Pushkin Street has been transformed into a holy bazaar, and it’s crowded. Elbow to elbow, fur hat to fur hat, loudspeakers blaring out the chance to redeem your soul, stock up on groceries, or simply dance, dance, dance to the ecstatic music proclaiming God’s—and Rebbe Nachman’s—eternal greatness.If you want any remote chance of getting to the counter at one of the makeshift falafel or shawarma stands knocked together for the benefit of the tens of thousands of pilgrims who’ve just arrived, you’ve got to bore through a morass of people waving shekels, dollars, and hryvnias like it’s 99-cent-drink night at the local dive bar. It’s a jungle out here, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in Uman, Ukraine, the burial place of the 19th-century Hasidic mystic rabbi known as Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (in Hasidism, “rebbe” is an affectionate term for “rabbi” that also connotes a strong spiritual leadership). Nachman promised redemption for anyone who visited his grave, and for more than 200 years that grave has been the site of a fevered pilgrimage for Jews from around the world. In the past decade, the atmosphere has grown carnivalesque at times, as the followers of Nachman, traditionally Hasidim from religious upbringings, have swelled with former Deadheads, erstwhile Phish Phanatics, reformed criminals, and recovering (and sometimes not) alcoholics and drug addicts. The operative language is Hebrew, though you hear English, French, Yiddish, and Russian. The only ones speaking Ukrainian are the locals, who are allowed onto Pushkin Street if they can prove they live or work in the area, a measure meant, presumably, to ease crowding, but also to prevent violence between the native population and the tens of thousands of once-a-year religious tourists. As a result, Ukrainians are sparse, but they’re not the only ones: The pilgrims are all men. Here and there I notice posters in Hebrew slapped onto telephone poles and synagogue walls: it is forbidden in places where there are large gatherings of men for women to be found!
Tag Archives: Ukraine
Quando Lena (il nome è stato modificato) si sveglia, non vede niente. Ha una benda sugli occhi e le mani legate dietro la schiena. La ragazza, una giornalista ucraina di ventidue anni, non sa dove si trova ma, in lontananza, sente rumori e grida. Ha la sensazione di essere “forse in una cantina”. Ha anche sete. È presa dal panico e si mette a urlare. Una guardia entra bruscamente e la colpisce con un fucile “finché non smette”, poi se ne va. Il giorno dopo, sempre senza acqua né cibo, Lena urla ancora. La sua guardia la colpisce ancora. Ogni tanto la afferra per farle un’iniezione. Allora la giovane giornalista comincia a sudare e “perde la nozione del tempo”. Quando non la tormentano, riflette, riscrive la storia. Pensa che avrebbe dovuto dare ascolto ai suoi amici.Loro l’avevano avvertita. Donetsk, nella zona separatista filorussa nell’est dell’Ucraina, è diventato un posto pericoloso per una giornalista, soprattutto se viene da Kiev. “Se non ci va nessuno, il mondo non saprà quello che sta succedendo laggiù”, aveva risposto ai suoi amici. Era il maggio del 2014. Da allora, non passa un giorno senza che si penta della propria decisione.
Sloviansk is a grey city in eastern Ukraine. This was already the case, before pro-Russian separatists occupied it and the Ukrainian army brought it back under Kyiv’s control. But young people are now attempting to add some splashes of colour to the wasteland, not far from the frontline. And not only with paintbrushes. Above all, they want to change people’s mentality.
The Trump administration is facing its first major test on the international stage as volleys of Russian artillery and rockets continue to pound Ukrainian forces in the country’s contested east, reigniting the frozen conflict and killing about a dozen Ukrainian soldiers since Sunday.
The barrages, along with renewed pushes by Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces near the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka, spiked dramatically on Sunday. The day before, Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin held their first phone call, reportedly talking about forming a new alliance against the Islamic State and working together on a range of other issues.
Vladimir Putin accuses Ukraine of killing Russian servicemen in terrorist attacks in Crimea and warns that the deaths will not be ignored. The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, orders his country’s military to be in a state of combat readiness. Talks over the Minsk agreement, which established a ceasefire of sorts in the vicious conflict, have been put on hold. There are dire predictions that Ukraine is sliding back into war.
The upsurge of this particular episode of violence, and its venue, has come as a surprise. There has been low intensity, but rising, strife in separatist Donetsk and Luhansk in the east over the last few months, but Crimea has not experienced serious military action since it was annexed from Ukraine by the Kremlin in the chaotic aftermath of the Maidan protests.
Over the past year, Ukraine has been falling out of the headlines. Since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in July 2014, stories from Ukraine have rarely punched above regional news.
Global media is western-oriented, and Ukraine has been eclipsed by stories seen to have a direct impact on the west — from migration to the US presidential election. For me, as a foreign journalist based in Kiev, this has meant a seemingly endless succession of goodbye parties in recent months, as the news market pushes friends and colleagues who have been through revolution and war on to other bigger stories.
Trent’anni dopo la peggiore catastrofe nucleare della storia, la zona altamente contaminata intorno alla centrale di Černobyl, abbandonata dagli abitanti, si è trasformata in una riserva unica dove prosperano gli animali selvatici.
“Quando la gente è partita, la natura è tornata”, spiega Denis Vishnevskij, ingegnere capo della “zona di esclusione” che si allarga in un raggio di 30 chilometri intorno al sito dell’incidente. Intorno a Vishnevskij, una mandria di cavalli selvaggi è alla ricerca di cibo sotto uno spesso strato di neve immacolata. Un’immagine che potrebbe sembrare surreale a chi conserva il ricordo del dramma di Černobyl e delle conseguenze disastrose per qualsiasi forma di vita.
Of all the things Tetyana thought she might become, a soldier was never one of them. Yet here she was. Not a regular soldier, more like some sort of general, someone able to command life and death. Sitting in her father’s apartment, in her pyjamas, with her hand over a keyboard, knowing that if she pressed one key she might send many very real people to a very real death, and if she pressed another the revolution and all that she, her friends and thousands of others had fought for might be lost.
Tetyana ran the Facebook page of Hromadske Sektor (the Civic Sector), one of the main opposing groups in the Ukrainian revolution against President Yanukovich and his backers in the Kremlin. It was her job to propagate the idea of positive, peaceful change: videos of a protester playing a piano out on the street when facing a row of riot police; pics of protesters holding mirrors up to the security forces; a drawing of a cop duelling with a protester with the cop holding a gun and the protester ‘shooting’ with a Facebook sign. Yanukovich controlled the old media but online activists could organise everything from medical help to legal aid, coordinating million-strong protests and raising funds from Ukrainians abroad for food and shelter.
Tetyana had kept up the click-beat over many months of protests. Hromadske Sektor had 45,000 followers and 150,000 visitors attended their events: people who didn’t trust politicians but believed in civic leaders and volunteers like Tetyana. She had joined Hromadske because she wanted to be part of a historical moment: something to tell her future children about. But it was just a part-time thing. She would post on the site as she filed stories for her real job as a financial journalist. She told herself she would somehow stay above the fray; she was for democracy and human rights, sure, but she wouldn’t get dragged into disinformation; wouldn’t get her hands dirty.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is also to blame, slightly less so, because people never elected him to this job and he has fewer powers than Poroshenko.
Poroshenko has in several ways abused the trust placed in him by Ukrainian voters who put him in office by a landslide on May 25, 2014.
His chutzpah is amazing, considering the fate of predecessors who betrayed the national interest, most recently Moscow resident Viktor Yanukovych, who couldn’t get out of Ukraine fast enough on Feb. 21, 2014, once he realized that flight was the only way to save his life.
The dreams of the EuroMaidan Revolution have been blocked by two years of Poroshenko’s oh-so-clever obstructions. Poroshenko acts as if the rest of us are too stupid to figure out what is happening. I predict Ukrainians will soon bring severe consequences on him for his arrogant betrayals.
A quarante kilomètres de Simferopol, capitale de la Crimée, la crête d’une colline dépouillée est coiffée de lettres géantes : «Parc aux lions Taïgan». C’est ici qu’Oleg Zoubkov, un entrepreneur de 47 ans, a installé sa «plus grande collection de lions d’Europe». Le safari est l’une des merveilles touristiques de la Crimée. Il s’étend sur 35 hectares d’une terre ocre, rappelant vaguement la savane, où vivent plus de 70 lions, tandis que des dizaines de tigres de l’Amour et du Bengale, des pumas et des léopards, mais aussi des ouistitis et des perroquets, des flamants roses, des girafes et des kangourous sont installés dans de vastes enclos, en partie à ciel ouvert… Mais les allées sont vides, malgré un soleil éclatant et la douceur du fond de l’air : le parc est fermé aux visiteurs depuis un mois. En signe de protestation.