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On the cover
№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 EuroMaidan’s three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the country’s 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.


Whats Up?

Pioneers of New Ukraine

The collapse of the Soviet UNI0N and the death of the Pioneers did not mean the end of youth organizations. Today, thousands of youngsters regularly meet to take part in numerous outdoor activities organised by Plast, a Ukrainian scouting movement with a long past and which has enjoyed growing popularity over the past decade.

Although very much a phenomena of post-Soviet Ukraine, the Plast scouting movement has a history stretching back almost 100 years. Predating the communist Pioneers, Plast was formed when these lands were still ruled by a tsar; in 1912, five years after the World Scout Movement. The man behind the movement was a professor, Oleksandr Tysovsky, who sought to help nurture physical strength, spiritual purity, and intellectual curiosity in a new generation of young Ukrainians. These were exciting times for those who dreamed of an independent Ukraine; the Ukrainian national movement was thriving throughout the country, with the socialists in particular making great gains through exploiting tensions between Russian landlords' and factory owners' Ukrainian workers. Tysovsky, much like the Soviets later, came to the conclusion that the future of Ukraine rested on youth, a youth which would be strong, vigorous and steeped in the country's cultural and historical heritage. His teachings had a profound effect on two students, Petro Franko, the son of the writer Ivan Franko, and Ivan Chamola, who founded the first Plast chapter in 1916 in Lviv. Membership soon swelled to around the 10,000 mark, with young men attracted to the organisation's blend of activity and nationalistic teaching which is demonstrated by the word 'Plast' itself, a derivative of 'plastun', a Cossack scout. The nationalistic character of the movement meant that many members actively sought an independent Ukraine, leading many to fight alongside Austro-Hungarian forces, as part of the Ukrainian Sichovi Striltsi detachment, against the army of Imperial Russia. These actions were not forgotten by the Soviets, who banned Plast in 1922. Plast chapters survived a little longer amongst those Ukrainian communities who found themselves living outside the Soviet UNI0N with diaspora communities in North America in particular raising their children in the Cossack scout tradition. The movement also had branches in Poland and Czechoslovakia, but these had all been closed by the onset of the Second World War. Plast activists amongst the Ukrainian diaspora took part in a number of World Jamborees of Independent Scout Formations, and many involved were optimistic that the reforms of perestroika would allow Plast to emerge from the underground and operate with a modicum of freedom. This belief was misguided however; since the 1920s the Soviet authorities had viewed any expression of Ukrainian nationalism as potentially fatal to the stability of the USSR. A 1989 Plast gathering resulted in beatings and arrests and it wasn't until Ukraine's independence that the movement finally began to openly meet and recruit.

Today, the Plast scouting movement has some 10,000 members operating out of 120 centres throughout Ukraine. Unsurprisingly Lviv, the home of the Plast movement and a hotbed of the Ukrainian national ideal, provides the most fertile ground for Plast, boasting 24 centres and 3000 'plastuns'. The patriotic bent of the movement can be detected from its emblem, a Ukrainian trident coupled with the fleur-de-lis of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, and the oath sworn by all members; 'On my honour I swear to do everything in my power to be faithful to God and Ukraine', this despite the fact that the organization declares itself to open to people of all faiths. The Plast community is split into four age groups named 'ulad'. The first ulad comprises children aged 7-11 with the boys referred to as Novak and Novachka for girls. Then come the Yunaki and Yunachki, who are aged 11-18 called Yunak and Yunachki followed by the Older Plastuns aged 18-30. The fourth grouping consists of the over-30s who are known as the Senior Plastuns. Each Plast group is made up of a number of 'Gurtok' or groups made up of 6-10 children and an elder leader who acts as mentor. Like scouting, campaigning and various outdoor pursuits play a central role in Plast activities with each member expected to 'build spiritual ties with the community, to work in a friendly environment, and appreciate the need for law, order and responsibility towards friends' fate'. On average each Plast member spends around 300 hours a year hiking, sailing, diving, rafting, and undertaking general do-gooding, in addition to learning more about Ukrainian history, culture and traditions. Like the Soviet Pioneers and Scouts around the world, plastuns are one group of young people who are certainly prepared.

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Ukraine Truth
Rights We Didn’t 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 don’t 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 – children’s 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. What’s 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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