One of the best things about being English speaking in any non-English speaking part Europe is the readily available English language press. From Iceland to Moldova you can pickup newspapers, guides and menus in something close to English. Ukraine (or at least Kiev) is no exception and actually has some pretty decent publications. The Kiev Post is the most comprehensive and freely available paper but it’s a little heavy on the politics. I mean, I studied European Politics but the Kiev Post even bores me with it’s cover-to-cover politics. Yes, this place has problems and yes, it’s election time but 3 articles per week on the Orange ‘revolution’ is a little excessive. So, for some sharp wit and blunt but honest journalism I suggest readers also pick up the weekly ‘What’s on’ guide. The Editor, a Scot called Neil Campbell usually kicks of with some amusing and intelligent commentary and as well as telling you where you should be all week, it also has a bunch of good article on local life.
Here’s the opening article from the 02/2010 edition, published without permission from ‘What’s on Kiev’ …I hope they don’t sue me.
“So the second round of the presidential elections are looming, and the whole nation is stuck between a rock and a hard place. While it seems abhorrent that Yanukovych could become the president of this great nation, it seems likely now that he will. And the alternative – the woman who shone like the nation’s angel only 5 years ago – has now proven that in all actuality she’s not much better. If I were able to vote here, I have to say I would find it very hard to choose between the two. I couldn’t in good conscience vote for either of them, and the only thing that would force my hand in favour of Tymoshenko would be just to keep Yanukovych and his Russian-leaning oligarchs out. This thought was somewhat reinforced recently, when a Ukrainian friend told me he was going to vote for Tymoshenko because he would be embarrassed to have Yanukovych as the head of state.
Quick-witted as I am, it didn’t take me long to figure out exactly what he was meaning. There’s no doubt Yanukovych will do well with the Russians, mainly because he will simply do what they tell him. But could you imagine him sitting down for intricate negotiations with Obama, Brown or Sarkozy? That would just be embarrassing. I mean, I know there was a time when drunken oafs ran this part of the world (from Stalin all the way through to Brezhnev and beyond) but that time has surely passed. Surely there’s no way the great people of Ukraine can be represented to the nations of the world by this gormless gorilla – the man who will be drunkenly handing out sweeties to other heads of state at solemn ceremonies, and whom, if ever hit by an egg again, will be so inebriated he will mistake the soft impact for that of a speeding bullet and collapse comatose on the ground. It would be an injustice for the Ukrainian people to have him as their global representative. The people of this country are intelligent and articulate, and they have the right to a head of state who is the same. Yanukovych is neither. Tymoshenko may be many things, in fact she is many things, and you wouldn’t use the word ‘good’ to describe most of them, but as least she is presentable, sober (mostly, we think), articulate and intelligent. Even if it’s only for the reason of how either would make the country look to the outside world, Tymoshenko has to be the better bet.”
See: What’s on Kiev for more.
PS, I realise that I just complained about too much politics in the Kiev Post and then posted a political article from What’s on but whatever, I’m grateful to both of them.