Lion Awards - The best of Lviv
Lion Awards - The best of Lviv
2009 has been an exciting and challenging year in Lviv which has seen the West Ukrainian capital named as Ukraine’s City of Culture before receiving less welcome international headlines in November as the centre of a brief swine flu panic. Despite a general global economic downturn which has hit all of Lviv’s key EU trade partners hard,
2009 has seen more and more international companies looking to invest in the region and establish Lviv offices, with the tourism and outsourcing sectors proving particularly attractive. International carriers including Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines have added Lviv to their list of destinations in 2009, marking a symbolic step for Lviv Airport towards an increasing role as a regional air travel hub. Meanwhile, plans for the new-look terminal building
have been approved and an international construction group chosen to handle the massive building works that when completed will transform Lviv Airport from a post-Soviet backwater into a leading regional air hub. Elsewhere in the city work continues on Lviv’s Euro 2012 stadium. Culturally 2009 has been a hectic year with Lviv’s ever-growing annual festival and public holiday programme providing regular highlights which have included the colourful ‘Ethnovir’ multi-cultural festival this summer and such delicious carnivals as Chocolate Day in spring.
With Lviv widely viewed as a crucial battleground in the current race for the Ukrainian presidency, the ongoing election campaign has been felt throughout Lviv society in the latter half of the year, and it came as no surprise that few of the nation’s leading patriotic politicians failed to attend the city’s annual Ukrainian language book festival in September and the high-profile international investment forum held in October at the five-star Rixos Hotel in Lviv Oblast’s Truskavets spa resort. Sporting highlights of the past twelve months have included the emergence of a headline-grabbing and decidedly glamorous Leopolitan world kickboxing champ with a difference, while fun innovations like the appearance of a bright and cheery tourist train have added to the street-level tourist-friendly feel of Ukraine’s museum city. The team at Lviv Today has enjoyed bringing you the best of life in Lviv over the past twelve months. We would like to congratulate all of this year’s Lion Award winners and thank them for having made their contribution to making Lviv a great place to live. Wishing readers a Happy New Year and good luck in 2010!
Event of the Year : Lviv finally confirmed as official Euro 2012 Host City
After over two years of doubt and uncertainty Lviv officials received the news they had been waiting for and dreaming of in early December when a meeting of the UEFA Euro 2012 organising committee confirmed that the West Ukrainiancapital would be one of four Ukrainian cities to host matches during the summer 2012 championships. Lviv will join Kharkiv, Donetsk and Kyiv as host cities, with the Ukrainian capital set to host the final itself in early July 2012. It is thought that Lviv will share group stage games with Kyiv. The news that Lviv has now been confirmed as a Euro 2012 destination is expected to serve as a boost to the city’s investment profile and provide added incentives for those currently eyeing the region. Key projects that are now likely to appear more appealing than ever include the city’s stadium complex development and airport reconstruction, while the news that Lviv will now definitely be a venue for Euro 2012 is also likely to encourage five-star hoteliers to push for hotels in the city. PR and branding efforts will now intensify, with city officials set to unveil Lviv’s official Euro 2012 logo (pictured above courtesy of Lviv City Council) and prepare to sell Lviv to a growing international audience. Lviv Today would like to congratulate everyone who has been involved in promoting Lviv’s bid and wish them the best of luck as the city prepares itself for its big international debut in two and a half year’s time!
Top Sports Personality: Glamorous kick-boxing world champion Olena Ovchinikova
Female MMA fighter Olena “The Hunter” Ovchinikova was born in Dnipropetrovsk but came to Lviv as a youngster to develop her sporting career and now fights for Lviv club ‘Uniongym’. Despite still being an undergraduate she has already amassed an impressive array of titles in the often mocked but nevertheless tough-as-coffin-nails world of female combat, and this year shot to national recognition when the 22 year old became world champion by defeating Moroccan rival Iman Chairi Chabalou in a bout watched by her growing legions of Lviv fans. Since taking the world title Olena has become a media sensation, with her feminie grace and photogenic appeal catching the public’s imagination and serving as fuel for many a subservient male fantasy. Olena even appeared as an elegant moll in a recent pop video from Ukrainian hip hop star Tartak (main picture) demonstrating that she is a kick boxing world champ with a uniquely durable media appeal that goes well beyond the boundaries of hardcore fight fans. We expect to see much more of Olena in the coming year, both inside and outside the ring.
Anniversary of the Year: 40 years reunion of FC Karpaty’s USSR Cup team
Lviv has much to boast about from stunning architectural pearls to a wealth of cultural treasures and the most enticing cafe society this side of Vienna. One thing Lviv does not have is a history of football success. Despite decades of struggle in Soviet and post-Soviet times Lviv’s talisman side Karpaty have one solitary success to their name – a swashbuckling 1969 Soviet Cup victory which is still fondly remembered by many local fans. This year veterans of the 1969 Karpaty team where brought together for an emotional reunion which attracted much regional media attention – not least because it was marked by the presentation of a replica of the Soviet Cup – the original now resides in a Moscow bank vault.
International Arrival: Lufthansa opens regular Munich – Lviv route
April saw festivities in Lviv’s House of Scientists as local dignitaries and representatives of German air carrier Lufthansa celebrated the opening of a new route linking the capital of West Ukraine with the airline’s southern hub in Munich. The arrival of Lufthansa flights was a significant symbolic step in plans to develop Lviv’s unrivalled geographical location and turn the city’s modest post-Soviet airport facilities into a state-of-the-art regional hub. With
the arrival of Lufthansa (and later on in 2009 of Turkish Airlines, which is now offering flights drom Lviv to Istanbul) Lviv now boasts more international carriers than any other regional Ukrainian airport.
Best Exhibition: ‘Shevchenko – Return to Ukraine’ at Lviv Art Palace
2009 was another bumper year for Lviv art gourmets, but among the many Ukrainian and international arts happenings to brighten the cultural calendar one stood out for its poignant patriotic ambience. ‘Shevchenko – Return to Ukraine’ featured both literature and a range of original artworks by national bard Taras Shevchenko produced during his period of exile in Kazakhstan and loaned to Lviv’s Art Palace by the Kazakh Art Museum in Astana. This was the first time that these paintings and drawings by Ukraine’s definitive national hero have gone on display in his native land, making this event a memorable one for all those who attended.
Vision of the Year: Lviv’s New International Airport
The two big stumbling blocks to Lviv’s bid to host Euro 2012 matches have long been the city’slack of an international class stadium and airport, so it was with a mix of euphoria and relief when plans for the new Lviv Airport terminal building were confirmed in summer 2009. The plans, drawn up by Dutch engineering and consultancy giants Tebodin, will see Lviv become a regional air travel hub and allow for further expansion well beyond June 2012. Lviv has historically been an important crossroads and it is hoped that the new airport will allow the city to take advantage of its geographical location and attract a wide range of international air carriers.
Visitor of the Year: Austrian President Heinz Fischer
In recent years nostalgia for Lviv’s Habsburg heritage has become extremely fashionable throughout the city and the good-natured visit of Austrian President Heinz Fischer in July 2009 demonstrated that this renewed love affair is by no means merely one-way traffic. President Fischer enjoyed a friendly and warm welcome in Lviv and appeared to be particularly impressed by the traditional welcome he received from Lviv ladies in folk costume. In the Lviv City Council visitor’s book Mr. Fischer made the following entry: “As President of the Austrian Republic I am very happy to visit Lviv, a city which is so closely connected to Austria. I wish the citizens of beautiful Lviv the best of luck as they head towards greater European Integration”. Thanks, President Fischer!
Best Sports Event: Eurofan 2009 football championship
Lviv’s efforts to prepare for Euro 2012 have not always gone according to plan, but there were no complaints in summer 2009 from the 16 teams of fans from across Europe who gathered in the city to battle it out in the third annual Eurofan championship. This event, which is unique to Lviv, brings teams made up of fans from Europe’s top clubs who compete in a knock-out competition to identify the continent’s most talented supporters. Teams represented this year included Liverpool, Zenit, Schalke 04, Inter Milan, Athletico Madrid and the Welsh national team. The eventual winners were the supporters’ team from Glasgow Rangers, who triumphed over their Lviv hosts 4-1 in the final, but the real winner was Lviv, which hosted a fun and entertaining event.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Guardian of Lviv culture Boris Voznitskyi
Born in 1926 Boris Voznitskyi has been director of Lviv Art Gallery since 1962 and is a living Lviv legend who has arguably done more than any other single figure to bolster Lviv’s reputation as the historical repository of the Ukrainian national idea. Such are his contributions to the preservation and celebration of Lviv culture that Mr. Voznitskyi has been honoured with many state awards including the Hero of Ukraine medal. He is perhaps best known for his efforts to protect and preserve the region’s historical castles and palaces, many of which have faced a struggle to remain in reasonable condition over the past few decades of independence due to the disappearance of state funding. He is credited with having been the driving force behind the renovation of Oleskiy Zamok, birthplace of legendary Polish King Jan II Sobieski, and is perhaps best known for his efforts to return the Lviv region palace and castle at Zolochiv (pictured) to their former glory. Despite his advanced years Mr. Voznitskiy remains a tireless campaigner and has been active throughout 2009 with various arts and cultural heritage projects.
Monument of the Year: Lviv’s Pushkin Bust
Since the 2004 Orange Revolution post-Soviet historical revisionism and memory wars have gripped the country, and as a result Ukrainians have gotten into the habit of erecting monuments to historically contentious figures. Amid the fuss caused by efforts in West Ukraine to honour the heroes of the Ukrainian independence movement and counter-moves in Southern and Eastern Ukraine to commemorate the giants of the Tsarist imperial past there have been moments of touching humanity like the July 2009 unveiling of a new bust to Russian national bard Pushkin in Lviv. Two previous busts of the famous writer have been the subject of attacks by nationalist vandals who claim that Pushkin is a symbol of Russian cultural imperialism, but this new monument (which is said to have been constructed to be vandal-proof) has yet to be defaced, making it a symbol of hope for Lviv’s cultural pluralism.
Tourist Attraction of the Year: The Wonder Train
New Year 2009 brought something completely new to Lviv - a bright and cheerful tourist train that offers guided tours of the city in a host of European languages! The city’s new arrival is known as the Wonder Train and its appearance on Lviv’s ancient cobbled streets has been a constant symbol of the city’s rising profile as a tourist destination. In the past few years Lviv has seen a growing number of carnivals, festivals and other fun events designed to make the city more tourist-friendly, but the arrival of the Wonder Train helped create a permanent holiday atmosphere around town and provided a much-need ed international service to the increasingly volumes of international visitors in Lviv.
Socialite of the Year: Yuriy Pankratov
Lviv’s society set seem to get more and more glamorous with each passing year as the dourness of the Soviet era and the kitsch bling-bling erotica of the post-Soviet period make way for more refined tastes. This year has seen a string of enthusiastic party people and local fashion icons battle it out for the title of ‘Socialite of the Year’, but few would argue that among tem all one man has stood out. Yuriy Pankratov has consistently been a bastion of good taste and social style for the past twelve months, rarely missing a major club opening or headliner party while maintaining a self-depreciating manner than many of the more self-satisfied members of the Lviv nightlife fraternity would do well to learn from. Whether he’s reclining with a cigar in hand or surrounded by a bevy of impossibly nubile blonde supermodels, Mr.Pankratov has been the life and soul of the party in 2009. We who are about to dance salute you, Yuriy.
Holiday of the Year: October Fest at Leopolis Hotel
When the first news of a flu outbreak in West Ukraine reached Lviv in late October there was widespread panicwith many cultural events cancelled at the last minute, but luckily the folks at Leopolis Hotel decided that there
was no reason to abandon plans to host Lviv’s first ever October Fest. The result was a little piece of Bavaria in the
heart of West Ukraine complete with overflowing mugs of beer, traditional Bavarian mountain music and Munich
Concert of the Year: Gogol Bordello at the Stare Misto Lviv Rock Festival
There have been many musical highlights to 2009 but none topped the irresistible for of world famous gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello (USA) when they headlined at the Second annual Stare Misto Lviv Rock Festival, which was held in June at Lviv’s Ukraina Stadium. Gogol Bordello are among the most challenging underground groups in the world and are famed for the sheer energy of their bizarre and compelling stage persona, which borrows heavily on Slavonic and gypsy folk traditions.
Clubland Arrival of the Year: Rafinade People Club
The most hotly-anticipated arrival on the Lviv clubland scene has undoubtedly been that of Rafinade People (1 Rudanskoho Street, + 38 032 261 61 68). This elegant and sumptuous new nightlife option opened its doorsto the clubbing public in December and proved an instant hit. The venue, which offers everything from world-class cuisine to strip club erotica, is designed in an elegant style that harks back to Paris at the time of Emperor Napoleon III and is expected to become a fixture among the city’s A-list in the coming months, bringing added sophistication to the burgeoning Lviv nightlife scene.