Wednesday, January 11, 2017

10 (rediscovered) links about Ukraine

My computer has turned into a black hole for files, pictures, and bookmarks over the past few years. It's like an archaeological dig- bottom layers are full of Ukrainian odds and ends, covered over by the past few years of life in the US and short trips elsewhere.

Today, I dug down to the bottom and found some old things to share with you. Take this, for example-

These are people's personal garages. If you live in a big apartment block in Ukraine, you might need something like this to save your car from snow / be manly in / store homemade pickles and rusty hammers. These garages were built next to apartment buildings and often painted in bright colors.

Simple enough, right? Except... the garages have a reputation. Here's a cartoon from Mom leans out the window, saying, "Don't go to the garages."

I don't know what really happens at the garages. We only lived in one place with garages, and they were always locked up and quiet. But according to Ukrainian photographer Anatoliy Babiychuk, garages are the original Man Caves for Ukrainian guys. From 2007-2014, he photographed The Garages of Chervonograd. He writes, "From the moment the garages were built, they began to be ‘misused’ by their owners/users, who transformed their original function to their own ends." I liked looking through Babiychuk's photos and finally getting to see what's inside these mysterious little squares. Have you ever been inside a Ukrainian garage?

But Ukrainian garages were just one thing I found while excavating my computer files and tabs. I actually came across an entire folder bookmarking different news stories and links. Some are lighthearted, some are depressing, and all are completely random. And old news. The only thing that connects them is Ukraine. If this sounds interesting to you, you're in the right post.

2. This funny clip from the movie Everything is Illuminated is like, well... Ukraine: Worst Case Scenario for Vegetarians. Still, maybe it's getting a little bit easier to be vegetarian in Ukraine, since the hipster scene is catching on. What do you think?

3. This article from February 2015 called Долг жителей частного сектора за вывоз мусора - более трех миллионов гривен, Kharkiv residents owe more than 3 million griven for garbage collection in the private sector. The news reminded me of what we'd pass by in the hallway of our apartment building: a long list of who owed money for public services. It would be hung up near the entryway so that everyone who lived there could see it. I never quite got it- was it supposed to shame those who owed money?

4. On Friendship, Bribery, and Narrowly Avoiding Deportation from Ukraine. A story from way back in 2012.

5. A short video called Не спонсоруй війну!!!!, Don't Sponsor War!!!! calling for a 2014 boycott of Russian products in Ukraine.

6. How to Heat Your Room for 15 Cents a Day. In Ukraine, it's a city decision to turn on the heat. Until the government makes that call, you don't have heat. Sometimes it would get pretty cold before the heat was turned on, and it was during those days that I found this video. Never tried it, though... would you?

7. On the other end of the affordability spectrum, here's a scandalous (exaggerated?) old tabloid story: Meet the Super-Rich Oligarch's Wife Whose Life Includes Pet Falcons, His'n'Hers Private Jets, and Champagne Baths. Her husband a) owns the Kyiv Post b) is clearly quite wealthy and c) is originally from Pakistan. The Daily Mail is still fascinated by the couple, maybe because they once appeared on a short-lived British reality TV show called Meet the Russians.

8. This is sad and graphic. In 2012, the New York Times wrote Outraged by Fatal Assault on Young Woman, Ukrainians Force an Investigation about the rape and murder of Oksana Makar. A similar thing happened the following year in Kharkiv. This time, a man poured moonshine on 17-year-old Julia Irnidenko and set her on fire. Ninety percent of her body was covered in burns. Everyone in Kharkiv was in complete shock. This was the local newspaper, published the day after she died.

The man involved is still being detained by the police... but he got married this summer.

9. Oldie but goodie. The song Разом нас багато, Together we are many became an anthem of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution. The band later sang it in English as an entry in the Eurovision contest. Great song!

10. Did this even make the English-language news? Со 2 января в военкомат будут вызывать с 17 лет, Starting January 2nd, Ukraine will lower the draft age limit to 17. The article is now about a year old.

I told you it was a totally weird and rather somber collection of news :/ Still, thanks for tagging along with me on some digital archeology.


  1. That garages thing is really interesting. I was told that in many places they are built illegally and every so often the government will come and tear them down no matter what's inside. At least in Russia, but I'm sure it's probably the same in Ukraine.

    I once saw outside my apartment building a bunch of guys with fancy movie filming lights and an old looking restored car. The car was beautiful. I wanted to take a picture but it was raining and I didn't feel like talking to them haha

  2. I loved watching the veggie clip. I was a vegetarian when I visited Leningrad in 1986 and gave up after a day : )

    1. Hi Martin! Well, I certainly commend you for the attempt. ;)

      PS: Very nice blog- your train trip + time in Lviv sounded wonderful!