Archive for the ‘ Ukraine ’ Category

6 weeks of Ukraine in 794 words

There’s a lot been going on since my last post. The most obvious is that the Euros have been and gone and Ukraine showed all the people that called us racists, including Mr Sol Campbell, that Ukraine wasn’t the place the media portrayed it as. The feedback was all positive. So take that BBC.

At the beginnng of June I started an internship with Ivanna Kurlak at AUGB (The Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain). This internship was specifically set up so we could help with and develop AUGB’s social media, revamp the website & to gather feedback from our target audience. Since we started we have noticed a massive increase in the number of ‘young people’ going onto the Facebook page & the website. This is the exact thing that AUGB has been trying to do for a while & now that its spread its wings and flown onto the social media bandwagen! Along with the Facebook page, which in 6 weeks has got 156 ‘likes’, AUGB also has a Twitter account, and almost 60 people follow that. If you’re interested in Ukraine or Ukrainians in GB then follow us on Facebook & Twitter:

AUGB Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AUGB.SUB

AUGB Twitter: http://twitter.com/AUGBSUB

Moving on to the Ukrainian Language Bill that was passed in Ukraine’s Parliment. Bit of background on the bill: in areas of Ukraine where 10% of the population speak a different language that language (be it Russian, Yidish or anyother language) will be ‘the official second language’. This means that documents can be printed in that language, they’d have to use it in court, the schools would have to teach it etc.

The reason for the protests is that this language bill is basically pushing Ukraine back towards Russia. In the east of Ukraine, the majority of the people there speak Russian….therefore in those regions the official second language will be Russian..giving it equal status. A massive step in the wrong direction. I read a quote from somewhere, I’ve been trying to find the referenece but for the life of me I cannot find it. Anyway the quote is: “If you want to destroy a country you must destroy its language”. There’s another quote from Karl Marx, here’s the picture:

The translation is: “The person who doesn’t know the language of the country he is living in is either a guest, a hired labourer, or an invader.” …..even Karl Marx is on our side.

On July 11th we had a protest in London outside the Ukrainian Embassy. About 150 people turned up, including fellow Coventry University student Dean O’Brien. My parents were taking photos and this is a photo montage that I put together for the AUGB website:

To look at Dean’s photos, here’s the link: http://deanobrien.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/demonstration-outside-ukrainian-embassy-in-london-against-proposed-language-bill/

Mid June I went to The Frontline Club in London to watch a documentary film called “Ukraine: From Democracy to Chaos’. I was really looking forward to this, not only because it was a film about Ukraine by a non-Ukrainian but after the film there was a Q&A panel with the director. When it started, it seemed like it was going to be a really good watch but after about the first 30 seconds the sound stopped completely. Technical error. Then the sound did’t work at all. Absolute shambles. The premier of the film & the sound doesn’t work. To top it off the director didn’t have a back up DVD & seemed to be very unorganised. Eventually the director had to do the voice over live. At this point I was sitting next to Dean saying that if that was a presentation for University then we’d have automatically dropped 2 grades. The editting was shoddy, in some parts the clip was cut slightly too soon and the person’s sentence was cut short. Because the director filmed in Ukraine and filmed politicians in Ukraine (Yushchenko, Tymoshenko) they were talking Ukrainian so there were English subtitles. Well, I say there were English subtitles but some parts over ran the subtitles & some were so fast that I couldn’t read them. Rant over about technical errors. The documentary was strong at first and it was quite interesting but after it got half way it sort of turned into a campaige video for Tymoshenko, going on about how great she is etc which was disappointing because I thought it was going to be imparcial, like, bringing everyone’s thoughts together so that the audience could have their own opinion but that wasn’t the case.

For another person’s view about that night, here’s Dean’s blog url: http://deanobrien.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/the-frontline-club-ukraine-from-democracy-to-chaos/

I won’t be able to blog a lot during these next 4 weeks because I am at the Ukrainian Youth Association camp. The internet is alright but won’t be in the weeks to come. This post has been a bit of an explosion of information and ranting.

Euro 2012 & racism

Following the BBC 1 Panorama programme on racism in Poland and Ukraine that was on yesterday evening (May 28th at 8:30pm) I’ve decided that the topic of racism will be covered in todays blog post. I did watched the programme and the images that were shown were truly shocking but Panorama focused on league cup matches and didn’t have ANY footage from international matches. This isn’t me saying that in league matches racism is ok or that in international matches you don’t see any racism because racism is NEVER ok, but I believe Panorama didn’t research the racism issue as best as they could. As I said, Panorama didn’t go to ANY international matches….bad move BBC seen as though the Euro competition is an INTERNATIONAL EVENT. Ukraine’s international matches that I have been to I have NEVER heard any racial comments from any of the fans. I have only been to a handful of matches but friends of mine have been to many more, some in Ukraine and in other countries such as France and they have NEVER heard any racist comments from anyone. This doesn’t mean that those racist fans won’t be at the games or on the streets during other games.

The Panorama programme has shaken people…which is the whole purpose of Panorama…to show shocking images, put the presenter in the middle of it all, secret filmings and, what looks like, clever editing. Now, I’m not saying that the programme was complete shit because there is truth within the programme. Racism is an issue in every country. No one can deny that. This year in England we had racial incidents happen on the pitch from Luis Suarez and, England captain, John Terry (who was stripped of his England captaincy pending his trial which is happening after the Euros).

The programme was rather shocking to watch, not just see the hooligans shouting and “nazi saluting” but it was interesting to see the police interaction and involvement in the racial incidence was minimal. This didn’t just show Ukrainians as racist but it also showed our police force to be lazy and not bothered. “The images screened on the Panorama programme do not represent the behaviour or mindset of the vast majority of Ukrainian people, who are both tolerant and hospitable, and are looking forward to welcoming guests from all over the world for Euro 2012.”AUGB website

There are some people that hang off Panoramas every word and would’ve seen the programme on Monday and thought “I AM NEVER SETTING FOOT IN POLAND OR UKRAINE BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL RACIST” instead of doing their own research as well….in fact we Ukrainians aren’t all racists, Panorama showed the actions and words of a small group of people. Its this small group of people that have made the headlines say things like:

“Euro 2012 turning into PR disaster for Ukraine as racism fears scare off fans” – The Guardian

“Nazi mob lies in wait for England fans: Riot police march into battle against thugs on Euro 2012 terraces – but turn a blind eye to racist chants and violence” – DailyMail

“You could end up coming back in a coffin’: Sol Campbell warns England fans to stay away from Euro 2012” – DailyMail

“PFA’s chief backs Sol Campbell over fears of racist violence in Ukraine during Euro 2012” – The Independent

Here are the links I used:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2150951/Euro-2012-racism-Sol-Campbell-warns-England-fans-stay-away-BBCs-Panorama.html?ITO=1490

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/may/28/euro-2012-ukraine-sol-campbell?newsfeed=true

http://www.augb.co.uk/news-page.php?id=890

Hopefully you don’t think that Ukrainians are racists just by the words and actions of small group of people. Those that are traveling to Ukraine or Poland for the Euros I hope you have a brilliant time and get back safely.

Really Warner Bros.?

This really isn’t going to be a long post. There are so many more important things I could be posting about Ukraine right now and I will be in the next few days. Now that I’ve finished my last assignment I am free to do more posts about Ukraine. The reason for this less important post is that a friend told me that a horror film about Chornobyl is coming out soon.

Ok, so Warner Bros. really want to make money out of a terrible nuclear disaster that happened about 25 years ago. I thought that it couldn’t be that bad….I could not be more wrong. I visited the website. http://chernobyldiaries.warnerbros.com/index.html
First of all, they got the spelling of Chornobyl wrong. In Ukrainian it is spelt чорнобиль so WHY is it spelt Chernobyl Diaries and not Chornobyl Diaries? WHY ‘er’ instead of ‘or’. Sounds like a stupid thing to complain about. If the script writers/producers actually did detailed background research then they’d know that.

I watched some of the trailers and basically the script is exactly the same as The Blair Witch Project but this time you can see the ‘thing’ that is taking/killing the “innocent” victims. This film looks like its doing the whole ‘handheld camera’ thing which quite a few recent films have done e.g. Cloverfield (which, in my eyes, was pretty shit).

The Huffington Post said: “Chernobyl Diaries, a horror movie about six teenaged “extreme tourists” who visit the radioactive hotspot on vacation, only to discover that the place is populated by mutant zombies. Pre-release comment ranges from “Awesome!” and “I can’t wait” to “video poop” and “teen-flick nonsense.” – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glen-browder/george-wallace-and-martin_3_b_1437362.html

It seems, from watching the trailers, that this film will be the typical American traveler horror film filled with American actors that can barely act and a man that has a weird “Ukrainian” accent. They go to Chornobyl, it gets dark, the car won’t start. Oh no. Instead of staying together they split up into groups and instead of staying in the car with the doors locked they just simply have to go and explore. People go missing from the group, oh no, who could possibly be doing this, oh look its zombie Ukrainians. I will be going to see this film when it comes out so I can either say “yes, I was completely right to take the piss” or “no, it was actually decent” (doubt I’ll be saying that one). But I will go and see it and review it. I guess I’m going into it with a closed mind but I will be fair.

For any of those who are interested about чорнобиль here is a link to some really good photos that were taken by Zoltan Balogh http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/picturegalleries/8776991/Photographs-of-Chernobyl-and-the-ghost-town-of-Pripyat-by-Zoltan-Balogh.html
Some really nice shots there, these are probably some of the best photos I’ve seen that have been taken in Prypyat.

As I said at the beginning, I will be doing more posts in a few days but in the mean time I hope this post wasn’t too much of a rant, sorry if it was, I promise the next one will actually be more about important issues like the punch up in parliament….you didn’t know? check out the video: Ukrainian MP Brawl
….and how this effects the country and the already tarnished image it has.

Quick update!

This update will only be quite short, not much opinion from me because its late and I’ve only realised the time.

so……

1) The EU President has told the President of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovych, to stay away from a joint meeting next week. Why has he told him to stay away?! Because of the wrongly imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/127308/

“Herman Van Rumpoy, the European Council President is quoted as saying “When the Prime Minister of Ukraine announced he would come to Brussels, we said “Stay home!” It is a clear message from our side that they have to change inside Ukraine. Ukraine was a model democracy in 2004 and it has to become that once again.

The way Ukraine is dealing with the former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, is just unacceptable. We have said this very, very clearly to President Yanukovych.” – http://odessablog.wordpress.com/2012/05/

2) Also, leading EU officials have openly said that they WILL be boycotting ALL the football matches that are being played in Ukraine.

WELL DONE EU!!

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3) Tymoshenko has urged the FATF (Financial Action Task Force on money Laundering) to investigate corrupt and money laundering transactions by the Viktor Yanukovych regime. http://www.kyivpost.com/news/politics/detail/127285/

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4) Tymoshenko is now being treated by German doctors and ends her hunger strike http://www.augb.co.uk/news-page.php?id=854

why German doctors?! Well, she refused to be treated by Ukrainian doctors because she feared for her life. And rightly so! In Yanukovych’s Ukraine I wouldn’t trust a doctor to take my temperature. They could slip and accidentally slice my face off.

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5) Ukraine fights Euro 2012 boycott http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17992679

“Ukrainian opposition leaders have urged Europe’s leaders to boycott Ukraine’s authorities rather than the football contest.”

I really hope Yanukovych looks like an absolute lonely f***** sitting in the VIP box by himself. That would make my summer. And yes, the picture of Yanukovych sitting by himself will be my background for my laptop, iPod, iPad, Mac etc etc.

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I’m rambling now. Late night blogging is not really a good idea. I’m getting really weird, even for me. More news about Ukraine to come within the next few days so keep your eyes on this blog!

Should Euro 2012 be boycotted?

Before I start writing this post I’ll tell you a bit about why I’ve started this category and why I’ve waited until now to start it! My grandparents are Ukrainian and I’ve been brought up as Ukrainian, until I was around 5 years old I could only speak Ukrainian because that was the only language my parents spoke to me. My parents were born in England and so was I so that makes me 3rd generation Ukrainian. I still try to speak Ukrainian (as best I can) and I’m part of the Ukrainian Youth Association. So, why did I choose to start this category? Well, I’ve been meaning to start it for a fair few months now, the first time I starting thinking about it was probably when Tymoshenko was arrested but unfortunately due to University work I’ve not been able to. Now that my first year at university is drawing to a close I have more time to write this blog.

Today’s blog post is all about Euro 2012 and if minister from different countries should boycott the part of the competition that will be held in Ukraine. In recent days there have been a few political people who have said they are considering boycotting the matches in Ukraine. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, is one of those people as well as the Austrian government.

Political situation in Ukraine:

  • Widespread corruption in the government and the police.
  • Humans rights are abused.
  • Unfair and flawed judicial system.
  • Journalists are harassed.
  • Right to protest freely are continuously curtailed.
Why should ministers boycott Euro 2012?
The imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko and the abuse she has received in prison. She has been on hunger strike for roughly 2 weeks now and on Friday May 4th German doctors The Guardian posted this article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/04/yulia-tymoshenko-german-doctors-ukraine-prison
“The doctors concluded that she was suffering from intense pain and needed urgent treatment in a specialist clinic. Tymoshenko’s family said she was suffering from a herniated disc in her back.”
While in prison she has been beaten and many people think that her recent injuries and pain are as a result of those beatings. These are some pictures that were released a few weeks ago.

With 31 days to go until Euro 2012 starts it is time to take action. I’m not saying that national teams should boycott the competition because it’s too late to do that…and plus, I doubt the fans would like that. Ministers from the European countries that are taking part in the competition should openly say that they will not attend the football matches being played in Ukraine, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They should also say why they aren’t going to attend. The more people that do this, the more it hurts the Ukrainian government, Yanukovych and also raises awareness about Tymoshenko and how she has been treated while in prison. It will also send a message to the Ukrainian people which will show them that other countries do actually care…unlike the Ukrainian government. By not attending the games that will be played in Ukraine the european ministers will effectively stop/stall Yanukovych’s chance to get photo opportunities with them and prevent the Ukrainian authorities from using the competition as PR/propaganda opportunities.

As for the Euro 2012 final, which happens on July 1st…I believe it SHOULD be moved to Warsaw. As a big football fan myself I would love for Ukraine to hold the final in the capital, Kyiv, but with everything that has been going on in Ukraine with Tymoshenko, I believe it would be better to have it held in Warsaw. This will send a direct message to the Ukrainian Government saying that no one wants to be affiliated with them.

 

Sources and other useful links:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17926935

http://www.augb.co.uk/news-page.php?id=839

http://www.augb.co.uk/news-page.php?id=850

http://www.augb.co.uk/news-page.php?id=848

http://www.augb.co.uk/index.php

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/may/01/yulia-tymoshenko-daughter-husband-video