Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Snapshots of Ukrainian Life in a Chaotic April

Near the train station, April 25th

It's been two months and four days since the previous Snapshots post, and the state of things remains pretty much the same.

Often I look around and see nothing more than a beautiful and calm spring, just like last year. All the photos below are from the past 2 weeks-

We recently spent a mellow weekend catsitting for two friends who took a quick trip abroad.
This beautiful girl is named Marka.
Last weekend a friend from South America threw a party that got a little crazy after some of the other party-goers organized a "Ukrainian-initiation": eating salo, drinking shot after shot of перцовка (spicy vodka), and a lesson in dancing gopak.
Time for salo and vodka!
The gopak, a traditional Cossack dance. This rather impressive dance is also known as "How to Drive Your Downstairs Neighbors Crazy in One Minute" ; )

But then a shocking piece of news will come along- like yesterday's assassination attempt on the city mayor- or a video like this one taken on Sunday will emerge and it becomes crystal clear that it's not a regular spring and that something serious is afoot.

In the past 3 weeks, Ukrainian flags have appeared everywhere. I look out the window and see them hanging from private balconies, waving from the tops of apartment buildings, and that's not all:

But the other side is not shy about sharing its colors either:
Scrawled on the side of a nearby building: Junta, get out!
L: Kiev junta, oligarchs, agreement with the EU, fascists and neo-Nazis, usurper power, fewer social services, corruption, lawlessness, censorship, repression, debt

R: lawful governing, democracy, friendship with Russia, respect for veterans, a federal state, increase in social services, power to the people, constitutional order, freedom of speech and press, personal freedom, economic growth

It's a weird mix of this and that these days: honking cars driving down the streets with either Ukrainian flags or a Ukrainian flag out one window and Russian flag out the other. Passerby wearing little blue-and-yellow striped ribbons while we walk past a tram stop with a spray-painted Russian flag and the words "Kharkov is a Russian city". A sticker on the wall of the metro that proclaims "Russia is protecting us from genocide".

Only occasionally do I stumble across the non-political:
"Your eyes are the color of the sea"

And at the same time, presidential campaigning is in full-swing:
Sergey Tihipko, who previously ran for president in 2010, promises "we will restore order and improve the economy!".
Mykhailo Dobkin, Kharkov's former governor, is also in the race, with the slogan "a united nation".

A few other recent billboards:
an anti-corruption billboard
This billboard for Kredo Bank states "Polish experience, Ukrainian success, European future!"
The green billboard is for a building materials company and offers "stable prices!"

Even emails are reflecting the times:
An email received this morning from a Ukrainian job site: How to survive in a crisis.
All of us worry about how to survive in a crisis.
Many people consider having a job as the key to survival. Should we worry about career change as a survival tactic? Get the details in our article.
Patriotic beer ad in my Facebook feed. "The Ukrainian people need patriots. 'Like' if you are one!"
I pretty much see this ad every day on YouTube. "EU? Russia? Something else?"

It's a time of surprises now.

Changing weather.
Changing politics.

New green shoots appearing where before was only dirt.
New shootings.

Fluctuating temperatures.
Fluctuating currency.

Upcoming holidays.
Upcoming elections.

Let's hope summer will bring brighter days for nature and for us.

Did you know there are 17 past episodes of Snapshots of Ukrainian Life? Check them out here!


  1. Hello and thank you so much for sharing the normal with us, I have reshared here: http://rupertbuukraine.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/8-months-in-ukraine-snapshots-of.html >> G+ >> Twitter.

    Soviet era statues remain magnificent in my eyes, and retention of heritage is so important for forging a nation's identity.

    1. Thanks, Rupert! I have a post coming up soon that I'll think you'll get a kick out of... : )

  2. Very striking photo of the Ukraine flag painted on a post. Thank you for sharing. Would love to see you and D and give you both a huge, long, hug. Since I cannot right now, HUG HUG HUG HUG...that's two for each of you. Oh, and HUG. That's for the Whale.

    1. Hugs back, Joyce!! : ) Except Кит... he kind of sent a glare (but it means he likes you, trust me).

  3. It looks like your April has been.really great and I'm happy to see that there is still so much joy in uncertain times. Stay safe and keep the updates coming! I would really like.to come to Ukraine this summer, but it's hard to know...

    1. Thank you for dropping by, Chelsea. It sounds like no matter what you've got some cool travel plans coming up!

  4. Thanks for sharing photos of new normal life! Granted I hope it will be back to dull, boring, every-day life very shortly :) I really love this Chinese proverb (poslovitsa): May you be cursed to live in interesting time.