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On the cover
¹7 (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 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.

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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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What's On Archive ¹ 10

¹10/2007
23 March - 29 March

Alternative Kino
Arthouse Cinema Series from Britain’s Peter Greenaway



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From THE EDITOR - Editorial

When the Orange Revolution first broke out in 2004, the initial media reports referred to it as the ‘chestnut revolution’, even though the trees that line the streets of downtown Kyiv were autumnally bare at the time. This leafy piece of branding is a reflection of just how synonymous with greenery the Ukrainian capital is, and makes the current trend of huge greenbelt land sales all over the city even more disturbing (see page 7 for details). Long term residents no doubt take it for granted that Kyiv is one of the greenest capital cities in the world, a fact that goes a long way to making it such a pleasant place to live and work, but tragically for future generations it seems that for many in government the only green that counts is the dollar variety. The end result is that one of the eternal attractions of the Ukrainian capital is facing the very real threat of extinction. If nothing is done now then we could soon face a future where in not too many years all we will be able to do is look back and reminisce about the days when Kyiv was a tree-lined haven full of natural beauty and abundant parks. As we approach the first riotous spring blossoming that is Kyiv’s annual ‘green revolution’, it is worth remembering that once these areas are given over to the developers to build on, an important part of what makes Kyiv such a wonderful city will be lost forever. 

 Cheers,
Peter Dickinson
Editor
   


Scandal as Eurovision Favourite Verka Sings ‘Russia Goodbye’ - Whats Up?

Since winning the national vote in Mid-March Ukraine’s sensational drag act Verka Serdyuchka has attracted the attention of Eurovision fans across the continent with her outrageous ‘Dancing’ song, sparking a lively internet debate and prompting many to install the performer as the hot favourite to win the May contest. The catchy tune, which features German, English and Russian in a parody of Euro pop techno, includes the controversial lyrics ‘Russia Goodbye’, although the singer has since claimed rather unconvincingly that the actual words are Mongolian and any similarity to the phrase ‘Russia Goodbye’ is purely coincidental. As well as appearing to dismiss Ukraine’s northern neighbours the song also rubs salt into the wound by referring to dancing on Maidan in a direct reference to the pro-democracy Orange Revolution of 2004 which was regarded in Moscow as being overtly anti-Russian and part of a dastardly plan to further humiliate the former superpower. Opinion is divided over the track, with many internet posters proclaiming it the most quintessentially Eurovision tune ever, while other have dismissed it as a national disaster. Russians seem to be particularly offended, not least because for years the Verka Serdyuchka character has enjoyed enormous popularity in Russia, where he/she is viewed as the ideal Russian-speaking, comically provincial Ukrainian stereotype. Verka’s performance looks set to be one of the highlights of Eurovision 2007, and in the month leading up to the big final of the Eurovision Song Contest on 12 May in Helsinki we can expect plenty of hype and lots more attention for emerging Ukraine as a result. Should Verka triumph the country would not be the first to record multiple Eurovision victories but nevertheless it would be one more step towards a higher international profile for Ukraine. However, there is bound to be plenty of scandal in the run-up to the competition, adding to the climate of political tension between pro-Russian and pro-European camps that currently dominates Ukrainian politics.



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World’s Oldest Man is Ukrainian! - Whats Up?

 The country may well be facing a demographic collapse with life expectancies plummeting, but Ukraine still boasts the world’s oldest man in lifelong bachelor Hryhory Nestor, who celebrated his 116th birthday last week. The retired West Ukrainian farm worker has experienced Austro-Hungarian, Polish, Soviet and Ukrainian rule throughout his years in West Ukraine, and on reflection says he preferred life under the Habsburgs.


Klashnikov Killing Sparks Gang War Fear - Whats Up?

A multiple killing close to oligarch heaven Konche Zaspa on 16 March provoked fears that Ukraine may be about to experience gangland battles of the kind unseen since the lawless days of the early 1990s. Three men were killed when their SUV was riddled with kalashnikov bullets following an ambush early in the evening. Police counted over seventy bullets in total. The victims are described as Russian citizens originally from Dnipropetrovsk in Ukraine, and media reports have speculated that the killing could be linked to Russian oligarch Maxim Kourochkin, currently being held in Kyiv in connection with the illegal sale of Kyiv real estate during the Kuchma era.


Top Award for World Football Official - Whats Up?

 In a bid to curry favour ahead of the 18 April decision on the host nation for the Euro 2012 European Football Championships President Yushchenko awarded FIFA president Sepp Blatter 18 March with one of Ukraine’s highest state honours, the Order of Yaroslav the Wise. The flattery certainly seems to be working, with Blatter publicly backing the Ukrainian bid during his visit to Kyiv. “I hope the championship will be held here in Ukraine. Both countries (Ukraine and Poland) have done a lot to merit staging the championship,” he stated, before backtracking somewhat and conceding “of course it is up to the UEFA executive committee to make the decision. Ukraine is hoping to host the games jointly with Poland and faces competition from Italy and a further joint bid from Hungary and Croatia. “It is Ukraine’s strategic goal to integrate into the world and Europe as soon as possible,” Yushchenko emphasised, adding that success in their joint bid would “unite Ukraine and Poland in their European future and give new stimuli to football in Europe.”  


Bitter Football Rivals Head for Donbass? - Whats Up?

 The former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan might well end up playing their crucial two-legged Euro 2008 qualification ties in Donetsk or Odessa early this September after Ukrainian Football Federation chief Hryhori Surkis offered to host the games. Caucasian mountain neighbours Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war following the break-up of the USSR and remain at loggerheads over their desputed border, with millions of Azeris still living in squalid refugee facilities, making a two-legged tie in their respective capitals a recipe for disaster, but Ukraine, which hosted Israeli team European ties in summer 2006 during the Lebanon war, is seen as the ideal neutral venue.  


New Chornobyl Health Threats Identified - Whats Up?

Ukrainian media reported last week on a new environmental threat that the now inactive atomic power plant at Chornobyl poses to Ukrainians. Chornobyl, site of the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster in 1986, was finally decommissioned in 2000, but according to recent reports forest fires that rage through the 30KM exclusion zone surrounding the former power plant could lead to radioactive clouds until at least the middle of the century. Meanwhile, the same report also suggests that the Prypyat river will remain polluted for hundreds of years to come, while the huge amounts of abandoned machinery used in the clean-up operations back in 1986 now also pose a health threat and remain highly radioacctive.


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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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