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Kyiv, Ukraine

Kyiv, Ukraine: The City of Domes and Demons from the Collapse of Socialism to the Mass Uprising of 2013-2014

Roman Adrian Cybriwsky
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  • Book Info
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Book Description:

    The unrest and violence in the Ukraine this year have shocked the world, and the long-term future of Ukraine remains troublingly uncertain. This book demonstrates how the Ukraine reached this turbulent point through a focus on the difficulty of Kiev's transition from socialism to market democracy. Roman Adrian Cybriwsky delves deeply into the changing social geography of the city, recent urban development, and critical problems such as official corruption, inequality, sex tourism, and the heedless destruction of the city's historical architecture-all difficulties that have contributed incrementally to Ukrainian citizens' anger against their government.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2340-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. A Note about Transliteration
    (pp. 15-16)
  2. Preface and Acknowledgements
    (pp. 17-26)
  3. 1 Far from Heaven
    (pp. 27-54)

    When Kyiv is stripped of its roads, buildings, bridges, and other man-made features and is seen from up high in satellite view, it is said to resemble the face of God in profile. At least that is the central argument of a somewhat wacky but surprisingly interesting 2010 book entitledKyiv: Sviaschennyi Prostir(Kyiv: Sacred Space) by two environmentalists/landscape architects: V.V. Kolin’ko and H.K. Kurovskyi. The photograph at the start of the book is quite striking in this regard: we see very clearly the face of a handsome man faithfully outlined by the combination of the right bank of the...

  4. 2 The Missing Museum of the History of the City of Kyiv
    (pp. 55-66)

    We begin with a tangled story about a wonderful museum that had the misfortune of becoming homeless. It is the Museum of the History of the City of Kyiv. I began to learn its story soon after I arrived in Kyiv for this project and ventured on a first outing. I had been there years earlier during a short visit to the city with my late father, and now I wanted to study the museum in detail as I began to immerse myself in any- and everything that I could learn about Kyiv. A handsome English-language guidebook that sells well...

  5. 3 Sketches from the Capital
    (pp. 67-100)

    It is good to get high, so we climb Zamkova Hora (Castle Hill), a high promontory in the center of Kyiv, to reflect on a city rich with history and promise, and on the predicaments of today. The hill is also known as “Lysa Hora,” (“Bald Mountain”). From there we gain a panorama of the city and various places that we will discuss in the pages ahead, as well as have a close-up look at the hill itself and its peculiarities. An entire book can be written about this place. Indeed, the hill has inspired many: Nikolai Gogol (1819-1898) used...

  6. 4 Soviet Ways, Post-Soviet Days
    (pp. 101-128)

    During Soviet times, there was a likeness of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924), Russian revolutionary and founder of the Russian Communist Party and the USSR, in the center of virtually every city and town from the border with Poland and other East Europe satellite states in the west to the Pacific reaches of Siberia in the east. Many communities had multiple Lenins, as statues of him were also erected in front of schools, libraries, and other public buildings, and at factories, rail stations, and virtually everywhere else where there were Soviet citizens to pay homage. Vladimir Ilyich was a ubiquitous icon...

  7. 5 Historical Memory
    (pp. 129-150)

    The Soviet Union was adept at branding, and it changed the names of places under its control at will, most famously replacing certain czarist-period names with new names that honored the Bolshevik Revolution (Wanner, 1998, pp. 172-199). For example, in 1924 Petrograd (formerly St. Petersburg and named at first after the name saint of Peter the Great and then after the Russian czar himself) became Leningrad after Vladimir Lenin, the revolution’s main leader; in the same year Yekaterinburg, named after Catherine the Great, became Sverdlovsk to honor Bolshevik leader Yakov Sverdlov; and in 1925 Tsaritsyn, meaning “the czar’s city,” became...

  8. 6 The Center of Kyiv
    (pp. 151-188)

    Kyiv has two hearts, maybe three. The undisputed historical center of the city is the site of the old walled city of Prince Volodymyr the Great (r. 980-1015), and the site of the enlarged walled city that was put together during the long reign (1019-1054) of his son Yaroslav the Wise. This zone was the capital of ancient Rus and stood high on promontories above the Dnipro River. The main hill is today called Volodymyr’s Hill (Volodymyrska Hora) and the main thoroughfare is Volodymyr’s Street. There are some remains of an old gate to Yaroslav’s city called Zoloti Vorota (Golden...

  9. 7 A Geography of Privilege and Pretension
    (pp. 189-214)

    The wordmonsteris used in both Ukrainian and Russian to refer to intrusive new buildings that are built without neighborhood welcome. They rise up from the earth and devour the city, something like the monster Godzilla emerging from Tokyo Bay to wreak havoc on Japan’s capital. In Kyiv, the most aggressive monsters tend to be high-rises for rich people. They wreck history, historic cityscapes, and the natural environment, and impose themselves on existing infrastructure such as transportation or parking spaces, where they wreak havoc as well (Figure 7.1). They are built without reference to any overall city plan, in...

  10. 8 Landscapes of Struggle
    (pp. 215-252)

    Oksana Makar lived a difficult life and, at age 18, died a horrible death.43How she lived and how she died give insight to aspects of life among the poor in Ukraine, and perhaps also to special privileges enjoyed by the nonpoor. Put simply, this child of Ukrainian poverty and the social miseries that often accompany poverty had some questionable associations in her life, and in the end she was gang-raped by three young men and was then set afire and left to die. She survived for three weeks afterwards, but barely so, and then on March 29, 2012, succumbed...

  11. 9 “Suburbia”
    (pp. 253-268)

    I am not the first urbanist to write a book about a city and focus disproportionately on a small area in the historic center at the expense of a vast outer ring of urban development. The center always draws those who love cities, has more history, more variety, and more action per unit area, and disproportionately distinguishes the city from other cities. But the zones beyond the center are important, too, and we now turn to a profile of Kyiv’s “residential ring” and its changes in post-Soviet time (Kravets and Sovsun, 2012; Skubytska, 2012; Tyshchenko, 2012b). I write “suburbia” in...

  12. 10 Seamy Stories
    (pp. 269-290)

    No More Heroines?(note the question mark) is the title of a very interesting book about changing conditions for women in post-Soviet Russia (Bridger, Kay, and Pinnick, 1996; also see Engel, 2004). Even though it is about Russia and not Ukraine and is now more than a decade old, it applies to a very large extent to the experience of women in Ukraine as well, and still speaks to us today. The book makes a pithy comparison between the heroic image of women in the Soviet period and the unfortunate images that have emerged since the Soviet Union ended. The...

  13. 11 The Defenders of Kyiv
    (pp. 291-318)

    The title of this chapter and “Hero City” are terms that are not to be taken lightly, because in history the city has faced the worst of demons and many heroes have sacrificed their lives to defend it. The time of World War II is indelibly etched most strongly in the narrative of Kyiv, as the suffering at the hands of Nazi aggressors was unprecedented, and the defenders who fought against them in the “Great Patriotic War,” as the struggle is known in the Soviet/post-Soviet sphere, are remembered forever with reverence and thanks (recall Figure 5.2). These heroes encircled the...

  14. 12 Reflections
    (pp. 319-328)

    We begin with an inexpensive but telling souvenir that I once brought home from Kyiv. It is a work of junk art which may be legally exported from Ukraine (as it says explicitly, tongue-in-cheek on the back), and is printed on a small block of “ecologically clean wood” (as it also says on the back). The front is an image of Ukrainian faces in shades of white and grey drawn against a gloomy black background. In the center is a familiar portrait of a young Taras Shevchenko, the beloved “bard of Ukraine,” representing the heart and soul of the nation....

  15. Postscript
    (pp. 329-336)

    With the situation changing so rapidly in Ukraine as I write this from Kyiv in mid-March, 2014, the best option for current information is this epilogue. Instead of repeating what has been widely reported in the global media about the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych from the presidency, the brazen Russian aggression in Crimea and the march of Soviet-like propaganda that is being used to justify it, and the escalating tug of war over Ukraine between Russia and the West, I will focus on updates about the specific people and places in Kyiv that were most prominently mentioned in the previous...