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‘By Launching a Direct Military Attack Russia Forced Ukrainians to Get Off the Fence’

03 June 2017 - 00:44 467
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Peter Dickinson, veteran Ukraine-watcher, publisher, analyst, journalist, tells Bohdan Nahaylo how the country has changed before his eyes.

Hello and welcome to Ukraine Calling, your weekly review of what’s been happening in Ukraine with a focus on a main issue. I’m Bohdan Nahaylo for Hromadske Radio in Kyiv, and here’s a look at some of the stories that were in the news this week.

FOCUS INTERVIEW: Peter Dickinson, veteran Ukraine-watcher, publisher, analyst, journalist, tells Bohdan Nahaylo how the country has changed before his eyes.

HEADLINES

CULTURE and MUSIC

LOOKING FORWARD

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FOCUS INTERVIEW: FOCUS INTERVIEW: Peter Dickinson, veteran Ukraine-watcher, publisher, analyst, journalist, tells Bohdan Nahaylo how the country has changed before his eyes.

Nahaylo: Welcome to our Focus in depth. I am speaking with Peter Dickinson. He is a well know figure on Kyiv scene and has been around for a long time, and not only in Kyiv. He is a Brit like myself. Born and educated in UK, who came to Ukraine. And I will ask him why he exactly stayed, but he’s done his bit to not only getting established but to contribute.  He is a producer of L’viv Today, for example. He is also Chief Editor and producer of Business Ukraine, a very influential and quality business publication. But most recently he shot to new fame because he’s been writing a series of articles, particularly for the Atlantic Council, in which he offered his opinions and thought where Ukraine is at and what issues she needs to face up to. He has won an award for that. I will ask him to explain all about it in a second. He has become one of the leading journalists and writers that people get note of and listen to not only in Ukraine but also outside of it.  I am very happy to welcome today to Ukraine Calling, a fellow Brit Peter Dickinson.

Dickinson: Thank you. It was very generous introduction.

Nahaylo: Let’s begin by asking you to give a short little description of yourself. You are a Brit and how did you end up in Ukraine?

Dickinson: My journey to Ukraine began at the end of my university career. I am a graduate of Liverpool University and in my final graduation year I had applied to Foreign Office. One of the projects I was considered for was a one year project in Ukraine, which at that time was a very unknown entity to me.

Nahaylo: What did you study in the UK?

Dickinson: History.

Nahaylo: History and politics, like myself.

Dickinson: The fascinating useless degree.

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Peter Dickinson and Bohdan Nahailo in a Hromadske Radio's studio //
Peter Dickinson and Bohdan Nahailo in a Hromadske Radio’s studio

Nahaylo: What do you mean useless? We are here and we are working.

Dickinson: What I mean it does not work sometimes. Ukraine to me was very much a lottery. It was not something that I have initially chosen. But the position itself looked quite exciting. I thought it was an opportunity to get some diplomatic experience. It was Embassy managed project with British Council and I spent 1997-1998 in L’viv. Which at that time was absolutely different from L’viv of today. The tourist L’viv that we know now…it was very isolated, very limited and very Soviet city.

Nahaylo: Provincial?

Dickinson: Extremely so. The feel of L’viv now is that it’s the closest city to Europe. I would say that is one of the most European cities on the continent. 

Nahaylo: You were in L’viv, but obviously you travelled to Kyiv.

Dickinson: Yes, I travelled a lot. The job required a lot of traveling. I was a representative for the Western Ukraine for the British Council and travelled extensively though the region. It was a wonderful opportunity in that sense to really get a flavour for different parts of the countries and also interact with different business and government communities.

Nahaylo: What was that you discovered in Ukraine then? Was it a surprise? Was it something that you expected? Something that you dreaded? Or was it simply true?

Dickinson: I should say that I came with a very little prior knowledge. As somebody who studied a lot of European history I knew very little about this part of the world and about Ukraine, in particular. So I did not have a well-developed set of preconceived ideas about what I am going to confront. Certainly what I did expect was a lot bleaker picture than what I met. I was fascinated by the wealth of culture here, by the cosmopolitan intelligence. It did not surprised that people were smart but that they were in many ways more European than I am.

Nahaylo: Exactly. I want to ask you. You sensed that there was Europeaness about them.

Dickinson: Yes. Even in those days, when the shadow of Soviet era was very long, even then it amazed and fascinated me that people, my friends, my colleagues, had a much broader knowledge of the European culture: film directors, literature, art, — than I had. And not only in a class school sense, but also in contemporary sense and terms. It brought to me how narrow the English cultural world is actually.

Nahaylo: At that time did you know Russian? How did you communicate to people?

Dickinson: It was interesting. When I arrived, I had no language skills. I set out to try to know at least the basics. But being based in L’viv, you would assume that I would learn Ukrainian. Actually, at that time my knowledge was so limited that I did not really make a distinction. My colleague simply said, “Which one would you like to learn?“ And chose Russian because of its international reach, and not expecting to stay here in a long run. So I started from learning and speaking Russian and it actually took a while. After a half of year I was conversing to an extent.

Nahaylo: At what stage did you feel that you also need to know some Ukrainian?

Dickinson: I think it is one of the things that I regret now. I have not developed my Ukrainian more, and I am thinking it is getting to the point that it is becoming not difficult professionally, but sort of socially awkward. I should speak better Ukrainian. But to be frank I never had an issue with it in Kyiv, and even in L’viv, where Ukrainian is by far the most widely spoken of the two languages. I always found that you can get by. Perhaps because there is more leeway given to the foreigners, because it recognized that they are from the outside of the culture.

Nahaylo: Are you suggesting it is tolerance in the society in that sense despite the image that is projected by some as “intolerant,” “neo-fascist,” “ethnocentric,” etc.

Dickinson: I always found it largely tolerant. There are areas in the Ukrainian society that can appear shocking to Western audiences, often in a sense that there is a tone deaf approach to politically correct issues, where things could be said are shocking. But in a broader sense, I find there is enormous tolerance. Frankly, sometimes too much tolerance.

Nahaylo: Let’s jump ahead. This was the late 1990s, right?

Dickinson: Yes.

Nahaylo: How would you compare Ukraine of today with that period? What has changed? Let’s not go into great details. We do not have time. Fundamentally, what do you think of the areas that have changed?

Dickinson: I think the biggest change is in terms of national identity without (Soviet) shadow I would say. I was in L’viv for that first year and then I came to Kyiv. We had a slight extension of this specific project, so we had a few months in Kyiv. That is when I decided to stay on because at that time L’viv was extremely provincial, whereas Kyiv was, and it is, a huge city. I sensed that it could be exciting times here. When I came to Kyiv the patriotism that I encountered in L’viv always seemed quite mild to me. When I came here it was unusual to meet somebody who was actually engaged in Ukrainian ideas. There was huge indifference towards ideas of national identity, patriotism. I found that quite surprising.

Nahaylo: So, this is even before the Orange revolution?

Dickinson: Oh yes. This is around the time of the millennium and I think the Orange Revolution was a real watershed in that sense, when for a lot of people, there was an awakening of ideas of Ukrainian national identity. And it planted a seed, not only here, but across the country. And you know, Euromaidan ten years on…

Nahaylo: But we had a disappointment, disillusionment and lost time in between. 

Dickinson: Certainly, but even so I think you had people coming through, whose expectations were there in a long term. In a way you have to lower your expectations about how far things could move. I was saying ‘remember how it was then at the time of the millennium,’ there was very little sense in my mind, in my experience. I would routinely encounter people who were indifferent. And I was not, I was engaged already then. I was excited about this country emerging on a European map after so long being in a shadow under foreign rule. And they weren’t. This has changed over time.

Nahaylo: So, you were here all that time and what impact did Maidan, the Euromaidan and the Revolution of Dignity have on you personally, not on the country? Did it affect your views of the country or expectations?

Dickinson: I think if we talk about the Orange Revolution, it was a shock for me. I can remember specifically being on Maidan, being amazed as it was so many people, who had these feelings clearly, who were motivated to come out. Although, it is now seen, you know compared to the horrors of the past three years, the tragedy, the death toll, the Orange Revolution is now seen as soft, basically like an extended rock concert. At the time, no one knew that, at the time there was wide-spread expectation that it would also be violent, that it could also be very brutal. But people were there, huge numbers. It was a shocking experience for me in a very good sense that this lack of engagement actually was not necessarily the true feelings for a lot of people. It was a defensive mechanism perhaps. Something they themselves did not really recognize until all of a sudden this moment arrived. So that for me personally was a real eye-opening…

Nahaylo: Eye-opening…reaffirmation of something you suspected…

Dickinson: It was beautiful, really. I can honestly say it was, maybe it sounds a bit too much to say this, but it was genuinely beautiful, it was very emotional.

Nahaylo: Yeats writes about Ireland ‘terrible beauty is born’, which I think is very applicable to Ukraine in many ways. This terrible beauty is always with us here. Anyways, the questions was the impact of Euromaidan and the Revolution of Dignity on you? Where did that take you to in your understanding of what this country is about?

Dickinson: I would bracket together 2014 as epiphany period, the Euromaidan itself and then the Russian invasion and particularly the whole volunteer wave that kind of swept across the nation and saved Ukraine, in my opinion. This for me was taking things a step further. What the Russians achieved by going for the military option, rather than this continuous soft power attacks, which have been going on ever since I’d been here, frankly. It is not a new thing. They’ve always been chipping away Ukrainian sovereignty, and seeking to have an influence, to contain Ukrainian notions of independence. But, by launching a direct military attack, hybrid military attack they forced Ukrainians to actually get off the fence. And a lot of people, who had been indifferent or haven’t really addressed the issue of what they really felt about it, had to make a choice. And the vast majority made that choice and said ‘you know what? Actually, I am Ukrainian’.

Nahaylo: OK, and at this stage, obviously there is a lot of sympathy and support in the outside world, but you and your friends in Britain, I presume you are still in touch with them, how were they responding? Were they interested? Did they care? Did they understand?

Dickinson: Frankly speaking, I find it quite difficult to converse about Ukraine or to engage with people outside of Ukraine about Ukraine, because it sounds so fantastical. You know, the idea that the largest nation in Europe, which a lot of them only know because they are aware of the fact that I live there, and they have no direct involvement or interest at. I sometimes listen to myself talking about it to people and I sound a bit like fantasist or something. Because these things are very hard to grasp. From the outside they sound literally incredible.

Nahaylo: And how did you get to the publication of L’viv Today?

Dickinson: That was kind of like completing a circle for me. As I said, I lived in L’viv when I first came in, then I came to Kyiv. I stayed on in Kyiv and became engaged in the publishing world. And I always maintained my link to L’viv. I went back there over years to see friends and to spend time there, which I would do regularly. The city really took off at the time of the Orange Revolution, or just afterwards. It noticeably regenerated, a sort of Renaissance almost. And I got to the point when I thought ‘this city, what it really needs now is some sort of English language publication.’ I managed to acquire the experience of running that sort of publication, so it seemed like a logical thing…

Nahaylo: And congratulations, you have just published your one hundredth issue…

Dickinson: Yes, one hundredth issue, yes. I mean I have two publications as well in Kyiv – Business Ukraine as well. L’viv today is amazing in a sense that it just keeps going on regardless of crisis, revolutions, wars. It is a really steady publication, and the people of L’viv have responded extremely positively to it, I think. Because they feel that it is something that the city needs.

Nahaylo: And Business Ukraine. Tell us a little bit about your other publication here in Kyiv.

Dickinson: Business Ukraine is distributed here in Kyiv monthly, that is more current t affairs publication. My publishing background, I was actually one of the founders of What’s On magazine which is currently out of print, hopefully will come back to it. But that ran for about fourteen-fifteen years. That was set up in 1999, so I went there after my time in the Embassy. And I ran that for around 7 years and then was invited to join a new project, which was Business Ukraine in 2007. It was set up by an American publishing group connected to the news core group. When the crisis of 2008 arrived, they exited the market, so I was in a position as chief editor to take on the title. So at that point I took the plunge and set up my publishing.

Nahaylo: Well, those are very needed products here. Let’s move on. In the meantime, recently you’ve become very prominent figure in a journalistic, publicist world, as far as writing about Ukraine is concerned. And it is partly because of this linkage I see with the Atlantic Council. How did you get involved with them?

Dickinson: I began writing for the Atlantic Council in the spring of last year. I think that there were few mutual contacts; they’ve always been active in this part of the world. They are very much engaged in post-Soviet sphere. I think with the Ukraine crisis continuing there was a need to get more voices and frankly there are not a lot of English language voices coming out of Kyiv. So I was very happy to engage with them.

Nahaylo: And can you tell listeners, who may not be aware, what did you win the award for?

Dickinson: Well, it was an article, I got the award (I think it was for the Ukraine Alert Service Article of the Year) for an article which was quite critical of the Western media coverage of the conflict in Ukraine. In particular, looking at the terminology that’s being employed throughout the period, and the ambiguity. And the failure to identify Russia as a party to the conflict and as the aggressor, which essentially playing into the hands of the Kremlin’s hybrid war strategy. Ambiguity is a core component part of that, so I addressed that quite forcefully. And there was a very positive reaction from Ukraine, not so positive from some of the correspondents, who felt like they were being unduly criticized. But I think that overall, it was something that a lot of people, you know, as with a lot good opinion pieces, usually is the sort of thing you read and say, ‘yeah, I was thinking that.’ And I think a lot of people had had that on their mind for a long time, like ‘these guys are letting us down,’ and the fact that that a vast majority of them are based in Moscow also raised significant question marks about their ability to objectively and accurately report on a war which Russia is participating in.

Nahaylo: And I look at your most recent publications: Eurovision, Victory for Ukraine, Fighting the Kremlin’s Fake News, How to boost the international image of Ukraine, Five things that impress me about Ukraine – all good stuff, and we’d like listeners to look at these, and these can be found on which site?

Dickinson: Well, the publication, I generally, apart from my own titles, I generally publish with the Atlantic Council. One of the benefits the Atlantic Council, that I found, is that they have an extremely good reach, materials are picked up elsewhere, also in the Ukrainian and Russian languages. Which has been a very rewarding experience for me, to see my articles in the Ukrainian and also in the Russian media, it has been quite interesting.

Nahaylo: Let’s spend our last few minutes on the most recent on, that has attracted a lot of attention, in which you suggest that the Ukrainians are their own worst enemy. And that this constant criticism of their conditions, of their situation, and their unhappiness, sort of getting at each other constantly, is much more of a threat than Putin himself.

Dickinson: Yeah, I guess it’s something I’ve always been aware of since I came to Ukraine. The glass half-empty mentality. The idea that if you talk with two Ukrainians about something, one will say that ‘it’s bad,’ and the other will say that ‘no, no, no, no, it’s much worse.’ The opposite of one-up-manship almost, and I always associated it with the sense of a genuinely, deeply traumatic, and in many respects, tragic history, and no one wants to be the sucker. They say ‘okay, we’re always getting the short end of the stick.’ The cynicism is a kind defense mechanism in that respect, which is totally understandable. But it is, as I said in the article, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you constantly talk things down, you will find that things don’t work out, you will find that people don’t have faith in you, and you will find, especially from the point of view of the country’s current situation, that investors will say ‘hold on, I just talked to some guy who told me some horror stories, I don’t think now is the time to invest, even though it looks good on paper:’ And so, I think if you look at a foreigner’s point of view, I’m not alone in this for sure, if you talk to the ex-pats here, I mean it’s a very engaging country, and we’re all, a vast majority, very enthusiastic and very engaged.

Nahaylo: Eurovision, a success for Ukraine, you say?

Dickinson: A huge success, I would say, I mean, it’s not the World Cup or the Olympics, it doesn’t get that much exposure, and it didn’t bring that many people, but there were hundreds of journalists here. I was monitoring the British press closely, and I was seeing in the peripheral vision other publication and certainly in Britain, there were not just about Eurovision per se, it was about Kyiv, about Ukraine, but it was overwhelmingly positive. This has always been another one of my favourite themes: if you bring people to see Ukraine they will come with low expectations and they will leave pleasantly surprised. And this is what we saw. This is one of the ways to boost the image of the country.

Nahaylo: Okay, Peter, to finish and maintain this positive note, you recently published a piece titled ‘Five Things that Impress Me about Ukraine.’ Can you remember off-hand what they were, share just in bullet point?

Dickinson: Well, let me think, I probably can actually. A slightly less serious one was that the trains are always on time, which as an Englishman is extremely impressive. Literally to the minute, they’re not fast, but they are insanely punctual, which is impressive. The volunteerism is certainly on the list, that amazed me, and I think it’s partly the by-product of a dysfunctional government frankly, but that’s a reality, but again, you can sit and do nothing, or you can take the action. And most of the good things I see have a significant element of that volunteerism in it, even the reforms in government.

Nahaylo: Are you encouraged by the younger generation here?

Dickinson: Hugely, hugely. I think the huge threat now is that the brain drain is a constant factor here and it’s got worse in the last few years because of the situation in the country. It’s not a matter of life or death for Ukraine, but it is a major issue for the country’s future, and they’ve got to keep young people. Not only what we have here in the capital is a huge, very European city, but if you go to regional capitals, they have to make life attractive for young people there.

Nahaylo: And last, but not least, any topics you plan on writing for soon, or projects you want to work on, are you particular interested in anything at the moment?

Dickinson: Tourism is something I would like to explore a little bit more, particularly people who are doing interesting thing in the tourism sector. I think Ukraine has huge potential there. We’ve got the EU visa-free regime now in place, and of course, is about Ukrainians traveling to Europe, exploring the EU. But of course as people interact, that will build bridges and relationships. I think there’s huge scope for Ukraine there, and it’s not just Kyiv, L’viv, Odesa, it’s Kamianets’k-Podilski, it’s the Dniper, it’s the Carpathians. There’s a whole range of places that can develop there, there’s health tourism, etcetera. And so, that will be a really interesting area to develop, and again, it would boost the country’s image, and bring people here.

Nahaylo: Well, Peter, I think we covered a lot of ground. I want to remind our listeners that we have been talking to Peter Dickinson who is a veteran Ukraine-watcher, publisher, analyst, journalist, etcetera, etcetera, but who has really come into his own, particularly in recent months with his percipient analytical pieces, and sort of reaching the parts that other journalists and commentators don’t. I think Brits will understand what I’m getting at. Thanks, Peter.

Dickinson: Thanks for having me.

Nahaylo: Cheers.

Dickinson: Cheers.

Headlines

EU-Ukraine Association Agreement Ratified, 30 May 2017

The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement was ratified by the Netherlands on Tuesday May 30th. It was the last EU country to ratify the agreement signed back in 2014

Just after the Dutch vote, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, “Today’s vote in the Dutch senate sends an important signal from the Netherlands and the entire European Union to our Ukrainian friends: Ukraine’s place is in Europe.”

Ukraine’s President Poroshenko said, “This is the guarantee of our freedom, independence and territorial integrity. Europe is our civilizational choice.”

Ukraine Calling listeners will remember this Agreement was signed after the Revolution of Dignity. Most EU States ratified the document, including the Dutch Parliament back in 2015. But a group of Dutch citizens called for a referendum on the issue, and the treaty was rejected by a slim majority of the 32.2% of the population which voted. But the PM, Mark Rutte, found a compromise and got the Senate to vote in favour of the Agreement. So, after this delay, a major victory for Ukraine, and a significant loss for Putin.

EU Commissioner criticizes targeting of anti-corruption NGOs

Ukraine’s association with the EU is of course not just about benefits, like visa free travel, but also responsibilities and commitments.  A top EU official reminded Ukraine of this while visiting Kyiv.  On 1 June EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn criticized a recent law targeting nongovernmental organisations investigating state corruption, and urged greater independence for the agency charged with exposing graft, NABU. “The EU is happy to provide assistance but we also expect Ukraine to deliver results,” he added.

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Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce settled the dispute in Ukraine's favour //
Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce settled the dispute in Ukraine’s favour

Ukraine Wins Gas War Against Russia in Stockholm

There was more good news for Ukraine. This week Ukraine won a major case in the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. The tribunal ruled against Russia, and in Ukraine’s favour. The Russian State Owned energy company Gazprom moved for arbitration back in June 2014. It was about the 2009 Russia-Ukraine gas agreement, signed by then Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, which included a ‘take or pay’ clause. Gazprom was arguing that Naftogaz Ukraine had agreed to purchase a certain amount of gas every year, and therefore was required to pay for that amount, whether they actually purchased it or not; and that Ukraine owed them $45.7 billion, which is about half of the country’s GDP.

Ukraine’s gas company Naftohaz rejected the claim, and filed a counterclaim. Under the leadership of a new CEO Andriy Kobolev, named as one of Forbes top 40 under 40, the Ukrainian energy company alleged that Russia was overcharging Ukraine. After years of back and forth, the dispute was finally settled in Ukraine’s favour. The Tribunal decided that Naftohaz Ukraine was entitled to a market-reflective adjustment of the price formula. Ukraine’s President Poroshenko said that Moscow had lost its opportunity to use gas as an instrument of political pressure and blackmail.

Putin in Paris

Ukraine figured during Russian President Putin’s trip to Paris this week. The new French president Emmanuel Macron accused Russian state media of spreading ‘fake news’ and ‘propaganda’ against him during the May presidential election. He did this while standing next to Putin in a joint press conference at Versailles. Macron also said, “If we don’t have a frank and sincere dialogue, which at times, obviously, leads to disagreements, we will not advance on the subject of Ukraine, nor the subject of Syria.” The new French president supports the continuation of sanctions against Russia.

Another tempest erupted when Putin called Anna Yaroslavna “Russian Anne.” The 11th century princess was born in Kyiv, then capital of the Kyivan Rus’ principality. Her father, Prince Yaroslav, married her to the King Henry 1 of France. She became queen consort of France and later regent during the minority of her son, Philip 1 of France.

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Meanwhile, in Moscow: a sample of viral social network picture //
Meanwhile, in Moscow: a sample of viral social network picture

CNN and other media outlets reported that Putin’s remark was seen as an attempt to blur the lines between Ukrainian and Russian history, and the twitter storm that followed. 

The War

The OSCE reported a 45% increase in heavy shelling in Ukraine’s war zone this past week. In Krasnohorivka alone, 29 buildings were destroyed, among them a hospital and a school. Nine civilians were injured, 6 women and 3 men. One Ukrainian soldier was killed, and 32 wounded.

Attempt in Kyiv to kill pro-Ukrainian Chechen

And in Kyiv, on 1 June, there was an attempt to assassinate another foe of the Putin regime. The victim was Russian citizen Adam Osmaev, who had earlier been accused in Russia of plotting an assassination attempt against the Russia President and who has been leading a Chechen volunteer group fighting on the Ukrainian side in the Donbas. The would-be killer is reported to have posed as French journalist and managed to fire at and wound Osmaev before being shot and seriously wounded by Osmaev’s wife.

Cardinal Husar Passes Away

Ukraine lost a spiritual leader this week. Cardinal Lubomyr Husar died on 31 May, at the age of 84. He had served as Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church from 2000 until 2011, when he stepped down to make room for a younger leader. He remained active both in the church and civic life, was a founding member of the 1 December group of leading intellectuals that formed during the 2013-2014 Euromaidan protests. On 1 December 2013 Cardinal Husar took to the stage to address the crowd despite freezing temperatures. He said, “If you want to live in a normal country, and pass it on to your children and grandchildren – we must do good.” (Якщо хочете жити у нормальній державі, передати її дітям і внукам — чинімо добро.)

Among Cardinal Husar’s achievements was moving the seat of the Ukrainian Catholic Church to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

CULTURE

Arsen Savadov Exhibition

This exhibition, which is showing at the Art Ukraine Gallery in Kyiv, depicts situations that could exist only in a dream. A still life shows bottles of Chanel perfumes ready to serve as Molotov cocktails, perched on the rubble of Maidan. In another painting there’s a morose Harlequin with a violin, seated under a grove of birch trees, with showers of lozenges drifting down like leaves. Yet another work is an orange volcano exploding on the canvas with blue birds and cherubs and grasshoppers being scattered in all directions.

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Gulliver’s Dream by Arsen Savadov  //
Gulliver’s Dream by Arsen Savadov

These are some of the surreal images that remain with you after a viewing of Arsen Savadov’s latest solo exhibition of paintings, leaving you with the disturbing, uneasy feeling that you have when just woken from a dream. One of the first paintings is, in fact, titled “Gulliver’s Dream” and lends its name to the whole exhibition. A sleeping giant tied down to the ground with little strings and….pencils. A metaphor to comment on Ukraine? or on the role of art and music?

Arsen Savadov is recognized as an important Ukrainian contemporary artist, who attracted critical attention already in the late 1980s, a part of the trans-avantguard movement. In his earlier projects he also worked more with photography and often succeeding in provoking and shocking audiences. For example, his well-known photography series from 20 years ago, titled “Donbass Chocolate”.

And now the latest solo exhibition draws on many aspects of classical painting, and includes allusions to Bruegel, Dali, to music, and to well-known symbols in literature. An exploration of the role of art and beauty in life.

Savadov commented on his exhibition, saying: “We are all disappearing, and the traces of our emotions remain in these images, imprinted on the canvases. Only the emotions and the captured dreams remain.”

MUSIC

There’s a new band in Kyiv. They’re called Vasiian Bapasniak, a name that’s made up of fragments of the band members’ names. And they call themselves a project rather than a band. In case you haven’t had a chance to hear them, here’s their song called, Planet Love. Enjoy!

LOOKING FORWARD

Next week Oksana Smerechuk will bring you a new feature interview. And we’ll be following the headlines for you, as always. Tune in again next Friday for a new episode. And we’d love to hear from you. Write to us at [email protected]. I’m Bohdan Nahaylo for Hromadske Radio in Kyiv. Thanks for listening.

Interview transcribed by Larysa Iarovenko, Nykole King, Ilona Szieventseva, Max Sviezhentsev. Headlines by Marta Dyczok, Culture, by Oksana Smerechuk. Music selected by Marta Dyczok. Sound engineer Anna Kirishun. Web support Kyrylo Loukerenko.

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