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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 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 Travel

A Trip to Uman and Sofiivskiy Park

Polish nobleman Count Stanislaw Szczesny Potocki must have loved his great wife Sofia very much because he created what is now one of the most famous examples of late eighteenth-early nineteenth century European garden design. And he spent a fortune doing it. With lakes, waterfalls, fountains, statues, ornate buildings and a plethora of flowers from all over Europe, it is a truly remarkable place and by far the most popular day trip from Kyiv. But Id never been. It was time to remedy that.
How about a trip to Uman this weekend, my friend Colin suggests one evening while Zhenya and I are having dinner with him and his wife Oksana. If youre not doing anything.

Zhenya and I look at each other and then say in unison: Sure. Weve been meaning to take a trip out of the city for some time, but something always comes up and weve not managed. This weekend, however, we have no plans, and were both glad for the suggestion.
We decide we should stay overnight in Uman, so everyone can partake of a beer or two and no one has to worry about driving home. There is a hotel in the park itself, but sadly were too last minute and it is fully booked. However, after a little research on the internet, we find another place just out of town called the Gontiv. It looks okay from the photos, so we book it.

Overloaded and Overwhelmed
When Saturday comes Colin and Oksana turn up outside our apartment bang on schedule, and they appear to have put a little more thought into it than Zhenya and I. Weve only brought a change of underwear and our toothbrushes with us, and so were very happy to see the boot of Oksanas car full of useful things like blankets for sitting on, frisbees for throwing, and some games to keep us occupied.
Weve decided were going to picnic in the park, so as we pass the ring road to enter the Odesa road, we stop in at Magellan to stock up. Were only getting enough for one lunch, but you wouldnt think it as we get to the till because with everyone throwing in their only little wants and needs we have enough food to feed a family for a week.
After that, were off down the road to Uman. Its about 220km south of Kyiv, so we reckon its going to take us just over a couple of hours. Its a bright sunny day, warm but not yet scorching, and theres a lot of fun banter being batted back and forth, so, as is often the case, the journey is as much fun as the getting there.
After about an hour it is announced by Oksana that we need to participate in the Ukrainian tradition of stopping to eat boiled eggs. Ive never heard of this tradition, but I am assured it is one. Either way, a couple of boiled eggs at this juncture sounds like a very good idea, so Im not complaining.
After pointing out numerous places off the road to stop which apparently we cant stop at because were not giving enough notice, Oksana, whos our nominated driver this weekend, pulls into the side of the road and we eat hardboiled eggs and drink coffee (told you they were organised) while juggernauts and madmen in fancy cars thunder past.
An hour or so later we enter Uman and a few minutes later we find a space in a car park at the entrance to Sofiiskiy Park. With each of us laden with bags filled with food and games we enter the park, picking up a map as we go, and wander down through the trees.
After a while we come out at the top of a gentle slope giving way to beautiful landscaped gardens of little lakes with islands, statues, green grass, beautifully coloured flowers and ornate decorative little buildings. And this is apparently not the main show, only a teaser.
To get to the main show we have to cut over a small hill, which is further than it looks on the map. But once there were greeted with larger lakes, larger decorative buildings mostly in a Greek style, larger statues and more of them, and many more flower gardens. It is all rather overwhelming, and makes us all pause a moment to think how much Count Stanislaw Szczesny Potocki must have loved Sofia.

Picnics and Frisbees
After a short time of wandering, we realise that we are simply overloaded. We also realise that despite the boiled eggs, were pretty hungry, so we wander off up through some trees, on the other side of which we find an open field where we lay down some blankets to picnic.
The word multitasking fits aptly to what goes on over the next hour or so as sandwiches are made and eaten, beer bottles are opened and drunk, frisbees are tossed back and forth, and quiz questions are read and occasionally answered.
Our load lightened we set about discovering all the park has to offer, and it is a lot.
There are more lakes (some with fountains in the middle, some with statues, and yet others with more of these decorative little buildings); a plethora of classic statues; a fountain which makes you more beautiful if you drink from it; gardens full of flowers; pedalos (peddle boats for our American friends) and a pirate ship; and you can even take a boat ride through a long dark tunnel.
This park truly is an amazing place the landscaping is quite beautiful, and there are plenty of things to see and do. And there are lots of things to keep kids occupied including zorbing.
We spend the next few hours wandering around this massive homage to love. Everywhere you turn theres something new to see. I could go into detail on everything, but really, its something you need to see for yourself. Even the photos dont do it justice.

Evenings Uman Style
After a long day in the park were hungry and thirsty despite our picnic, so we pile back in the car and head off in search of our hotel. Thankfully, the Hotel Gontiv is easy enough to find as it sits just off the Odesa road to the east of Uman.
We enter the building and our initial impression is one of concern there is no reception, just a bell, and the entrance smells funny. Our concern deepens when we realise the bell isnt actually attached to anything, but some young folk appear and we ask them where we register.
Strangely, they direct us up the stairs to a small room right at the far end of the corridor. Sure enough, thats where we find the receptionist, but it seems, when theyve stuck her away back here, as if theyre not actually very keen on guests.
However, were greeted pleasantly and given our keys. The rooms are basic, both with twin beds and en-suite shower rooms. Each also has a TV, but thats it. But with room prices starting at only 120hrv a night, you cant ask for much.
Once weve dumped our stuff and showered, we return to reception and ask what there is to do in Uman on a Saturday evening. The lady thinks for a moment, and then says: Well, there is a disco sort of thing.
We dont really like the sound of that, but decide to give it a go. When we leave the hotel, however, we spot a covered dance floor with little huts around it. It appears to be part of the restaurant-bar attached to the hotel. A man in his sixties is setting up some sound equipment. Looks like theres going to be a party right here.
We seat ourselves in a little hut, order beer and take a look at the menus. While were sipping our cold ones waiting for our food, the music starts and a crowd of folk in their thirties appear from the restaurant and start to trip the light fantastic.
Like the rooms, the food is basic, but its not half bad for that. And cheap. We eat some tasty grilled pork steaks and fries, and drink more beer. Then the inevitable happens in such surroundings and we order a bottle of vodka. The locals seem a little perturbed by this small group of foreign men and Ukrainian women drinking vodka and beer with pieces of paper stuck to their foreheads asking each other silly questions, but they tolerate us with pleasant smiles and reasonable service. And we have a great time enjoying the company and the alcohol.
Uman and its beautiful Sofiisvkiy Park is a must see if youve not already been. Get a few folk together and go there. And it would be my suggestion when you do, to book yourself in the Gontiv Hotel (if you can tolerate basics for one night), and experience nightlife Uman style. We had a blast, so will you.

Gontiv Hotel
Kyiv-Odesa Highway at Uman 
(take exit for Pikivets/Uman)
(04 744) 33102, 33389
Rooms start from 120hrv per night

Richard Caldwell

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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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