Archive for May, 2011


May 23, 2011

In earlier times Kyiv boasted the greatest area of plantation per each inhabitant of the city. Old Kyivans love to cite the French President Charles de Gaulle who, visiting Kyiv in June 1966, exclaimed: “It’s one large park in which the city is situated.” President de Gaulle does not live any more, Kyiv is no longer green. So, it’s quite natural that I was thrilled to see a spot of vegetation last Sunday which had miraculously survived the construction boom of the early 21st century. I immediately remembered a science-fiction story about a girl who  found a blade of grass shooting through asphalt and who, for this reason, was taken to a reformation center as a criminal. So far the situation in present-day Kyiv has not yet reached that point of civilizational development and I was able to take  pictures of a shady playground for children and of the highrises across the road. I couldn’t help photographing the  inner courtyard formed by these sky-scrapers. The English word “green” is related to the word “grow”. I wonder, what kind of emotionality will be grown in the hearts of the children who play in the stone jungle?


May 22, 2011

UNAUTHORIZED PEDDLING IS PROHIBITED. Such announcements are put up at all metro entrances in Kyiv. Those are busy places — especially at rush hours in the mornings and by the end of the day, —  and peddlers used to display their goods for sale there. For many of them those trading places were the only source of family income. Not now. With the new ‘political brooms” the small business is clamped down upon. A week ago there were clashes between the police and marketeers who had their stalls and kiosks pulled down.  Ironically, most of the salespeople all over Ukraine had voted for the current president in the last year’s election, because he promised the tax holiday for small business.

I asked one of my acquaintances why the present-day regime (I cannot call it by any other name) is so much against small business, to which the acquaintance answered that the Party of the Regions is the party of big business — like Margaret Thacher or Winston Churchill were in their days, he added. Modern politicians in Ukraine would definitely be flattered if they knew that they were compared to the Iron Lady and the British Bulldog. The difference is, however, that those two might not have stolen so much from their country’s treasury as Ukraine’s  “kings of the hill” are used to doing in relation to their own country. Recently I have read that for a country, such as Ukraine, to start regenerating, the annual growth of GNP should be no less than 8 per cent. Taking into account the incurable vice — on the part of the powers-that-be — to appropriate something which does not belong to them, the growth should, probably, constitute no less than 16 per cent. The perspective bordering on fantasy!


May 6, 2011

The Russians have published a fairy-tale map where places of some fairy-tales’ origin are indicated. At least two fairy-tale characters which are claimed to be Russian are definitely Ukrainian: I heard those fairy-tales when I was a toddler and I told them to my own kids when I became a parent. At the moment linguists are waging scholarly wars proving that the etymology of the vocabulary used in the Russian and Ukrainian versions of the fairy-tale about Kolobok (a cake-man, actually, a fat bun, who skips his way through the forest chased by some greedy beasts desperate to gobble him up) is Ukrainian. But for me the most convincing proof of a fairy-tale’s ethnic roots is its popularity. The tale about the man-style cute cake is extremely popular among the Ukrainian children and is not so frequent in Russia (though it exists in its Russian variant too).

Another point which arouses suspicion regarding the validity of the Russian claims is the traditional inclination of Russia to take into possession something which doesn’t belong to it. In the 17th century the then Moscovy started calling itself “Rus” (later “Rus-sia”) – the name which all the time before had been associated with Kyiv – the capital of Rus from the 9th to the 13th centuries. Soon afterwards the Kyiv patriarchate of the Orthodox Church was shifted to Moscow due to the pressure made by the Moscow priests on the Orthodox Church leader in Constantinople. In the 17th -18th centuries a lot of scholars were moved from Kyiv to Moscow to build up Russia’s educational institutions. The tradition remained alive in later periods when the Ukrainians Serhiy Kolorolev (the mastermind of the Soviet first space flights) or Serhiy Bondarchuk (the creator of the film War and Peace) were called “famous Russians”.

All recent years the Ukrainian and Russian governments have been involved in a tug-of-war regarding the museum exhibits that earlier belonged to Ukraine and now are stored in Russian repositories.

In medical vocabulary there exists a term “compulsive hoarding”. It’s a mental disease – an excessive acquisition of possessions, even if the possessions are of limited value. The definition may be applied to the collection of such things as vinyl records, audio cassettes, CDs, DVDs, VHS cassettes, magazines, newspapers, fliers, souvenir items, and articles of clothing (sneakers are among the most common).  As it looks, the disorder may be observed not only on an individual level and may relate to hoarding fairy-tales of other nations too.

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