Lviv Opinion

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.

Forecast: Lviv’s employment market in 2010

Issue 20, January 2010.
Ukraine suffered a severe blow across the employment market in 2009. Unemployment skyrocketed, underemployment was rampant, many employees began entering other employ- ment spheres, and a vast number of employees were living in fear that their heads would be next on the chopping block. Those that managed to hang on often saw salary cutbacks, bonuses slashed, shortened work days and wages that were not paid out in a timely fashion.

Lviv Racing to Meet Euro 2012 Deadline

Issue 18, November 2009.
This month will see Euro 2012-related activity in Lviv rech a fever pitch as city officials work to meet UEFA’s tough 30 November deadline. In April 2007 Ukraine and Poland were designated as sites to co-host the UEFA European championships in 2012. This decision is monumental on two fronts. First, it marked the first occasion since the fall of the Berlin wall 20 years ago where the UEFA championships would be held in two countries formerly belonging to the communist camp. Second, for Ukraine still a fledgling democracy belonging neither to the EU nor NATO, it was one of the biggest single achievements since it gained independence 18 years ago. The challenge now is to make sure Lviv is selected as a host city.