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What is Ukraine like as a country?

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Post on TSR and win a prize! Find out more... 10-04-2014
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    I have a new flatmate who is from Ukraine.

    I have no idea what it is like at all? It would be good to know a bit about it...

    Is it rich or poor? What is the weather like? Is the culture quite Western and modern?

    Thanks for any replies!
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    Just use Wikipedia, should give you a good overview of the country.
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    They should free Yulia Tymoshenko. Immediately.
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    Lots of tractors, lots of headscarves, lots of radiation.
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    Racist. And surprising as well for a country that was raped repeatedly by the Soviets. You'd have thought they knew the value of freedom and tolerance.


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    (Original post by David9)
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    Ukraine is a bit of a Jeckell-and-Hyde country if i'm honest.

    The size and location of the place means their is a varied culture, almost from region-to-region, from the more "European/Germanic" Galicia (where I am from), the Turkic Crimea, to the Russified East.

    Ukraine is naturally very beautiful, the Steppe, the Dnipro, the forests surrounding Kyiv for example - and can also be very architecturally beautiful:

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    The history of Ukraine can only be described as one of suffering, since the fall of Kyivan' Rus and the Kingdoms of Halych and Volhynia - various parts of Ukraine have been subject to (mostly hostile) foreign rule : Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, The Imperial Russian Empire, The Soviet Union, The Crimean Khanate, Habsburg Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania. this only adds to the contemporary complicated nature of Ukraine and it's peoples.

    Politically, Ukraine is a corrupt oligarchy, with the current President doing his best to dismantle any semblance of civil society - with regular attacks on freedoms of speech and assembly as well as media freedoms. Similalry, opposition candidates are routinely harrassed by the Militsia and SBU and some sent to prison (Tymoshenko and Lutsenko). Currently, the government is attacking the Ukrainian language and culture, in a politically-motivated move to split the nation linguistically. Whilst the richer only get richer, the average ukrainian lives somewhere like this:

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    This is what much of the public thinks of the current President:



    The standard of life for the everyday Ukrainian isn't great outside of Kyiv, rural areas are especially poor whilst smaller cities suffer from high levels of unemployment, mafia crime, drug use and other sad occurances.

    Having said that - Ukraine has only been a country in its own right for 21 years, and there need to be many many years before the nation will once again be great. The people of Ukraine are generally good-humoured, depending on where you are of course - with a vibrant and colourful culture, art and music:



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    (Original post by ukr-nffc)
    Politically, Ukraine is a corrupt oligarchy, with the current President doing his best to dismantle any semblance of civil society - with regular attacks on freedoms of speech and assembly as well as media freedoms. Similalry, opposition candidates are routinely harrassed by the Militsia and SBU and some sent to prison (Tymoshenko and Lutsenko). Currently, the government is attacking the Ukrainian language and culture, in a politically-motivated move to split the nation linguistically.

    Having said that - Ukraine has only been a country in its own right for 21 years, and there need to be many many years before the nation will once again be great. The people of Ukraine are generally good-humoured, depending on where you are of course - with a vibrant and colourful culture, art and music:
    Hi, you brought up a couple of very interesting points in that post. Firstly, what do you think the outcome will be of the October elections?
    It's becoming incredibly clear that Yanukovych's popularity is decreasing despite the attempt to retain his power base in places like Donetsk with that language bill but I get the impression that the only two viable alternatives to the Party of Regions are the United Opposition and UDAR. I don't really know enough about Natalia Korolevska's Ukraina Vpered party to comment on them but the fact that she was kicked out of the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc seems to put her more in line with Yanokovych than the opposition. And, however much I love Sheva, he doesn't seem to be the most politically astute person ever so that's not really worked much on Korolevska's favour either.

    Secondly, what do you think the ramifications of the language bill will be?
    I would completely respect the idea of wanting to read official documents and whatever else in your local language like Russian or Crimean Tatar if it was a purely language-based decision. But, like you said, it was a politically motivated decision and just seems to reinforce the differences between east and west. When I was in Donetsk in June, a waitress basically summed up the situation by telling me that in Donetsk and the east, they love Russia and are suspicious of those in the west who are more nationalistic so passing a language bill to cement the divide even more seems a pretty poor decision.

    And as for the last part of your post, I whole-heartedly agree. Everyone I met in Donetsk a couple of months ago were incredibly friendly. I enjoyed my time there so much that I was actually quite sad to leave. So I saved all my left over hryvnia for when I come to Kiev next September

    Sorry about the long post! But the topics I asked you about haven't really come up on TSR but I find it all fascinating!!

    PS I'm looking forward to the Shakhtar Donetsk v Dynamo Kiev game shortly! Probably be another Shakhtar win though...
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    As a poverty-stricken hell-hole it's pretty good but as a country it's pretty ****.
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    (Original post by oldham_fran)
    Hi, you brought up a couple of very interesting points in that post. Firstly, what do you think the outcome will be of the October elections?
    It's becoming incredibly clear that Yanukovych's popularity is decreasing despite the attempt to retain his power base in places like Donetsk with that language bill but I get the impression that the only two viable alternatives to the Party of Regions are the United Opposition and UDAR. I don't really know enough about Natalia Korolevska's Ukraina Vpered party to comment on them but the fact that she was kicked out of the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc seems to put her more in line with Yanokovych than the opposition. And, however much I love Sheva, he doesn't seem to be the most politically astute person ever so that's not really worked much on Korolevska's favour either.
    I honestly think (and hope) that whilst the Regionnaires will come away from the election with a bloody nose, not much will change it terms of day-to-day governance - the 'man on the street' will see little change i feel. We are already seeing election irregularities and fraud occurring before any vote has been cast (http://bit.ly/Seesg4 sorry if you don't read Ukrainian/Russian). As you say, the main alternatives being БЮТ and УДАР - whose own financial backers are somewhat questionable (then again, who's aren't in Ukraine?). I like Yatseniuk and i genuinely like Klitchko and i hope they do well. The only trouble with the Regions and Yanuk, is the fact they have so successfully consolidated their Donbas power base and will be hard to remove from the positions they currently hold. I think that the 2015 elections will see widespread protest and eventual bloodshed - if Yanuk loses, he will almost definitely be imprisoned, along with many of his clansmen. He/They will not allow this to happen, which will, in my opinion, trigger some horrific violence on the streets of Ukraine. Korolevska is an unknown quantity, the suspicions surrounding her wealth (and it is vast) cannot be ignore imo - Sheva's politics have always left something to be desired, his backing of the regions in 2004 clearly illustrate this.

    Secondly, what do you think the ramifications of the language bill will be?
    I would completely respect the idea of wanting to read official documents and whatever else in your local language like Russian or Crimean Tatar if it was a purely language-based decision. But, like you said, it was a politically motivated decision and just seems to reinforce the differences between east and west. When I was in Donetsk in June, a waitress basically summed up the situation by telling me that in Donetsk and the east, they love Russia and are suspicious of those in the west who are more nationalistic so passing a language bill to cement the divide even more seems a pretty poor decision.
    The language bill is an awful piece of legislation that will cost hundreds of millions of hryvnia - and is a cynical distraction tool employed by the Donetsk bandits to hide their crime of repeatedly ravaging the Ukrainian nation.the waitress you mentions is fairly typical of those in the east, who cannot help their history of having the Soviet Union more entrenched in their society - the bill is exactly as you say, a tool of division, to pit the East against the apparently 'lunatic nationalist fascists of the West'. Yanuk and his Donbas knuckle-draggers have always had a kind of hatred toward those of us from Halychyna or Volhynia.
    I accept that many people use Russian in their own homes and amongst their friends, but this has never been suppressed. Unlike, historically, the Ukrainian language has - and therefore it needs protection through constitutional guarantee. As much as i accept the widespread use of Russian, we are talking about Ukraine - politicians and those undertaking offices of state or acting in any official capacity should use the language of the nation; Ukrainian.


    And as for the last part of your post, I whole-heartedly agree. Everyone I met in Donetsk a couple of months ago were incredibly friendly. I enjoyed my time there so much that I was actually quite sad to leave. So I saved all my left over hryvnia for when I come to Kiev next September

    Sorry about the long post! But the topics I asked you about haven't really come up on TSR but I find it all fascinating!!

    PS I'm looking forward to the Shakhtar Donetsk v Dynamo Kiev game shortly! Probably be another Shakhtar win though...
    Glad you enjoyed it - try and visit Lviv or Ternopil or the Karpaty, some lovely areas of the country, as is Crimea (despite the particular fleet that sits in Sevastopol).

    I was in Donetsk this summer too, i didn't find it too interesting if i'm hoset, there are a lot better places in Ukraine.

    Yeah, you were right - a shocking performance from Dynamo
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    (Original post by ukr-nffc)
    Ukraine is a bit of a Jeckell-and-Hyde country if i'm honest.

    The size and location of the place means their is a varied culture, almost from region-to-region, from the more "European/Germanic" Galicia (where I am from), the Turkic Crimea, to the Russified East.

    Ukraine is naturally very beautiful, the Steppe, the Dnipro, the forests surrounding Kyiv for example - and can also be very architecturally beautiful:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The history of Ukraine can only be described as one of suffering, since the fall of Kyivan' Rus and the Kingdoms of Halych and Volhynia - various parts of Ukraine have been subject to (mostly hostile) foreign rule : Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, The Imperial Russian Empire, The Soviet Union, The Crimean Khanate, Habsburg Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania. this only adds to the contemporary complicated nature of Ukraine and it's peoples.

    Politically, Ukraine is a corrupt oligarchy, with the current President doing his best to dismantle any semblance of civil society - with regular attacks on freedoms of speech and assembly as well as media freedoms. Similalry, opposition candidates are routinely harrassed by the Militsia and SBU and some sent to prison (Tymoshenko and Lutsenko). Currently, the government is attacking the Ukrainian language and culture, in a politically-motivated move to split the nation linguistically. Whilst the richer only get richer, the average ukrainian lives somewhere like this:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	khrushchevki_ukrainian-heritages-ussr.jpg 
Views:	99 
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ID:	174687 as opposed to this: Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	174688

    This is what much of the public thinks of the current President:



    The standard of life for the everyday Ukrainian isn't great outside of Kyiv, rural areas are especially poor whilst smaller cities suffer from high levels of unemployment, mafia crime, drug use and other sad occurances.

    Having said that - Ukraine has only been a country in its own right for 21 years, and there need to be many many years before the nation will once again be great. The people of Ukraine are generally good-humoured, depending on where you are of course - with a vibrant and colourful culture, art and music:




    Hey, thanks for making the effort to provide a really informative post. I took the time to watch those videos and they were really interesting.

    How do you know so much about Ukraine? Are you from Ukraine yourself?

    My new flatmate seems like a really nice person, and the place they are from in Ukraine is called Vinnytsia, do you know anything about that?

    We had a bit of a chat about the UK and Ukraine. They asked me what famous Ukrainians I had heard of.....the only ones I know are Andriy Shevchenko from Chelsea and the Klitschko brothers from boxing!

    Ps. I gave you + rep because your post was very educational and must have taken some time to do
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    (Original post by David9)
    Hey, thanks for making the effort to provide a really informative post. I took the time to watch those videos and they were really interesting.

    How do you know so much about Ukraine? Are you from Ukraine yourself?

    My new flatmate seems like a really nice person, and the place they are from in Ukraine is called Vinnytsia, do you know anything about that?

    We had a bit of a chat about the UK and Ukraine. They asked me what famous Ukrainians I had heard of.....the only ones I know are Andriy Shevchenko from Chelsea and the Klitschko brothers from boxing!

    Ps. I gave you + rep because your post was very educational and must have taken some time to do
    I was born in Nottingham to Ukrainian parents, both of whom are from the Ternopil Oblast - we speak Ukrainian at home, it was my first language and I go back almost every year.

    I haven't ever been to Vinnytsia, but i know it has some history.

    Thanks, not many people know about Ukraine, and i find that there are many stereotypes and mis-conceptions (just look at a few of the posts above) that need to be corrected - i hope i've gone a small way in doing this
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    (Original post by ukr-nffc)
    Glad you enjoyed it - try and visit Lviv or Ternopil or the Karpaty, some lovely areas of the country, as is Crimea (despite the particular fleet that sits in Sevastopol).

    I was in Donetsk this summer too, i didn't find it too interesting if i'm hoset, there are a lot better places in Ukraine.

    Yeah, you were right - a shocking performance from Dynamo
    I'm not at all suprised that there are already 'irregularities' in the run up to the election. Sad to say that rigging votes isn't exactly a new concept to Ukrainian politicians, particularly Yanuk's lot. My main problem with Yanuk though is the fact that he put so much time and effort into things like the language bill and the Tymoshenko saga when they aren't genuine issues - they're just cynical attempts to distract his supporters from the fact that under his tenure, Ukraine hasn't really progressed socio-economically.

    I'd love to see Klitschko do well. As politicians go, he seems one of the most honest. But that might be because his background is in sports so doesn't seem like he's as inherently dirty as a lot of the others. As for Korolevska, I'm not suprised there's suspicions regarding her wealth. I read somewhere that Sheva donated something like 10 million hryvnia to the party, but that doesn't cover much of what she's spent on her election campaign. And when I was in Donetsk, she was bloody everywhere! I remember seeing people on the street handing out 'Ukrainia - Vpered' banners and her face on loads of billboards.

    I totally agree that Ukrainian as a language should be preserved. When I was writing my History dissertation (on collaboration in German occupied Ukraine during WW2) I did plenty of background reading, and came across tons of info regarding the suppression of the Ukrainian language under the Soviets and how Russian was promoted as a language of "inter-ethnic communication" and what not. So it seems that the use of Ukrainian as the official state language is synonymous with independence, a notion which is therefore greatly undermined by the promotion of the Russian language.

    I'd love to visit L'viv at some point since my grandfather came from a village called Tershakiv in L'viv'ska oblast. I also recently managed to track down the addresses of my great uncle Mykola and his son who still live there, so I'm just working up the courage to write to them! Unfortunately, my grasp of Ukrainian is incredibly basic so I guess that's the main thing that's putting me off. It's nice that you speak it as your first language

    Shame about Dynamo. They're not having a good start to the season and I can't see them progressing past the Champions League group stages after that thumping from PSG...

    Edit - I see Dynamo have sacked Yuri Semin...
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    (Original post by ukr-nffc)
    Thanks, not many people know about Ukraine, and i find that there are many stereotypes and mis-conceptions (just look at a few of the posts above) that need to be corrected - i hope i've gone a small way in doing this

    (Original post by oldham_fran)
    I'd love to see Klitschko do well. As politicians go, he seems one of the most honest.



    I see there are 2 Ukrainian people in this thread now.

    As for the stereotypes and misconceptions, I wouldn't worry too much about the replies in this thread. If I started the exact same thread but as "what is the United States of America like as a country?" it would probably get a load of replies saying they are all overweight and eat too much McDonalds or something along those lines.....

    Couple more questions:

    Is Ukraine wealthier or poorer than Romania? That may seem a random comparison but I have family from Romania so know what it is like....

    Also how much Russian is spoken there? And does the Ukrainian language differ much from Russian? I understand that both languages are written using the same alphabet.

    Also, you mentioned Vitali Klitschko standing for election. What are the chances of him becoming mayor of Kiev? His potential fight with David Haye depends on him losing.
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    One thing I found funny about Ukraine was their Eurovision entry in 2007. What I found funny wasn't the act itself, but I remember hearing that some Ukrainians didn't want it in Eurovision because they didn't want to promote stereotypes of rural Ukrainians.

    As if anyone thought Ukrainians were like this



    Of course now everyone thinks all Ukrainians are cross dressing space men
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    I'm from Russia and the general consensus there is that Ukraine is basically the same but with less oligarchs/wealth and more pro-west.
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    It's actually 'The Ukraine'
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    (Original post by David9)
    I see there are 2 Ukrainian people in this thread now.

    As for the stereotypes and misconceptions, I wouldn't worry too much about the replies in this thread. If I started the exact same thread but as "what is the United States of America like as a country?" it would probably get a load of replies saying they are all overweight and eat too much McDonalds or something along those lines.....

    Couple more questions:

    Is Ukraine wealthier or poorer than Romania? That may seem a random comparison but I have family from Romania so know what it is like....

    Also how much Russian is spoken there? And does the Ukrainian language differ much from Russian? I understand that both languages are written using the same alphabet.

    Also, you mentioned Vitali Klitschko standing for election. What are the chances of him becoming mayor of Kiev? His potential fight with David Haye depends on him losing.
    I don't really know anything about Romania so I can't answer your first question.

    Russian is spoken quite widely in Ukraine, particularly in the east and southern regions which would prefer Ukraine to have closer ties with Russia. In fact, based on recent legislation, cities such as Donetsk, Kharkiv, Odessa and Simferopol have granted Russian the status of 'regional language' which means that Russian will be used in schools and on official documentation.

    As for the differences between the two languages, they both come from the same family of languages - Eastern Slavic which also includes Belorussian. And while they do both use the cyrillic alphabet, there are subtle differences. For example, the letter 'Г' is pronounced as an 'H' in Ukrainian but as a 'G' in Russian, while the letter 'Ґ' is pronounced as a 'G' in some Ukrainian words but doesn't exist in the Russian alphabet along with a few other letters that exist in one but not the other.

    It's a bit like the differences between Spanish and Portugese in the sense that they are closely related but are still separate languages rather than different dialects. I only understand the basics of each language so I can't give you an accurate answer as to how much Russian a Ukrainian could understand (or vice versa), perhaps ukr-nffc can go into further detail.

    I think that Klitchko stands a good chance of being elected. Based on recent polls, his UDAR party are third in the electoral preferences with 12.7% of voters which is an amazing feat since UDAR in it's current form has only been a party since mid-2010. The party currently in charge, Party of Regions, is leading with 21.2% whereas the United Opposition in 2nd has 17.2%.

    Klitchko would batter David Haye anyway :P that wouldn't even be a fight...

    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/poli...on-313214.html
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    (Original post by Cannotbelieveit)
    It's actually 'The Ukraine'
    No it isn't - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18233844
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    (Original post by David9)
    I have a new flatmate who is from Ukraine.

    I have no idea what it is like at all? It would be good to know a bit about it...

    Is it rich or poor? What is the weather like? Is the culture quite Western and modern?

    Thanks for any replies!
    Woman?

    It is a nice place if you are in Kiev or Odessa, not been outside of those cities. The women are beautiful, the weather is great (actual seasons) but the politics and law enforcement is corrupt as hell.

    The country is both rich and poor, I would say it is like most Eastern European countries and the culture is traditional with a slight Western influence although not that much, they still have a majority of values. Seriously though I love the country and I really want to go back soon and see more of the country
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    (Original post by David9)

    Also how much Russian is spoken there? And does the Ukrainian language differ much from Russian? I understand that both languages are written using the same alphabet.
    .
    (Original post by oldham_fran)

    I only understand the basics of each language so I can't give you an accurate answer as to how much Russian a Ukrainian could understand (or vice versa), perhaps ukr-nffc can go into further detail.
    As oldham_fran said, the majority of Russophone Ukrainians are in the East and South, with there being a high number of ethnic Russians in both the east and Crimea.

    I studied some aspects of Ukrainian language and culture whilst at SSEES and the figures are quite interesting:

    In terms of ethnicity (as of 2001), roughly 78% of people identified themselves as ethnically Ukrainian, the rest being Russian and other minorities. In the same polls, on 67% states they spoke any Ukrainian at all - so 14% approx of ethnic Ukrainians spoke no Ukrainian at all.

    The figures for language are rougly:

    Ukrainian speaking Ukrainians (first or main language) - 45%
    Russian speaking Ukrainians (1st or main) - 35%

    The rest are Russian, and other minority languages

    Language has another dimension - especially when we look at those who speak the Ukrainian/Russian creole language, surzhik - which roughly straddles both groups of ethnic Ukrainians (Ukrainophone or Russophone)

    It terms of how the languages are similar - i have always found that most, if not all Ukrainians understand/speak Russian whereas Russians are by and large unable to understand Ukrainian.

    I, personally can understand Russian to a certain degree and the same with Polish.

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