|On the cover|
Tunnelling Towards Hope
|28 February - 6 March 2014|
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.
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.
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.
|What's On Archive ¹ 5|
16 February - 22 February
A feast of Spanish kino this week in Ukraina Cinema
Going Out Chef’s Corner
Just a Minute
On the Sofa with...
|From THE EDITOR - Editorial|
In this day and age there are not many territorial disputes left in Europe, but last week an on-going argument between Ukraine and Romania was reheated with the Bucharest government warning Ukraine not to try and establish a village on a Black Sea island in a bid to drastically boost Kyiv’s claims to nearby natural resources (see page 8 for details). Ultimately an international court will decide the fate of the picturesquely named ‘Snake Island’, but if Ukraine is able to gain official recognition for this desolate but strategically important rock, it will represent one more conquest in a process of Ukrainian territorial expansion which is without rival in the history of post-war Europe. Much has been made of the fact that Ukraine is the largest country in the continent, but the rather obvious reality that almost one third of this huge land has been acquired since the outbreak of WWII is rarely if ever mentioned. Today’s Ukraine includes huge swathes of land taken during and immediately after the war from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Hungary, not to mention the entire Crimean peninsula, which until 1954 had been part of Soviet Russia. The point that all this was done in the name of the Soviet UNI0N does alter the end result that today’s Ukraine gained more land as a result of WWII than any other country. Given the huge sacrifices made by Ukrainians during WWII and the painful on-going debate about the country’s role in the war, it would seem worthwhile to acknowledge the benefits the conflict ultimately brought to the country, albeit effectively by default.
|Donbass Gold for World-Beating Russian - Picture Perfect|
Russian pole-vaulter Olena Isinbaeva was presented with a giant bar of gold (actually 40kg of chocolate as well as 1kg of solid gold worth approx. twenty thousand dollars) in Donetsk last weekend after breaking the world indoor ladies’ pole-vaulting record during an international tournament with a leap of 4.93 metres. Ukraine’s legendary vaulter and multiple world record holder Serhiy Bubka is also from East Ukrainian industrial stronghold Donetsk, and is honoured in the city with his own monument, but he was never presented with such a sweet-toothed treat!
|Infamous Election Committee Head Gets His Own Odessa Monument - Whats Up?|
Last week Ukrainian humour capital Odessa welcomed a brand new monument to Serhiy Kivalov, the man whose election-fixing antics in 2004 went a long way to provoking the Orange Revolution, demonstrating that the ghosts of the old regime continue to haunt the emerging new Ukraine.
|Diplomatic Cold War Heating Up - Whats Up?|
The Cold War between the Yushchenko presidency and Putin’s Kremlin continued last week when it emerged that Ukrainian politician Petro Poroshenko, a leading member of the Orange Revolution team, MP and former Ukrainian Security and Defense Council secretary was refused permission to enter the Russian Federation. The incident occurred on 6 February when Poroshenko arrived at Pulkovo airport (St. Petersburg) by charter flight to participle in a meeting with local banking institutions. Upon being denied entry Poroshenko called the embassy asking the Ukrainian consul to come and assist him. Ukrainian embassy officials were not allowed to enter the customs area, forcing the frustrated Poroshenko to return to Ukraine. The move was eventually justified by Moscow authorities who said it was a direct response to the ban placed on Russian figures such as spin doctor Gleb Pavlovsky, politician Kostya Zatulin and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the vice speaker of Russian Duma and leader of the Liberal Democratic party, who was banned from entering Ukraine in 2006 following a string of highly inflammatory statements regarding Ukrainian statehood including such declarations as, “there is no such country as Ukraine.
|Chernovetsky Tariff Hikes Blocked - Whats Up?|
The highly controversial plans to raise tariffs for residential services by as much as 300% have been shelved following a defeat for Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky in the Kyiv City Council. The new tariffs will now increase by the more modest but not inconsiderable rate of 180%. This reduction is the result of a two-month battle between pro-Mayor deputies and the council’s ‘Orange/ByuT/Klitschko’ alliance. The climb down comes after furious protests across Kyiv at the increases, which have involved entire buildings refusing to pay the new rates and have brought about calls for a referendum to remove Chernovetsky from office.
|World’s Oldest Man is Ukrainian! - Whats Up?|
Lviv authorities where busy last week trumpeting the local resident whom they claim is the oldest living person in the entire world! Much has been written in recent years about the plummeting life expectancies among males throughout the former Soviet UNI0N and the dangers this poses for the shrinking population, but in one hundred and fifteen year old Hryhory Nestor West Ukrainian authorities have found what they think is the perfect antidote. Nestor is a resident of Stari Yarychiv, a small village in Lviv oblast, and has lived in West Ukraine all his life since his birth on 15 March 1891. He has experienced a variety of different political systems and rulers throughout his lifetime, having lived under the Habsburg monarchy, Polish Republic, Soviet UNI0N and now Ukrainian rule. Nestor himself favours the Austro-Hungarian period, which came to an end in 1918 when the Habsburg domains were broken up following the end of the First World War. This reputedly oldest living person has never married, preferring to remain single and move from one romance to another, but rather than amorous activities he puts his longevity down to a healthy diet of milk, cheese and potatoes as well as an an outdoors lifestyle that involves sleeping under the summer skies and walking barefoot throughout the surrounding countryside. (www.loda.gov.ua)
|Ukraine and Romania Struggle Over Status of Strategic Achilles Isle - Whats Up?|
A small island off the coast of the Black Sea that lies almost exactly opposite the point where the Ukrainian and Romanian borders meet is at the centre of an increasingly ugly diplomatic row. The rocky outpost, known as Snake Island or Serpent Island, was the subject of a vote in Ukrainian parliament last week which decided to officially name the current settlement on the island ‘White Village’ and place it on the state registry of Ukrainian localities. The move to build up the outpost into a fully functioning village complete with hotel, museum, and its own post code provoked official objections from the Romanian government which urged Ukraine not to artificially create a settlement on the island in a bid to influence the international tribunal in The Hague which has been investigating the dispute since 2004. Both countries’ presidents have committed themselves to adhere to the international ruling, but attempts to settle the island and place it within the boundaries of Ukrainian local government as part of Odessa Oblast threaten to change the entire situation ahead of any international court ruling. Snake Island currently has a population of just over one hundred, mainly border guard personnel together with a scientific expedition from Odessa National University. The isle has no vegetation or water supplies, but is thought to boast reserves of crude oil and natural gas in the surrounding waters, making it of significant potential value to both countries in their bids for greater energy independence. Both countries have already signed prospect contracts with rival companies, reflecting the interest in accessing these Black Sea energy reserves, but the on-going dispute over ownership of the surrounding waters has prevented any further development of the resources. Snake Island was taken from Romania by the Soviet UNI0N in 1948, and in 1991 passed over to Ukraine, although Romania has consistently claimed the surrounding waters and continental shelf as their own. The status of the territory is crucial, as if it is internationally recognised as an inhabited island rather than a rocky outcrop this will greatly alter the maritime boundary between Ukraine and Romania. In 2004 the Romanians took their case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which is currently considering the dispute. Snake Island has a romantic ancient history, and is said to have been the site of a temple used by the legendary warrior Achilles. Remains of a temple dedicated to Achilles were found on the island by the Imperial Russian naval commander Captain Kritziky in 1923. Achilles is thought to have lived on the island, and archeologists have found extensive submerged ruins in the surrounding waters. In 2003 Ukraine was embroiled in a similar territorial dispute over a small island lying off the Ukrainian south coast, this time with Russia regarding the island of Tusla, with then-president Kuchma cutting short a state visit to Brasil to return to Kyiv and personally fly down to Crimea and negotiate with President Putin after Russian efforts to link the island to the Russian mainland with an artificial dam and claim the territory for the Russian Federation. The current map of Ukraine which hangs behind the seat of Speaker Moroz in the Ukrainian parliament does not feature either disputed island, leading to calls by MPs to have it replaced with a map including Ukraine’s precious isles!
|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|
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.