4 Apr

Intro to the book of reportages by Nataliya Gumenyuk, a Ukrainian journalist reporting on the post-Arab spring development in Egypt, Tunisian, Jordan, Syria, and also Turkey, Palestine, Iran and Iraq

 “It’s just cucumbers that are smaller here in Ukraine, everything else is the same,” I write to the Egyptian artist and film director Bassem Yusri, as I get ready to go to Cairo for the first time. Bassem sent me a copy of his ironic movie so that I would be ready to talk about his politically engaged art. In this film, shot a year before the ‘Arab Spring’, Bassem mocks the government-controlled television of Egypt in the Hosni Mubarak era. The director plays the role of a presenter who, instead of reading the news, stays silent or says meaningless phrases, shouts something out, and in the end chews a huge cucumber – no, there aren’t any like that in Ukrainian cities, either. Bassem’s pre-revolutionary work has the odour of disbelief, frustration and even anger.

“I didn’t believe that the regime in Egypt would ever change. I received a scholarship and moved to the US, and I was sure that I wouldn’t return to Cairo. I thought that my country was in a terrible state, that hopelessness prevailed there. Why torture myself?”

Bassem returned to Egypt at the exact time when in another Arab country – Tunisia – the people took to the streets, outraged at widespread corruption, brutality and the police’s impunity. When the Tunisian leader ben Ali resigned, the protests spread to Egypt as well. That the regimes which had remained in power for decades in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, could collapse, and that in Jordan, Syria, Bahrain, the people would dare to protest – these things were impossible to believe.


At that time in Ukraine, the Yanukovych regime was rolling back civil liberties. On Ukrainian television, the budgets for talent shows were increased; the news resembled Russian state TV in its loyalty to the government, or was just limited to crime reports, while the foreign news mostly reported celebrity weddings, and the main task of the international correspondents was to translate these notes. “Why should Ukrainians care who’s president of the United States?” the editor of one of the central channels said to me when I offered to prepare a report about the American elections. The only thing that you could talk about was European integration, but only from the most popular perspective: how difficult is it to get a Schengen visa? Among media circles it was quite often mentioned that it was too late now, that it was time to move to Europe. Another option was to be a tourist in your own country, hiding away in your own world, far from politics.

The changes in the Middle East seemed pretty far away in Ukraine. The comment you often heard when it came to the ‘Arab spring’ was: “We know how this is going to end.” On the anniversary of the Orange Revolution, perhaps in one of the cafes along the Kreshchatyk, I noticed people with orange ribbons, although on Facebook I didn’t really like to recall “where I was in November 2004”. Western journalists kept asking why Ukrainians had not taken to the streets in defence of Yulia Tymoshenko; and then they wrote about the pro-Russian government and the pro-Western opposition, with the obligatory mention of the ‘Russian-speaking east’ and the ‘Ukrainian-speaking west’. Meanwhile, the foreign press’s emotional immersion in the protests in Cairo and Tunis quickly changed into debates about the demands of the liberals and the fundamentalists, the Western and Islamic civilisations.

I also wondered why, when it comes to Ukraine, it was necessary to oppose East and West, Brussels and Moscow, the Russian and Ukrainian languages; and in the case of the Middle East, Islam and Christianity, Bin Laden and the White House, fundamentalists and liberals,… meanwhile, the people were taking to the streets to protest against corruption, the police’s impunity, the repression of freedom, and the poverty, trying to confront the regimes that allocated public resources among their family members by transferring money to offshore accounts in the Caymans and the Virgin Islands. If we have similar problems in Ukraine, why do they first of all mention jihadists, or ‘the legitimacy of spheres of geopolitical influence in the post-Soviet space’? Another issue which resembled the Arab revolutions: what happens after the dictator is deposed, and the people leave the square?

I left the central media; but having experience in television, after visited several dozen countries and attended a lot of conferences, seminars and training programs, I had many friends around the globe, but no-one out in the Arab world. The contacts I wanted would not come out of nowhere. So, with just $500 left for a ticket and expenses, at the earliest opportunity I dared to fly out to a minor conference on the rule of law organised by some British acquaintances in Amman for Iraqi, Lebanese and Jordanian leaders of civil society. I was not a Lebanese woman, not a Jordanian woman; I had no connection to Iraq, I could not share the British experience of upholding the rule of law. Still, I thought it was at least a chance to meet someone from the ‘Arab Spring’ generation – as I usually thought of those who would become the heroes of my reports.

The young and successful leaders of the organisations involved in human rights, women’s rights and conflict resolution, were all intelligent and well-educated, their parents were influential, and they did pretty good business. And the girls had Louis Vuitton bags and Armani shoes, and most of the guys had expensive watches and brand new SUVs. When I asked how to get to the Dead Sea by public transport, they gave me the number of a driver who would take about $100 for a taxi ride, and recommended a good five-star hotel. In the evening, when the conference ended and the participants planned to go to the best restaurant in Amman, I realised that I didn’t see any point in it, and I got out of the taxi halfway. I went to find a stone house with scraps of old trousers patching the broken window in the bathroom, where I was supposed to meet some street activists, hip-hop musicians, artists, who I had found online at the last minute. Since then, saving every penny, I have looked for the cheapest flights, I slept in airports, travelled from city to city by public transport or hitching lifts, from Amman to Tunis, from Cairo to Tehran, from Palestine to the Syrian border, down to Baghdad, Istanbul and Beirut, for almost two years, I asked everyone I met about the revolutionary struggle, the everyday post-war and post-revolutionary life, the disappointments, the search inside oneself, and for inspiration – so that together with the community activists and apolitical hipsters, the artists and musicians, the cyber-dissidents and bureaucrats, the Islamists and atheists, the former and not so former soldiers, the peasants and townspeople, there, in the Middle East – I could search for the revolution which, it seemed, had already been lost.

Occasionally I returned to Kyiv to join another protest action in the movement against censorship, to discuss the further curtailing of freedoms, trying to understand why Ihor Indylo, tortured by the police, had not become our Khaled Saeed or Mohammed Bouazizi; the tragic deaths of these two had led to mass demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia, but the revolt in Vradiyivka – a village in the south of Ukraine where local policemen raped and beat up a girl – lasted only four days.

The Middle East was inspiring because it seemed that the people were operating in much harder and riskier circumstances than in Ukraine; the Arab bloggers were not only arguing about different ideas of history, but were also reporting from the streets, and were among the people all the time; the fighters against corruption organised anonymous online platforms so that officials who had witnessed money laundering could share this information with lawyers. Finally, as I then maybe naively thought, no one was hoping that someone would come and save them straight away. The Ukrainians were hoping to be rescued by their undeniable historical affiliation with European civilisation and their common border, whereas the Arabs could not become part of the European Community. 

I realised that a book should come out of all of this, and so I planned to spend the winter of 2013/4 in Cairo, to write about the three years of Tahrir Square, and above all to learn more about the Syrian refugees in Beirut.

Having received an invitation to the summit in Vilnius (European integration was still almost the only international theme in the Ukrainian media), at the invitation of a European foundation I agreed to fly to the Lithuanian capital with students, and at the same time I was going to prepare the first broadcast of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU for Hromadske.TV – an independent online television run by a group of the Ukrainian journalists which has become the go-to-news media during the Maidan revolution and further conflict in Ukraine.

“I’ll be back after Vilnius,” I said in Beirut, a day before the Ukrainian government announced that it would not sign the Association Agreement. There, in Lithuania, it seemed as if something else might still change, although the Ukrainian opposition leaders explained to the media that it was worth preparing for the elections in 2015, as if there were no protesters on the streets of Kyiv. The confused Ukrainian journalists and civil activists returned to Kyiv on the same flight, of course, talking about nothing else than what would happen after the Berkut troops dispersed the students. Then there was the Maidan, Crimea, the Donbas. Of course, no Beirut, no Cairo, no Tunis. Of course, I never wrote to anyone that I wasn’t coming. And I responded unusually briefly to the reports of what was happening in Ukraine. What was special was that the replies from Cairo, Amman and Tunisia did not contain sympathy or pity, but rather expressions of solidarity.

“You know what made me angry, when I was last in London, and I was presenting an exhibition where there were a lot of Arab artists sharing their experiences about what is happening in the Arab world?” I recalled the words of Bassem, the Egyptian artist. “Often at the end of the performances or exhibitions, the audience had tears in their eyes. The first question that the audience put was: ‘How can we help you?’ There’s something deeply wrong in this. We are not victims of an earthquake. We lived through something very complicated, but we did it of our own free will. Even the Syrians did not oppose the volcano. People deliberately take risks, they are ready for a confrontation, they are bold. But I don’t understand why we put ourselves in the position of the victim. Too much drama, rushing around, too many labels. When the police fired at us, the Egyptians kept on making jokes. Similarly, when politicians reveal their connections and hand out the money, it doesn’t often mean a clash of civilisations, as people so often say.


While we had the Maidan, Crimea, the Donbass, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was still re-elected president of Turkey, even though Gezi Park had demonstrated against him; and after a year of rule by the Muslim Brotherhood, once again a general became president of Egypt with dictatorial powers – albeit not as corrupt, compared to Mubarak. In Tunisia the Islamists who came to power after the revolution still lost the elections, which were still democratic. The Jordanians have become more cautious because of the threat of the ‘Islamic State’, whose brutality has even been condemned by al-Qaeda. Meanwhile Iraq and Syria have fallen under their control. The death toll in the war in Syria has only increased, and a victory over Bashar Assad now seems not just illusory, but sometimes seems as if it could threaten to radicalise the whole region.

‘Peace in the Middle East is more unlikely than ever’ – for half a century foreign journalists have started and finished their reports that way. Generalising, frightened of ‘inevitable Islamisation’ and ‘an Arab winter’. Most often adopting the position of the elder brother, who criticises the younger for his lack of pragmatism. This romanticised notion of the ‘Arab Spring’ has never been directly employed by the Arab media; it was first used in the American magazine Foreign Policy. Meanwhile most Egyptians, Tunisians, Yemenis emphasise that systemic changes need time, that the Islamists were at the helm because they were the only organised opposition. Therefore, it was not a question of religious fanaticism becoming stronger.

When two and a half years after the overthrow of Mubarak, the Egyptian military, which had some support among the public, removed the first democratically elected President Mohammed Mursi from power, and a month later killed about a thousand people while suppressing the demonstrations in support of the imprisoned leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world was confused. Forced to simplify the story (‘democracy against dictatorship’, ‘Islamists against liberals’, ‘Muslims against Christians’), the media talked about ‘the army against the leader, who was chosen by the people’. We are given to understand that what is happening in Egypt or Tunisia is not so complicated; we just have to compare it with similar political processes in our own country.

Ukrainians are outraged when the foreign press, both western and Russian, writes about the country being split into Ukrainian and Russian, East and West, about the ‘irreconcilable opposition of supporters of Europe and Russia’. However, we readily use the word ‘split’ when it comes to liberals and Islamists in the Middle East. We readily speak of ‘separatism’ in other countries, while insisting that the separation of Crimea was artificial, unnatural. We explain that the language issue is not the number one problem, but rather the map which the politicians are playing with. And so we should understand that in the Arab world, the best way to distract voters from economic problems is religion. Ukrainians are outraged when the foreign media draw conclusions about the racism of the whole population based on a video about the far-right, and all follow the herd about ‘fascism’ because of the red and black flags on the Maidan. Likewise, the Islamists in Egypt do not represent the entire population. The Ukrainians who did not vote for President Yanukovych argued that winning the elections does not constitute the endorsement of the majority. Meanwhile in the case of Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood had the support of one-eighth of the population.

“The revolutionaries wanted the best, but were naive and as a result they got war”; so ran the text I noticed in an eminent American magazine. This time they were wearily summing up the Ukrainian Maidan. We really do not want the West to give up on the Ukrainian revolution, because we have a civil society, we have independent media, we have educated young people. However, attempts to show, on the basis of the same factors, that everything is still possible in the Middle East are often met with scepticism in Ukraine, because it has to do with different people.

Analysts, political scientists, media people who have grown accustomed to ‘velvet’ revolutions often consider the current uprising in the light of the standard principle: in place of the bad dictator there should be the good opposition. If you don’t get the prime minister’s chair – you have automatically lost. Meanwhile, among the Arab revolutionaries I noticed much less frustration and discouragement. When analysing the situation, they themselves told how the ones who came to the forefront were the classic ‘old regime’ figures, together with the representatives of the parties that were conventionally in opposition, but were always ready to compromise. They also complain about the new generation of activists who seek a glory that was so easy to get as the people came out onto the square. The new revolutionaries want to be on TV; but sometimes they lack endurance, strategy and an understanding of the essence of the Revolution. 

The particular feature of the Arab transformations is that it was not a matter of just replacing evil rulers with good oppositionists. The aim is to change the game, or at least to force whoever leads the country to play by the rules. The citizens understand that it is naive to think that the Islamists who benefited from the revolution, or the military who, for example in Egypt, controls the financial flows, will hand over control. But little by little, even if it is sometimes a situation of ‘two steps forward, one step back’, the system makes advances, because it simply cannot continue not to hear and to ignore the citizens.

Although the government uses any mechanisms it can to resist change, now it is especially necessary to procrastinate in the defence of prisoners, to help the families of those who have lost parents or children during the confrontation. In the meantime, activists have to compete in the political space with those who are able to buy votes for a bag of sugar and a bottle of oil, and any idea can extremely simply be discredited, destroyed, silenced, talked over and lost among the noise of information.

 “They say about me that I work for the CIA, Mossad and the KGB all at the same time. Even if I was a saint, they can portray me as a spy, and reduce the entire history of the Revolution to another conspiracy theory. And someone stops trusting me. And this is done consciously by those who know that some ideas are stronger than power and money,” explains Wael Abbas, one of Egypt’s most influential bloggers.

“My film about the revolution in Egypt – I will take five years to shoot it,” says a Cairo documentary maker. “Our future seems very difficult, but there is hope. It’s not a matter of five or ten years. We will see the result after fifty years. For this alone, we have to do something, at least,” adds another director.

This dialogue took place long before the Maidan in Kiev, when we were sitting on plastic chairs in a street cafe near Tahrir Square. Alongside us stood a car with its windows open; its owner only came along after a few hours, to take out a bag with a laptop.

“Listen, why didn’t he lock the car up? Is it so safe here?”

“This is the old town, everybody knows each other, why should he bother?”

This book, which was conceived as a collection of stories about the Arab revolution and the post-revolutionary changes, also talks about things which are not often seen in news reports: the circumstances in which all these people who became the heroes of global news live and work. Still now, when it comes to the Arab world, you are unlikely to hear the name of anyone other than the dictator. When the Middle East was mentioned, images come forth of sheikhs, jihadists, women in hijabs and sometimes Bedouins. Today, in each of these countries we can distinguish a hundred faces, activists and politicians, artists and office workers, as well as ordinary people from the squares. They are far away, yet so close. And in trying to understand them, we can learn a little more about ourselves.


“Ukraine: Stop the Seeds of Violence now”. My interview to Le Monde

27 Jan

My interview to

By Sylvie Kauffmann (Davos, special correspondent). 26 January 2014 at 11:26 • Updated 26 January 2014 at 1:29 p.m. 

Ukraine: “It’s not a question of Russia, but of escaping injustice and corruption”

Nataliya Gumenyuk, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said she would return to Ukraine to monitor the protest.

On Sunday, Nataliya Gumenyuk returned to Kiev. At the beginning of the week, when the protest movement on the Maidan recorded its first deaths, and she was at Davos she asked herself: “If she could be away from Ukraine during the critical time?” Finally, her friends, and especially the colleagues with whom she created the independent online television station Hromadske.TV last year, convinced her that at that moment she could also have some impact being shortly away and talking directly to those in power.


Small, thin, her eyes red from lack of sleep, Nataliya Gumenyuk (30) speaks quickly but accurately, as if every minute counts. She was invited to Davos as part of the Global Shapers group, young elites whom the World Economic Forum believes are already shaping the world of tomorrow.


On Thursday night, at one of those very ‘Davos’ dinners whose theme was the future of Europe, by chance she found herself sitting at the table of José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. He listened to her carefully. “I don’t know if your life has changed since last Sunday,” she told him, “but mine has been turned upside down. The country that I will find after I get back from Davos is not the same as the one I left.”

Nataliya Gumenyuk was born in Birobidzhan in the Russian Far East, where her father, a Soviet military man, had been stationed. She was seven years old when Ukraine became independent. Another thing which changed her life, in 2005, was a grant from the Swedish government, which allowed her to do a Masters in Journalism at the University of Örebro, Sweden. When she returned to Ukraine, she was a European. Here is her story:  Continue reading

Чи є стратегія для Майдану і чому мирний спротив дієвий?

21 Jan

30.11.2013 – цей матеріал я написала ще до початку протестів, а опублікувала того самого 30-го листопада. за той час чимало всього змінилося, та й майдан виявився дієвішим, ніж здавалося, але деякі речі підтвердилися. час писати інший, а цей хай буде під рукою.

Чи є сенс лишатися на вулицях? Як довго може тривати протест? Якою є роль опозиції? Чи можливо домогтися чогось без політиків? Що гірше – радикалізація чи маргіналізація протесту? І найбільш звична і популярна суперечка: чи дієвий протест без жертв і чи є відповідь на силовий сценарій? Дискусії про подальшу стратегію чи перебіг подій на #євромайданах в Україні спираються на особисту інтуїцію, враження, лишаючи українські події відірваними від світового контексту. Однак масові виступи відбувалися й відбуваються по всьому світу й давно досліджуються соціологами. У прогнозах на 2014 журнал «Економіст» відніс Україну до країн з високим ризиком масових виступів. Тоді як відносно масштабні протести мали б торкнутися 60 країн. Над цим матеріалом я почала працювати півтора роки тому, коли вирушаючи в постреволюційні Єгипет та Туніс прагнула розібратися, як учасники масових виступів долають розчарування. Після Майдану 2004-го наступні акції в Україні видавалися неефективними, що лише посилювало апатію населення. Останні роки на тлі велелюдних протестів, що прокотилися світом, але не завжди були дієвими, здавалося, що самі лише демонстрації – які в Україні систематизовано дискредитовувался усіма партіями шляхом підкупу учасників, – віджили своє. Упродовж року в арабському світі, Туреччині, Росії, Польщі, Греції, Бразилії, США я спілкувалася громадськими активістами, політиками, теоретиками та соціологами, що вивчають протестні рухи, запитуючи про те, як мирний спротив працює у сучасному світі. Результати дали привід думати, що в українців не так багато причин розчаровуватися у на перший погляд неуспішності акцій громадської непокори, які не слід плутати з системним відстоюванням власних прав.

Розвінчувачки міфів

У світі досі панує думка, що ненасильницький спротив не надто успішний. Американські соціологи Еріка Чіновет та Марія Стефан проаналізували 330 найбільших конфліктів з від початку 20-го сторіччя (з 1900 до 2006 року) і довели: мирний тиск населення на владу має удвічі більше шансів на успіх, аніж збройне протистояння. (Тоді як ненасильницька боротьба – це не лише застосування зброї, а й дії, які можна назвати неконституційними.) “До ненасильницьких заходів долучається у чотири рази більшості людей: це жінки, старі, діти, люди, які б не наважилися на ризикованіші кроки. Завдяки цьому рух може використовувати більше тактик та стратегій. Загальний страйк завдасть чималої шкоди опоненту, тоді як повстанці не мають змоги вдатися до такого способу,” – пояснює Еріка Чиновет. [Книгу Еріки цього року переклали українською. ]

Соціологи мають що заперечити й тим, хто нарікає на неготовність певної нації до активних дій, зважаючи на ментальність, історичний контекст: “Розглянувши такі параметри, як сила опонента, бажання і спроможність вдатися до репресій, регіон, історичний період, ми з’ясували, що жоден із цих факторів, в тому числі етнічність чи гомогенність населення, не впливає на шанси кампанії”.

Дослідження також довело що саме мирний, а не насильницький спротив, має більше шансів на успіх, у протистоянні з репресивним режимом. Зброя в руках чи вандалізм дають владі привід застосовувати силу у відповідь.

Не Майданом єдиним

Один з найвідоміших польських художників, що займається політично ангажованим мистецтвом, Артур Жмієвськи об’їздив півсвіту фільмуючи мітинги. Під час розмови Жмієвськи запитує: “чому, наприклад, іспанський рух “Індігнадос”, який виступає проти економічної політики, виводять на вулиці Мадрида мільйони людей. Але це призводить до системних змін?” Подібні думки чула від активістів грецького руху “Окупуй Синтагму”. Ті експериментували з впровадженням прямої демократії в Афінах, але через півроку згорнули наметове містечко.

Теоретики мирного спротиву пояснюють, що демонстрації та мітинги – лише одна із сотень стратегій. Неефективність однієї форми боротьби не означає неуспіх усієї кампанії. Якщо такий метод не діє, варто вдатися чи вигадати інший. Чи не головний ідеолог мирного спротиву Джин Шарп нарахував 198 методів ненасильницького спротиву. Їх він поділив на три категорії: протести та переконання (мітинги, любування, усі способи донесення інформації від ЗМІ до написів в повітрі, нагороди-висміювання, “переслідування” певних особистостей, звукові кампанії, культурні заходи), неспівпраця (політична й економічна: страйки, бойкоти, масові звільнення, відмови сплачувати податки, оренду, борги, остракізм певних персоналій) та ненасильницька інтервенція (ненасильницькі рейди та захоплення території, створення альтернативних інституцій). Політолог Харді Мерріман пропонує іншу класифікацію: населення робить те, чого від нього не чекають (виходить на вулиці, складає петиції) та коли населення не робить те, чого від нього очікують (бойкоти, відмова їздити в автобусах для чорних, тощо). За його словами, акції неучасті виявилися загалом дієвішими. 

Якщо спиратися на наукову термінологію, то після незалежності в Україні лише одного разу була здійснена масштабна і системна кампанія громадянської непокори – Помаранчева революція ( “України без Кучми” її підґрунтя). Решта акцій не мали системного характеру, чіткої мети, були разовими заходами чи просто спробами обуритися корупцією або нагадати про свої права.

На певному історичному етапі будь-яка тактика відживає своє, як це сталося з петиціями та розповсюдженням листівок. З часом опоненти цілеспрямовано дискредитовують чи копіюють методи активістів. Об’єднавча символіка покликана продемонструватити наявність однодумців. Після успіху помаранчевих стрічок Кремль ініціював подібну акцію з георгієвськими. Політичні партії в Україні дискредитували мітинги на Майдані. Хоча масові виступи людей в Єгипті, Тунісі, Туреччині, чи Бразилії чи не найкраще показують готовність населення до дій, здається, золота доба цього феномену може виявитися у минулому. Як Еріка Чиновет додає: “Під час Першої світової війна на Західному фронті тривала роками, бо армії з обох боків воювали за розкладом. Починали зранку, а ввечері розходилися по казармах.”   Continue reading

Ukraine’s #euromaidan. Nothing to do with the EU or Russia

27 Nov

Generally I don’t like using the flag of the European Union as a kind of protest symbol. Just as I don’t like the ‘Ode to Joy’, the phrase ‘European integration’ or the hashtag #euromaidan, despite the fact that I’ve already used it myself several hundred times. I don’t like them because they do not evoke any emotions, just as the official symbols of the IMF, UN, OSCE or the EBRD don’t. I don’t like them because, in contrast to the national flags and hand-painted posters, they were invented or chosen in offices. So that’s why I can’t force myself to use the symbol of the European currency as my profile picture. What does money have to do with anything here? Image

At the same time, I realise that talking about these symbols without context is pedantry. For us on the #euromaidan, the word ‘euro’ doesn’t mean the European Commission, or the cabinet meeting in Brussels, or the currency, or Baroness Ashton, or the bureaucrats. These days I do not have enough time to respond to the questions from Western journalists who, as they did in 2004, are asking about Ukraine’s choice between Russia and the EU.

In fact, if you don’t explain what is inherent in the concept of ‘euro’ from abroad, the protests about European integration might look strange. Nor did we understand why the Turks got so angry about the construction of a tiny park, or why millions of Brazilians are ready to crawl under batons and bayonets because of a rise in the prices of bus tickets. Image

It is popular to assume that it is not the European Union which the Ukrainian people support, but rather European values (including material values). However, I don’t believe that anything like specifically ‘European values’ exist, just as there is no such thing as ‘European’ human rights. They are just human rights, which should be universal from Tokyo to Rio, New York to New Delhi. And if you look not at the letter of #euromaidan but rather at its spirit, the euro itself is secondary. And that’s why it is so hard to find appropriate opponents to the protests. After all, it’s not a question of making a ‘geopolitical choice’ in a strictly literal sense, not supporting the EU or anti-Russian sentiments, but rather the right of citizens to take to the streets when their opinions are brazenly disregarded, even though supposedly “the people are the source of power”. They have to do the same as the citizens of Turkey, Brazil, Egypt and the USA did, speaking of values which are common to all people. Image

In fact, it means that abandoning the ‘Euro-choice’ in Ukraine means remaining in the territory of lawlessness and tyranny, ignorance and kleptocracy. Abandoning the ‘Euro-choice’ in Ukraine means being stuck in a grey zone where education and professionalism are empty words; where being different risks earning you a kick in the head. Abandoning it right now means doing it at a time when we find ourselves on the brink, and we risk falling into an abyss where every day would be like this: Vradiivka and Indylo – a village in the south of Ukraine where local policemen raped and beat up a girl, and a 20-year old student who died after being tortured at a police station. Where ‘education’ means Tabachnyk and Farion – a Minister of Education who denies that western Ukrainians are really Ukrainian and is trying to ‘Sovietise’ Ukrainian historiography; and a neo-Nazi MP, former communist party member and school teacher who claims those who does not speak Ukrainian ought to be jailed. Where ‘healthcare’ means Sliusarchuk and a drug called ‘Ukrain’ – a distinguished neurosurgeon who turned out to be a fake, and in the end was accused of forgery, fraud and illegal medical practice which led to the deaths and injuries of patients; and a fake anti-cancer drug sold by a political party which lead to the death of the patients. Where ‘art’ means Zabolotnaya’s black square – a mural critical of the church, which was painted black by the curator of a modern art exhibition in an act of censorship.  Continue reading

мені не подобається частка “євро”, але…

26 Nov

Взагалі мені не подобається прапор Європейського Союзу в якості протестного символу. Так само, як не подобається «Ода радості», слово «євроінтеграція» і хештег #євромайдан, хоча сама вже використала його кількасот разів. Не подобаються, бо не викликають жодних емоцій, як не чіпляють будь-які офіційні символи МВФ, ООН, ОБСЄ, ЄБРР. Не подобаються, бо на відміну від прапорів чи власноруч намальованих плакатів створювалися чи обиралися в кабінетах. Так само не хочеться ставити на аватарку позначку європейської валюти. Бо до чого тут валюта? Image

Водночас розумію, що говорити про символи без контексту – буквоїдство. Для нас – #євромайданців – частка «євро» означає не Європейську Комісію, не кабінетні засідання в Брюсселі, не баронесу Ештон чи євробанктноти. Я не встигаю відповідати на повідомлення від західних журналістів, які мов у 2004-му перепитують про Росію та ЄС. Справді, якщо не пояснювати, що саме закладають в поняття «євро» українці з-за кордону протест за євроінтеграцію може виглядати дивно. Так само з-за кордону не розуміли, чого це турків настільки роздратувала забудова крихітного парку, чому мільйони бразильців готові лізти під кийки через підняття цін на автобус.


Логічно узагальнити, що українці підтримують не Європейський Союз, а європейські цінності (в тому числі й матеріальні). Однак в 2013-му не існує якихось особливих європейських цінностей, як і не буває суто європейських прав людини. Вони – права людини – загальнолюдські, універсальні від Токіо до Ріо, від Нью-Йорка до Делі. І якщо дивитися не на букву, а дух #євромайдану, то #євро, як і Росія, тут вторинні. Саме тому так складно знайти адекватних противників майдану. Адже справа не так в «геополітичному виборі» в буквоїдському розумінні цього слова, а у праві громадян вийти на вулиці, коли їхньою думкою нахабно нехтують, тоді як «народ – єдине джерело влади». Зробити те саме, що робили громадяни Туреччини, Бразилії, США чи Тунісу, захищаючи цінності спільні для всіх нас. Так вже сталося, що відмовитися від «євровибору» в Україні – значить залишитися на території беззаконня й свавілля, клептократії й невігластва. Відмовитися від «євровибору» в Україні – зависнути у сірій зоні, де освіта й професійність – порожні слова, а за інакшість можна отримати по голові. Відмовитися від “євровибору” саме зараз – означає зробити це у час, коли ми опинилися на краю прірви, у якій кожен день – це Врадіївка та Індило, вчитель – Табачник-Фаріон, медицина – Слюсарчук та препарат “Україн”, а мистецтво – чорний квадрат Заболотної.

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комендантська година, або коли починається гра

13 Nov


Каїр був у новинах в середині серпня. Тоді ми багато говорили про комендантську годину та  надзвичайний стан. А потім – а потім, як завжди  перестали говорити. Перестали настільки раптово, наскільки раптово з’явилося повідомлення про хімічну зброю в Сирії. Раптово усі канали (навіть ті, що зазвичай заощаджують) спрямували журналістів до Бейрута, очікуючи атак, фільмуючи “навали біженців”, немовби цих біженців не було доти. Бейрут раптово став центром світу. А потім – а потім так само раптово перестав ним бути, а медіа перестали говорити про біженців, нову війну, яка от-от мала початися. (Я окремо писала й напишу, чому ця війна початися не могла, як не могло початися те, що вже давно триває).  От тільки за цей час ані в Бейруті, ані в Каїрі нічогоне змінилося.  Окрім кількості медіа. Image

Поки редакції передислоковували журналістів з Каїра в Бейрут, а оператор шведського телебачення у бронежилеті на даху п’ятизіркового готелю розгортав біля басейну тарілку для включення, я тихенько (як завжди на айфон) знімала ось цей матеріал про те, як єгиптяни шукають відради під час коменданської години поза фейсбуком та телевізором.

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бейрут. вхід тільки для сторонніх

10 Nov


З ввічливості танцювати на столі, з примусу гучно святкувати до ранку. Як мені пояснюють: війна тут тривала так довго, от і святкують відчайдушно.

 “Чиї ключі?”- офіціант вибиває ритм в’язанками ключів від автівок, загублених під час танців. Власник одного крокує до припаркованої машини через весь квартал, забравши з собою повну склянку віскі. Не опускаючи її проїжджає через черговий блокпост.  “Це ж Бейрут!” – не забуває додати поки у склянці дзеленчить льод. Гучні вечірки (можна й щодня), золоті пайєтки та завузькі вечірні сукні на місцевих жінках. Жінках неймовірно красивих, настільки, що чоловіки-іноземці починають говорити пошепки, ніби виправдовуючись за те, що виділяють ліванок серед інших. Забагато непотрібної їжі на столах, частина якої, здається, прямує одразу у смітник, Хамра і трохи Джемайзех, а головне гордість, з якою ведуться розмови про те, як бейрутці уміють святкувати, – це такий самий “маст”, як Чорнобиль і копанки для іноземного журналіста в Україні, як купання в ополонці, напівоголені українки на підборах, як холодець, кров’янка і салат під шубою (з обов’язковим “так, смачно”, бо не зрозуміють). Image

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