Lviv Opinion

Euro 2012 kick – off on schedule Ukraine’s Euro 2012 doubters left confounded as nation unveils final host city stadiums

Issue 40, November 2011.
October saw the unveiling of 2 new Euro 2012 stadiums in Kyiv and Lviv, completing Ukraine’s set of four host city venues ahead of next summer’s showcase European Championships. The country is still far from ready for its role as Euro 2012 co-host, but nevertheless Ukraine’s achievement in meeting its stadium obligations more than half a year before the big kick-off is a symbolically potent success that hasconfounded the legions of doubters who consistently said that it couldn’t be done.

20 years of memory wars

Issue 38, September 2011.
They say that the past is a different country, but in patchwork Ukraine the past is actually at least two different countries in a state of perpetual conflict. With the removal of the Soviet straightjacket, these opposing world views have resurfaced with a vengeance, producing an ongoing national identity crisis which has so far lasted two decades and counting.

Anticipating the post-Euro 2012 expat boom Will 2012 tournament lead to a game-changing increase in the number of expatriates calling Kyiv home?

Issue 36, June 2011.
Ukraine’s much-hyped European Champion¬ships debut is now just twelve months away and as the clock ticks down towards the big kick-off attention will remain firmly focused on the state of the country’s preparations. Will all the planned airports, stadiums and — most importantly from the perspective of UEFA bigwigs — five-star hotels be ready in time? Beyond the bricks and cement of raw infrastructure undertakings, Ukraine’s abil¬ity to successfully manage the tournament will also come under considerable scrutiny: do the country’s policemen and hospitality sector staff speak good enough English to interact with visiting fans? Are host city fan zone facilities up to scratch? Will relaxed local attitudes towards alcoholic excess lead to disaster as football fans from all over Europe rush to experience the dubious pleasures of Ukrainian horilka?

Three years of Lviv life

Issue 35, May 2011.
Lviv Today associate publisher Peter Dickinson reflects on the brief but colourful life of West Ukraine’s first ever English language publication

Chornobyl zone: a national tragedy or tourist attraction?

Issue 34, April 2011.
Lviv Today publisher Peter Dickinson assesses the damage being done to Ukraine’s international image by Chornobyl tourism trade. t is April again and so the traditional annual Chornobyl media frenzy is once more upon us. As this will be the 25th anniversary of the 1986 nuclear disaster, this year we are likely to see even more feature stories than usual popping up in the international press – doubly so given the additional editorial interest which has been generated in recent weeks by the ongoing crisis situation surrounding Japan’s nuclear power plants. Busloads of journalists are already en route to the Ukrainian capital and over the coming weeks they will make the pilgrimage to the exclusion zone north of Kyiv in order to experience the dubious thrill of exposure to the aftermath of Ukraine’s infamous nuclear disaster.

International Women’s Day & Ukraine’s cult of femininity

Issue 32, February 2011.
President Yanukovych came under fire recently for sexism following his colourful commentary at January’s Davos economic summit in praise of Ukraine’s ladies and their annual springtime street-level striptease. This was certainly not the sort of thing which one expects presidents to say when ad¬dressing high-level international business forums. But while many no doubt felt the Donbass strongman was being somewhat less than statesmanlike, few with first-hand experience of the country would accuse him of exaggerating. The Beatles were among the first in the modern era to identify this incred¬ible Ukrainka appeal, famously singing in the 1960s: “The Ukraine girls really knock me out. They leave the West behind.”

Building on a shared Habsburg inheritance

Issue 32, February 2011.
Austria has always been a key player in the affairs of Central and Eastern Europe, and so it was only natural that after the fall of the Iron Curtain Austrian businesses should be among those at the forefront as Europe’s market economies ventured into the formerly socialist lands of the Eastern Bloc. The forefathers of these 1990s economic pioneers had once ruled much of Eastern Europe as part of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Empire, and it is no accident that even today there is a strong accent on former Habsburg domains within Austria’s international investment portfolio. This is equally true inside Ukraine itself, where Austrian activity has been both nationwide and with a regional bias in favour of the former Habsburg lands of West Ukraine, centring on Lviv itself – a city which many Austrian investors say reminds them of home.

“Democracy and Generation UA”

Issue 25, June 2010.
Lviv Today publisher Peter Dickinson on the challenges facing Ukraine’s post-Orange generation of young patriots as they face up to the country’s new geopolitical direction After five years of post-Orange press freedoms, an ill wind appears to be blowing through the country’s media sector. It took President Kuchma a decade in office before the nation’s journalists finally came out in protest against state censorship, but the new Yanukovych administration has provoked the same reaction within just three months. Journalists at a number of national channels threatened strike action in May in response to the selfcensorship and biased news reportage which they claim has accompanied the arrival of the new government. Meanwhile, commentators complain that the free-for-all of modern Ukrainian political debate has been replaced by a sanitized version of events which bears an uncanny resemblance to the humourless coverage favoured by the Kremlin’s power vertical.

Cosmopolitan gateway or nationalist bastion?

Issue 23, April 2010.
Lviv’s football team Karpaty (‘Carpathians’) are on the verge of qualifying for European football for the first time in a decade, offering the club’s fans the prospect of an all-too-rare European adventure. But will Lviv’s notoriously nationalistic fans prove good ambassadors for what was once seen as one of Eastern Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities?

Disillusioned but doggedly democratic

Issue 22, March 2010.
Does Yanukovych’s victory represent the end of the Orange Revolution or its final vindication? Media coverage of Ukraine’s 2010 presidential elections has understandably focused on the geopolitical implications of Viktor Yanukovych’s headline-grabbing victory. Many analysts have declared that Yanukovych’s win marks the final nail in the coffin for the increasingly discredited Orange Revolution and signals Ukraine’s return to the Kremlin’s exclusive sphere of interest. While the long-term geopolitical ramifications of the presidential elections are certainly unlikely to favour the country’s European ambitions, it is also possible to argue that Yanukovych’s victory is in fact the final vindication of the Orange Revolution and proof positive that however damaged it may be, Ukrainian democracy remains capable of giving voice to the mood of the electorate. A Yanukovych presidency may be anathema to many Ukrainians, but anyone who considers themselves a sincere democrat must also acknowledge that his victory has been a textbook example of democracy at work, warts and all.