give a damn about those they should care about. This day, 9 May, is not only about commemorating those that die in the war, its also about reminding those in power, that human beings, along with our well-being, is of the utmost importance... At least, it should be. Veterans these days receive a pension of 1300-1400hrv a month, while heart medicine, for example, costs about 700hrv. You tell me how can those of us that are left survive such conditions? 
Politicians remember us on 9 May. If only we as 20-year old soldiers, fighting for victory, had known that this was how we would have been taken care of; humiliated and always in need. Times of war were terrific. God only knows what you could call the times we're living in today...

Vadym Mishkoriz and Ksenia Karpenko

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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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