Ukraine SEP 2014 trip: In wait for war and peace

Draft ver. 1.2.3

SEP 2014 Ukraine travel report

Quick notes for R's public presentation about his recent sociological cum political trip to Ukraine.

(Editorial note: this post will be fully updated soon - sorry for the mess below.)

Ukraine - what and where's that? 

Quick intro for the non-Europeans in the audience about what to expect. Reference the map of the historical Ukrainian regions and why it was the Communists who helped Ukraine expand.

Travel map

Link to live map of R's Ukraine 2014 trip

Linguistic notes

The name of the country is "Ukraine" and not "The Ukraine". R uses the same convention in Polish: we travel "do Ukrainy" not "na Ukrainę". Same for Węgry, Litwa, etc. Łotwa and Estonia are ok in this regard already: one says in Polish "do Estonii", not "na Estonię".

Sentimental background

For R, his travels to Ukraine always evoke an odd feeling of homecoming: R's family hails from Borysław and a village near Przemyśl, while his girlfriend's family originates from villages near Drohobych (Дрогóбич) and Stanisławów (Івано-Франківськ). One of the reasons for this travel was to find her ancestors.

Antiquated, colloquial or regional Polish terms pacany, frajery, manatki {=baggage}, chłam (хлам, =clothes), konfiskata {=sales}, myto (митний, =customs), kordon, czubić się, opryszek, dziecięce igraszki (дитячі іграшки), voyak (The Good Soldier Švejk) are regular Ukrainian words, used in contemporary political debates, history or in ads. And the reverse is true: hodinnik (годинник, =watch) is standard Ukrainian, while zigarok is allegegedly used only in Hutzul etc. that is a Western Ukrainian regionalism.

Ukraine: the Borderland

The border betwen Ukraine and Poland is an EU (Schengen) border now

Poland: the land of denial
Empty buses to and from Ukraine: 7 people travelling to Ukraine, and only 3 back to Poland.
Smuggling on a bus
Black market: smuggling cigarettes and body armour (now legal).

Yatseniuk, the PM: if over 12 UAH/USD then banks would fail.
Show (Po)Roshenko chocolate.

Ukrainians puzzled why their neighbours do not make use of the favorable rate of exchange between PLN and UAH. Poles are afraid of the war, according to some hotel employees and R enquiries among friends.

Economy in a freefall

For example, in September 2014 it cost 7 EUR (116 hryvnia, UAH) to travel from Przemysl (Poland) to Lviv (Ukraine) by bus and also 7 EUR (120 hryvnia) to travel from Lviv to Odessa by an overnight train in the coupé class (with linen). The major mistake was to withdraw money from cash machines in small amounts: my German bank charged 7 euros for each withdrawal, on top of the low currency rate.

Since Jan 2014 there has been a 30% outflow of individual bank deposits. "Ekspress" newspaper writes about korumpirovanyich i niekompetentich fraieriv na czoli z Yatseniukiem. 18 banks under a temporary administration. Yatseniuk, the PM, said: if currency rate over 12 UAH/USD then banks would fail. It has long been over 14 UAH to USD.

The PrivatBank (Kolomoiski - explain his role) steals even payments for the train tickets. No confirmation code is being sent to railways. Only 400 mln EUR of bank private account holders bank guarantee money is left, needed 500 mln EUR. The fund has paid 500 mln EUR already in 2014. only 12 k EUR/person: mass bankrupcy predicted soon in Ukrainian business newspapers. Over 3 billion USD of gas debts to Russia. Plus 3 billion USD in Yanukovich era debt to Russia.

Ready to invest in Ukraine? PrivatBank offers 11.5% pa in dollar deposits.

Euromaidan leaders fail:
В липні 2014 проти Степана Івановича Кубіва порушено кримінальне провадження за фактом зловживання службовим становищем з метою наживи за махінації на посаді глави НБУ під час проведення рефінансування банків, що призвело до значного обвалу гривні.[6][7][8]
24 серпня 2014 колишній глава НБУ Степан Кубів затриманий в одному з елітних санаторіїв і доставлений до Києва для проведення слідчих дій.[9][10]
In July 2014 against Stepan Ivanovich Kubiv criminal proceedings on charges of abuse of office for profit by fraud as head of the National Bank at the time of refinancing banks, which led to a significant collapse of the hryvnia. [6] [7] [8]

August 24, 2014 the former head of the National Bank Stepan Kubiv detained in one of the luxury resorts and delivered to Kyiv for the investigation. [9] [10]

More info

She resigned on 18 August 2014. Chornovol said that "there is no political will in Ukraine to carry out a hard-edged, large-scale war against corruption."[38]

Hostels: 7 euros too.
R was offered sexual services for this price, as well.

Lviv aka Lwów aka Lemberg aka Leopolis

Lviv logos
Celebrate and value diversity.  [Photo of the Polish restaurant]

Battery was dead when arriving at the bus station. Usualy it is a problem, but here it turned into an opportunity.
Crazy nationalist maidanoviec met: "Slava Ukrainie. Geroyam slava! Slava Natsi! Smert voroham" (RT reports translated it as Heil!).

Very overbearing, zilching zigs off all: the pattern repeated elsewhere. R holding him back, but standing drinks in Kryivka, etc. His teeth broken by Berkut, free studies in Poland for all Ukrainians. Teeth and spine broken by Berkut. Went to prison for setting fire to a "wrong" Orthodox church.

Studies in Poland for free. His ultranationalism helps later.

Many Ukrainians study Polish. Three years at a Dom Polski enough to get the Karta Polaka, a "green card".

Example - Dniepro Polish-visa hopefuls Polish language students.
He: heating engineer. She: architect. She complains that church buildings only are constructed, and one needs connections and bribes to get proper work. After 3 years of study anyone can register for Pole's Card (Karta Polaka), they claim.
Polski Orzel Bialy in Lviv. Wymiana jezykowa: R as jedyny polak. Wizy przez Hindusow: polski konsul nie przyjmuje, wysyla do Hindusow. Witryna nie dziala. Albo wiza za zakupy: trzeba faktury polskie za 500 zl pokazac, to dostaje sie nowa. Biedronka visas.

Maly polak gazeta bring. Koscioly odnowione, ale msze po ukrainsku bo ksiadz ukrainiec.

Kryivka restaurant - first ATO soldiers met, handshake.

A Lebanese Palestinian student Ali talks about the Donbas referendum.
2014 hatred of the Western Ukrainians zapadenets. Fear, intimidation of patriotic Ukrainians.

Ibn Batuta given as R's nickname.

Ill toothless Ukrainian kicked out hospital.
He hated SS Galicia UPA. Told story of Kuznetsov, killed by UPA.
Amazingly pretty salsa girl perfect English makeup.

Westerners never go east of Kyiv as there is nothing there. Nie jada do Donbassu, bo brud i komunizm. Same for Easterners. East does not talk with West, also for language reasons. Strong myths or danergous stereotypes, perpetuated by politicians. R challenges them to meet one another.

Leftist Ania is based in Lviv. Helps organise the vulnerable sectors of society. Paid by Belgium Christians.  Speaks French etc. Leftists misunderstood in Ukraine as oligarchic Communist or separatists. Beaten in Maidan.

In Lviv very peaceful, but it can get dangerous:
15 września, niemal jednocześnie w trzech  obiektach Lwowa; na Centralnym Dworcu Kolejowym, w jednostce Gwardii Narodowej Ukrainy oraz w lwowskiej Izbie Handlowo – Przemysłowej odebrano anonimowe telefony z informacją, że zostały one zaminowane i wkrótce zostaną wysadzone w powietrze.

Lychakovski cemetery, ATO Ukrainian soldiers
Lychakov Cemetery: known by Ukrainians, few Polish do. Monumental propaganda by Polish like the Franco or Attaturk mausoleums. Now for ATO soldiers graves.

Lychakovski cemetery, ex Polish nationalist masoleum

Lviv history museum map show vs. Polish-side "standard" history map:

WWI propaganda by Axis Powers:
Germany and Austria fighters vs. the rest of Europe animals

Yavoriv: NATO exercises

Cancer lady beggar on bus. Many other ones: gypsies playing harmoshka etc. People kind-hearted: a collective culture of sharing.

Military base. Show Afghanistan
WWI propaganda by Russians:
Russian the real soldiers vs. enemy as incompetent

"international soldiers" monument: schizophrenic.

Vodka soldier UPA beggar with knife wielding it in public. Other voyaks poor, deject.
Afghan liberators ukraine monument. Ads for upa unso batallions. Polish take kids. Drunk Upa 3 gen guy, demands glasses, take oit knife. Drafted soldier despite Polish visa. Deject soldier, not home gone, despite kids wife.

Soldiers: UPA sergeant, plus the despondent ones.
Cool with me apart from UPA, drinks vodka. UPA insisting that he fights for me and extortion. R drinks with him: stronger head.
Visually a Shukhevich doppelganger.
Starts to act up.  Me buying cigs and vodka, telling them to cool down. A call from Lviv nationalist arsonist helps a bit. Dragged away by his subordinates, hovers around.

At end he shows how he kills the enemies vorohas with his officer's knife, in a one to one combat.

 Soldiers everywhere, militarization of civilian life

[Show recruitment photos]
NATO expansion till 2014

Hidden military impact of the Ukrainian war on Poland:

W ubiegłym roku obowiązkowe przeszkolenie wojskowo przeszło w Polsce 3 tys. osób, tym roku ok. 8 tys., a w przyszłym 15 tys. W dwóch kolejnych latach armia zamierza przećwiczyć aż po 39 tys. osób. Niektórzy już mówią o „cichej mobilizacji”. Oficjalnie przedstawiciele Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej zaprzeczają, by więcej przydziałów mobilizacyjnych miało związek z napięta sytuacją na Ukrainie.

Przydziałów mobilizacyjnych będzie coraz więcej Wezwań na ćwiczenia mogą się spodziewać ci, którzy przeszli zasadniczą służbę wojskową lub byli żołnierzami zawodowymi. Armia najbardziej jest zainteresowana osobami wykonującymi zawody techniczne. Wojsko chętnie sięga po kierowców z kat, C, elektryków czy spawaczy.

– W przypadku szeregowców, chodzi o osoby do 50 lat, w przypadku podoficerów i oficerów do 60 lat – wylicza mjr Wojciech Sukiennik.

Ćwiczenia mają się odbywać w jednostkach wojskowych i potrwają od jednego do 30 dni. Szeregowemu armia zapłaci za dzień ćwiczeń 70 zł, plutonowy dostanie 80 zł, podporucznik 110 zł.

Rejestry mobilizacyjne prywatnych pojazdów Szkolenia rezerwistów to nie wszystko. Armia uzupełnienia rejestry mobilizacyjne prywatnych pojazdów. Na takich listach mogą się znaleźć samochody prywatne, osobowo-terenowe z napędem na cztery koła, SUV-y, auta ciężarowe i autobusy. Ich właściciele, zgodnie z ustawą o powszechnym obowiązku obrony, mogą się spodziewać, że armia nałoży na nich obowiązek „świadczeń rzeczowych”.

Aidar in Amnesty International - war crimes:
[Show photo ad]
While hailed by many nationally as a committed fighting force, the Aidar battalion has acquired locally a reputation for brutal reprisals, robbery, beatings and extortion.

nearly all cases documented by Amnesty International the victims were subjected to beatings at the moment of capture and/or during interrogations, and either had to pay ransom for their release, or had possessions, including money, cars, telephones, and other valuables seized by the battalion members

Religion as a nation-making tool

[Photos of Yehova and other show]
[Photo of praying for ATO]

Four Orthodox religions at least.

Polish Catholic sex abuse priests sent to Ukraine: discuss.

Jehova witnesses everywhere.


UPA bastion. Many Polish killed by Ukrainians, see this article. Germans killed all in Drohobycz, in turn.
[Show photos, UPA again]


Polski kosciol. 1989 oddany. Spalony, matejko, gierymski witraze byly. Park nearby Bandera. Koscielny znak semper fidelis poloniae.

Two old ppl restored church (photo) by travelling nany times to moacow, writing literaturnaya gazeta, vatican. Secret names. In 1989 restored. Gorbachev met with Wojtyla. But other ppl took credit for it. She: pure Ukrainian. Attacked "why not cerkvia". Inscription original King 15 c. gave Latin christians from Russki kostel.
City museum: neglected heritage. If in London or France, thousands coming every day.
Bruno Schultz.

Franki aka Stanislavov

Mention the historical name. Now one of the most Ukrainian nationalist centers.
Explain Bandera and show the monuments.
Show magnets with Putin, Right Sektor.
Show the real one: Bunker, Kryivka in Lviv, Art 11.

City council stormed, now collectsfor Ato.
Great folk art. Neglected history. Seem to despise the non-Ukrainian legacy.


Sophisticated, rich city. Mafia undercurrents visible.

Odessa movers and shakers (they even have their own eponymous street, with three active synagogues, and dozens of black tinted window Porsches):

Terrorism threat palpable: 

In Odessa unknown people conducted a terrorist attack mining the railroad tracks.

Right Sector in Odessa metes out mob justice: extrajudicial punishment of drug pushers

Drug producers tied up

Trade Unions House

Dom Profsoyuzov (Trade Unions House)
"The Hero city of Sevastopol will liberate the Hero City of Odessa" poster. Details about the killings: the local knows who dunnit.

"Sevastopol (Crimean Russians) will liberate Odessa"

Jem sniadanie, czyli tlusty kotlet z octowa salata w podziemu domu zwiazkow zawodowych w Odesie. Tak tego. Jedynie kafejka dziala. Wypalone okna, szczelne bloki betonowe, kapliczka z opisem co komu sie dokladnie stalo. Oczywiscie niezgodne z oficjalna wersja kijowska.

Podszedlem z tylu ale ciec mnie przegonil. Z przodu Policja pilnuje obietnic wyzwolenia Odessy przez Sewastopol, ze wstazka koloradow. Muzyczka z lat 80 ruskie disco polo. Obok mnie goscie w moro tez podjadaja, wkrotce jada na ATO chyba. Pelna schizofrenia lojalistyczna. Na razie obawiam sie, ze jesli ruskie to podciagna z Krymu, to znajda wielu ukrytych zwolennikow.

Sergeevka - the real fate of the internal refugees

The hHotels lodging refugees had not been paid for 3 months. Akhmetov steps in and pays his fund's money to save the day.

It is hard to withdraw cash for refugees: banks block it even when refugees turn up in Kyiv in person.

I read in a Russian language magazine a whole feature on similar bizhency, the Crimean and Donetsk ones resettled in the Lviv region: in Solyanka and Dobrotvor, to be exact.

 In short, it is not fun. You are forced to live in god forsaken villages, u v few papers, connections, money and even less chance to work in your specialization, or in any job. There is no kaw on internal refugees yet, so they dont have much poiitical or adninistrative leverage. The guys ("chelovyeki" in Ukrainian - sweet name) land in the street. The girls with kids are stuck to push it alone. After the honeymoon prriod, misunderstandings and ill will abound, on both sides. Everybody dreads the winter.

So where do they land afterwards? Some in Poland. 3000 of then so far, pacem this article. We also take in  "right" soldiers' children here for free, and give other under the table help to the Ukrainian army: I took down the relevant ad with me.

We will go on helping and expecting some more in Poland as the war rolls on.... If Putin goes bananas, we ourselves may in turn ask Germans and French for such help one day. Think of the 1980s and the Austrian resettlement camps for us Poles...

Article: banks allow 50 zl/day then 50 zl/month. Block payment cards, en.masse, even in Kyiv. No pension, no budget. Private companies close.

Refugees fare no better. Staye does not pay the dom otdycha. Small srttlements, razval.

було прийнято Гуманітарних штабом при фонді Ріната Ахметова. На розгляді у штабу знаходилося звернення керівництва бази з проханням покрити борг в розмірі більше 2,5 млн грн.

there allegedly were "cast out" of refugees due to lack of funding. Similar problem - in the sanatorium "Medic 2" all in the same Sergeevka. "State does not pay for these people," - said Bloschytsya.

Private companies pay instrad.and then

It was learned that the private business to help IDPs. However, under which scheme and why through this company (" Governor. - Ed.) - Is unclear. Criminal proceedings have not yet opened, but the department for combating economic crime is leading due diligence "

Dead souls

ed, will open criminal proceedings "- told us at the resort.
Asks for help from private foundations
Problems with financing experience and other area resorts, many of whom are forced to turn to charities and organizations. Example, one resorts Sergeevka already turned to Rinat Akhmetov.

Rozmawialem z biezenka, ktorej matka sprzedala martwego meza cialo za pieniadze. Wkrotce potem sama zostala zabita przez syna, brata biezenki, rok przed wojna obecna. O szczegoly nie dopytywalem...

Transnistria aka Pridniestroy: the future of Donbas

One of the unreal countries: not recognized even by Russia.
A West Berlin atmosphere.
The Muchany town: many factories.
A miniature of Ukraine vs Novorosiya stand-off: industry in Transnistria (in the east) works fine, but an unrecognized republic.

A hotel Bendery with a soldier with kalashnikov at the entrance.
Note the sign...

International showers

Austrian cyclist in Transnistria

Modernity mixing with Soviet traditions

Local communist newspare

Communist sight, but...

Church towering over Communist parliament

200 for the locals
300 for Abchazia and South Ossetia
400 for innostrancy (R and such)

Tell the story about an Englishman arrested for bank robbery but then accused of murder, because he traded GBP.

Tank with cover and sokdiers at the bridge.

Crimea: 3 times higher pensions. Donbas expects the same.
Transnistiran money: first plastic coins in the world
Similar in Transdnistria: some Moldovan villages want to join it. Rest of Moldova: mostly anticommunist.

Russia not recognizes. Gives free gaz and energy. Trans pay municipalities but not back to Russia. 4 billion eur. Accrued to Moldova account, as a blackmail to Kishinau.

Banker selling home wine to me: stranger met in street, as wife graduate little prospect. International shower show.

Moldova: another borderland

Kishinau : no tu eres marfa posters any more. "Let us fight the mafia" instead.

The EU influence is seen in the streets. A large building for the OSCE: sizeable military presence.

The hostel worker complained about the "Russians go home" chemodan vokzal rossiya calls to pack their bags.
Ethnic cleansing of Russians in Kazakhstan, Georgia etc. and now in Moldova. Hounded like Jews after 1948.

Jewish were shot in Lipkany: the mythical place for Anatevka from "Fiddler on the Roof".

R walks up 10 km to the train station, but is stopped there, as the border is for the locals only and passing is impossible. Weird guys lurk in a car in the forest with Russian flags in their car.

R takes a taxi to the border, to walk over, but problems with the missing entry stamp, as R entered via Tiraspol. The customs give up and let R through.

Where to go? Chotyń or Kamieniec Podolski? Zbaraż maybe?

R hitchhikes to Ukraine, Frankivsk, with a Ukrainian couple who traveled to Hungary, Bulgaria etc. for yet another tourist trip. Very bad roads: potholes called not holes (dyra) anymore, but crevices (yama). R tells a flat earth joke about the Japanese yama for the Ukrainian and Polish góra (mountain).

Ukrainians explain why roads so bad: the Presidents and Russian "moskals" steal. Central budget. If not them we wd be perfect.

Now money for ATO is needed. They do not fear the winter without heating. Three military drafts in Ukraine so far, but they do no fear being called up.

By way of summary: Eternal Soldier

A Russian kolorad soldier met in Lipkany, Moldova. A former jet-fighter pilot, as he claimed, his story was corroborated by the recent soldiers ration packet box from Russia. Shows respect to R, due to R's older age.

Drunken, slovenly. Claimed to have two wives: one in Moscow, the second one in Moldova. Despised the Moldovan police. A typical homo sovieticus.

When in trouble (stuck at the side of a road at night with R, hitch-hiking), he used the bratie pomogi, "Help, o Brother" phrase, to ask a lift out of Moldova. His method of using hidden extortion reminded R of the UPA soldier met previously in Ukraine.

R begins to understand that such low-level military extortion operates much like high-level war contribution, kontyngenty, depozyt or war taxes. Similar to the Ukrainian soldiers fighting the DNR ones from above a kindergarten in Donbas, one of the last refugee shelters for civilians. Similar to the Donbass rebels' mortars shooting meters from local high rise flats in Donetsk.

War is a racket. Do not let it creep near us. Пусть всегда будет солнце!

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