Ukraine Culture

Ukraine Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Ukraine

According to BUSINESSCARRIERS.COM, Ukraine is a country located in Europe. Up to the 1820s, only newspapers published in Russia or Austria-Hungary existed on the territory of Ukraine. In 1819, the first local newspaper in Russian, Kharkovskije Izvestija was founded. In Western Ukraine, after 1830, various magazines were published in Ukrainian as well as the daily Zorja Halytska. Due to the Ukrainian press’s intercourse with various freedom movements, in 1863 all publishing in Ukrainian was banned. After 1905, Ukrainian newspapers could be published again, which was of importance for the national liberation in 1918. Until 1927, the Bolsheviks supported a “Ukrainianisation” of the press, but during the Soviet era the media in Ukraine was completely controlled by the Communist Party.

Following the adoption of a law on press freedom in 1992, the Ukrainian media has undergone a drastic change. In 1996, 44 newspapers were published in Ukraine. The government-backed Factories in Commentary and Segodnja are the country’s largest daily newspapers with editions of over 1.1 million copies. (1999). The most important newspapers in the left are Silski visti and Tovarishch. Large Russian newspapers such as Komsomolskaja Pravda and Argumenty in Fakty have entered the market with attachments addressed to Ukrainian readers.

Radio broadcasting has been around since 1926 and TV since 1952. The three national TV channels are divided between the state-owned company (Ukrainian Derzjavna Teleradiokompanija) two TV channels and commercial companies such as Inter, Kanal 1 + 1 and Studija 1 + 1. In addition, there is a network of regional TV companies. The radio is to a large extent commercialized. Ukraine has a state news agency, Ukrinform (founded in 1918, re-established as an independent agency in 1990), and several privately owned companies. There are 889 radio and 456 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to APARENTINGBLOG, the Ukrainian literature has the same origin as the Russian, namely early chronicles like the Igorkvädet. The first truly Ukrainian literature consists of folk poetry, which was compiled and recorded in a systematic form only in the 19th century.

Modern Ukrainian literature begins with Ivan Kotljarevskyi (1769-1838), who wrote a travesty on Vergilius Aeneiden. Nationalist Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), who also represents early modern literature, became an interpreter for demands of Ukraine’s self-determination.

Despite the policy of refreshment, Ukrainian literature flourished during the late 19th century. In part, this was due to the cultural freedom that existed in the then Austrian Galicia, where writers like Ivan Franko worked.

Among the Ukrainian-speaking authors in the then Russian part of Ukraine are Lesia Ukrajinka, Mychajlo Kotsiubynskyj and Volodymyr Vynnytchenko. Most significant of the writers who chose to write in Russian is Nikolaj Gogol (1809–1852), who has depicted Ukrainian folk life in several works. Russian writers such as Mikhail Bulgakov have also portrayed Ukrainian relations.

After an unprecedented cultural boom during the years of the October Revolution of 1917, Ukrainian art practitioners were forced to adapt to the socialist realism celebrated in the Soviet system. Ukrainian cultural life was severely affected by persecution during the 1930s and Ukrainian culture was reduced to pure folklore.

It was not until the late 1980s that repression ceased and a new generation of young Ukrainian writers emerged. Among the most famous is the poet Oksana Zabuzhko. She has also written prose works that depict current social issues from a feminist point of view, including Sestro, sestro (Sister, sister).

A feature film about the famine in Ukraine in the 1930s touches on the fact that the phenomenon of “fake news” existed before social media. Polish director Agnieszka Holland has filmed how a correspondent in Moscow wrote misleading articles to hide the famine in Ukraine, which was largely a work of Soviet dictator Stalin (see Older history). The articles were awarded awards in the United States before the truth came out. The movie Mr. Jones, which premiered in 2019, bears the name of a reporter who risked his life to reveal what really happened.

Ukraine has a rich folk music tradition with songs for special holidays, such as the harvest. Art music has its roots in older church music. Since the end of the 17th century, a number of Ukrainian musicians have made themselves known outside the country. Great efforts for domestic music were made by pianist and composer Mykola Lysenko, who founded a music institute in Kiev in the 19th century. Among other things, Lysenko wrote two Ukrainian national operas, one of which, Taras Bulba, is based on a story by Gogol.

Popular music gained a boost after independence in 1991. Ukrainian singer Ruslana won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004 with Wild Dances. In 2016, Jamala won with the controversial song 1944, which was about Stalin’s deportation of Crimean Tatars during the Second World War, among them her own family members. Russia tried to get the song disqualified because it was interpreted as criticism of the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Several of Ukraine’s cities are rich in historical monuments and other attractions, notably Kiev, Lviv and Odessa. Among other things, the Sofia Cathedral in Kiev and the old city center in Lviv are listed on the UN agency UNESCO World Heritage List.



IMF-adjusted budget is approved

After a long and heated debate, Parliament adopts a budget for 2016 with a deficit of 3.7% of GDP. This is the level required by the IMF to pay off the $ 1.7 billion withheld from the loan totaling $ 17.5 billion. Before voting on the budget, Parliament approved a number of changes to tax rules, including reduced corporate tax and more uniform income tax. Taxes on tobacco, alcohol and fuel are being raised. Parliament also gives the government the right to impose a trade embargo on Russia.

The Communist Party is banned

A Kiev court bans the Ukrainian Communist Party. Amnesty International condemns the ruling as a gross violation of freedom of expression.

Putin admits military involvement

President Putin says at his annual press conference that Russia has had personnel in Ukraine who “performed some military duties”, but he still denies that there are or have been regular Russian affiliations in the neighboring country. A few days later he says that Russia cannot abandon the Russian-speakers in southeastern Ukraine and “let the nationalists eat them up”.

Ukraine is excluded from the “ex-Soviet” free trade zone

Russia excludes Ukraine from the free-trade zone, which covers most of the former Soviet republics. The decision applies from the turn of the year, when Ukraine’s free trade agreement with the EU enters into force. President Putin said that the Ukrainian cooperation with the EU could lead to European goods entering the Russian market.

UN alarm about continued Russian interference in the east

The UN Commission on Human Rights reports that weapons and soldiers are still being imported into eastern Ukraine from Russia. In the separatist-controlled areas there are still murders, tortures and general lawlessness.


Attacks in Crimea intensify conflict

A state of emergency is proclaimed in the Russian-affiliated peninsula of Crimea after the power lines from Ukraine ruptured. Large parts of the peninsula are darkened and about 1.6 million people are without electricity. Russia accuses Ukraine of deliberately sabotaging the repair of power lines and says that gas supplies to Ukraine should be interrupted. Russia also threatens to stop exporting coal to neighboring countries. Ukraine cancels all goods deliveries to Crimea and threatens to counter Russian boycott of Ukrainian food with a boycott of Russian food. A few days later, the Minister of Energy reports that the collections from Russia have begun to decline.

Criticism of violence against protesters

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague says after a preliminary investigation that the security forces resorted to “excessive and indiscriminate” violence against protesters in Kiev in 2014, but that the violence cannot be described as a crime against humanity. The ICC continues to investigate developments in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine.

Discrimination against homosexuals is prohibited

Parliament adopts a law that prohibits discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace. This has been one of the requirements for Ukrainians to be allowed to enter EU countries without a visa. In two previous votes, Parliament has refused to approve the law, and on the third attempt six votes are needed before the bill is supported by enough members. The President stressed that the law did not mean that Ukraine would approve same-sex marriage, which was put forward as an argument against it.


Many people ignore local elections

October 25th

Local elections are conducted, and are considered by many as an indirect referendum on President Poroshenko’s efforts. The breakaway republics in the east do not participate, and even in the important port city of Mariupol the election is canceled. OSCE observers say that the elections were generally conducted correctly and in a democratic way. But the government is urged to prevent rich ” oligarchs”to try to control the electoral process and the OSCE regrets that virtually all monitoring of the electoral movement in the media was purchased by the parties and candidates. The parties around Poroshenko make relatively good choices in the western parts of the country, while supporters of the deposed President Yanukovych have some success in the east and the south, but the results are not considered to be able to influence national politics.

Investigator: “Russian robot from rebel area shot down plane”

The Dutch Accident Investigation Board, which investigated the shooting down of the Malaysian passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in the summer of 2014, states in its report that the plane was hit by splits from a Russian Buk robot. The Commission states that the robot was fired from a rebel-controlled area, but the chairman notes that the question of who is behind is not within the Commission’s mandate. The Russian Foreign Ministry immediately rejects the information that the robot should have been suspended from rebel-controlled territory and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rjabkov calls the entire investigation “angled”. According to Russia, the particles that damaged the planet were of a kind found only in older weapons, which were phased out in Russia but which Ukraine still has in stock.

New peacekeepers

President Poroshenko and Chancellor of Germany Merkel express “cautious optimism” after a Paris summit aimed at stabilizing the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. Russian President Putin and France’s President Hollande also attend the meeting. The Praetorian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk announce that local elections they announced in September, and would hold in October and November, are postponed until next year. The message is welcomed by the Ukrainian government as well as by the US and the EU.


Air and train traffic to Russia is stopped

Since the Kiev government banned Russian airlines from flying to Ukraine, Russia has been responding to closing Russian airspace for Ukrainian companies. The Ukrainian state railway company terminates the cooperation with the Russian state rail freight companies.

Separatists force out voluntary organizations

Luhansk’s separatist leaders ban ten foreign NGOs, including MSF, and order them to leave the area immediately. They are charged with “serious crimes” against local regulations. UN personnel in Luhansk also receive orders to leave immediately. In October, MSF is also banned from working in Donetsk, where the organization is accused of spying.

Russian orders are believed to have dampened the fighting

September 5

President Poroshenko says that the ceasefire in the east has been respected for the first time in a whole week. There is much evidence that the Russian government has urged separatists to avoid new fighting so far. Russia is shifting foreign policy focus from Ukraine to Syria, where it wants to strengthen support for the regime in its fight against the Islamic State extremist movement.

The truce gets another chance

1 September

The Ukrainian army and the Russian-backed separatists agree to make another attempt to make the ceasefire work.


Constitutional change provokes nationalist anger

In a first vote, Parliament approves a constitutional amendment that gives the country’s provinces, including the rebel-controlled areas in the east, increased self-government. The proposal is one of the elements of the ceasefire agreement concluded in Minsk in February. Outside Parliament, nationalists are mainly demonstrating against the proposed constitutional change. Three policemen also die from a grenade thrown at them and over 130 people, most of them police and national guard, are injured during a couple of days of turmoil. The government accuses the Nationalist Party of Svoboda of having been behind the unrest. A member of Svoboda who is suspected of throwing a hand grenade was arrested. The Radical Party, which has 21 of the coalition parties’ 302 seats in parliament, announces that it is leaving the government in protest of the constitutional amendment.

Private lenders grant debt relief

Ukraine is promised by private lenders to have 20 percent of its debt of US $ 18 billion written off and the repayment of the remainder extended to 2019. Finance Minister Jaresko says the saved sum will be used for social support and defense. Prime Minister Jatsenjuk describes the debt relief as a blow to “the enemy of Russia”, which he said was aimed at a Ukrainian state bankruptcy.

Ukrainian director imprisoned in Russia

Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov is sentenced to 20 years in prison for terrorism by a Russian military court. He is accused of organizing assassination fires in pro-Russian party offices in Crimea in connection with the Russian annexation in 2014. Among other things, the EU and Amnesty International criticize the verdict for being politically motivated and based on unsavory claims.

Alarms about threats to observers

OSCE observers say that they have never been exposed to threats and provocations during the recent weeks during the conflict in eastern Ukraine. For the most part, it is the Russian-backed separatists who are responsible for the harassment, says the Turkish chief of the observer force.

Russian-friendly artists are blacklisted

The government publishes a list of 13 artists and actors whose work must not be performed in Ukrainian radio, television or in the country’s cinemas because of their views on Russian President Putin and Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Most are popular Russian artists but among them is also the French actor Gérard Depardieu, who is close friend of Putin. In addition, 38 books are banned by Russian writers and journalists accused of “advocating fascism” and humiliating the Ukrainian nation.


Russia stops UN court on downed plane

Russia vetoes the UN Security Council against the establishment of an international court to investigate those responsible for the shooting of a Malaysian passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The Dutch Prime Minister vainly appeals to President Putin before the UN vote not to stop the court. Russia claims it is too early to start investigating any before the international investigation into the crash is over.

“Pure” police force is inaugurated

In Kiev, a new police force of about 2,000 members will be inaugurated, which in the long term will replace the previously unknown police known for corruption. The new corps has been trained by US police and has been selected from 33,000 candidates. Similar police forces are to be deployed in a number of other major cities.


Protests against “human shields” in the east

Several hundred civilians conduct an unusual protest demonstration outside the headquarters of the “People’s Republic of Donetsk”. They demand that the separatists move the rocket ramps located in residential areas because they attract fire from the government forces. The protesters accuse the separatists of using civilians as human shields.

Heavy escalation to the east

Struggles surrounding the government-controlled communities of Marinka and Krasnohorivka west of Donetsk are reported to be among the hardest to plummet since the ceasefire was signed in February. The OSCE reports that large quantities of weapons have been transported to a rebel-controlled area nearby, shortly before the fighting broke out.


Georgian ex-president becomes Ukrainian

Poroshenko announces that former Georgian President Micheil Saakashvili has been granted Ukrainian citizenship and appointed governor of Odessa. Saakashvili is contentious in his home country that he left after his presidency (2004–2013), and has been requested to be extradited there by the current rulers.

Russian opposition testifies to Russian involvement in Ukraine

A report completed by colleagues to the murdered Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov in February claimed that at least 220 Russian soldiers have been killed in the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The data is based on media reports and interviews with relatives of Russian soldiers who have been killed in battle in the neighboring country. The report claims that Russian forces have made two major offenses into Ukraine, in the summer of 2014 and the winter of 2015, and that both intrusions were of crucial importance in strengthening the position of the separatists. According to the report, which was largely compiled by Nemtsov before being shot to death a short distance from the Kremlin, all Russian soldiers must have formally concluded their contracts with the army before being sent across the border. Their relatives were threatened with prosecution if they revealed anything. Support to the Ukrainian separatists has, according to the report, cost the Russian state over SEK 8 billion. The Russian leadership refuses to comment on the information.


American soldiers to Ukraine

About 300 U.S. Army soldiers arrive to train Ukrainian soldiers over the next six months. A Russian spokesman says this could lead to serious destabilization of the situation.

Supporters of Yanukovych are killed

A Russian-friendly journalist and a former MP who supported former President Yanukovych are both found dead in Kiev. In a short period of time, several politicians with close ties to Yanukovych have apparently committed suicide, though under unclear circumstances.

Russia is identified as a threat

Ukraine adopts a new security doctrine which, among other things, identifies Russia as a long-term threat to the country and states that membership in NATO is Ukraine’s only credible guarantee of its security and territorial integrity.

Totalitarian propaganda is prohibited

Parliament bans communist and Nazi propaganda. Among other things, street and city names with communist sounds, as well as symbols and songs, are forbidden. At the same time, Parliament adopts a separate law recognizing the role played by the nationalist movement during the Second World War, sometimes in collaboration with Nazi Germany.

Right-wing extremist gets top job in defense

The leader of the right-wing movement The Right Sector is appointed as advisor to the Chief of Defense Staff. The appointment is said to be part of the work of coordinating the volunteer forces’ efforts with the army. The leader Dmytro Yarosh is internationally called for by the Russian regime for “stirring up terrorism”.

New Russian films are banned

A law comes into force that prohibits the viewing of Russian films and TV series recorded after January 1, 2014.

Crimean TV in Crimea is silenced

The Crimean Tatar TV station ATR is forced to stop broadcasting after the Russian state media agency refused to renew its license. Ever since the annexation of Crimea, the pro-Ukrainian media voice has generally been subject to harassment by the Russian authorities.


Self-government in the east – on Ukrainian terms

Parliament adopts two laws on increased self-government for the rebel-controlled areas in the east; However, the autonomy requires that the separatists first conduct local elections under Ukrainian law under international supervision. The laws are condemned by the rebels and the Russian government as a violation of the ceasefire agreement.

IMF support comes into force

The IMF grants a US $ 17.5 billion aid program, of which $ 5 billion is paid out immediately. The program replaces one that was promised less than a year ago but which was constructed in a way that was not enough to stabilize the Ukrainian economy. The IMF loan is part of a total international support of around $ 40 billion, which is, among other things, given as bilateral loans from a number of countries. Sweden contributes an interest-free loan of $ 100 million. International support is largely to strengthen the Ukrainian foreign exchange reserve.

Putin acknowledges early Russian involvement in Crimea

Russian President Putin tells in a TV documentary how he ordered the military and security services to prepare for the annexation of Crimea several weeks before the “referendum” on self-government conducted by separatists on the Ukrainian peninsula. He has previously acknowledged in retrospect that the Russian military participated in the conquest of Crimea but did not allow such detailed Russian involvement at the political level at such an early stage.

Heavy interest rate hike

The central bank raises the key interest rate from 19.5 to 30 percent in an attempt to stabilize the currency and curb inflation. The hryvnia has lost 80 percent of its value against the US dollar since the turn of the year. In January, prices were on average 28.5 percent higher than a year earlier.


Explosion attacks in Kharkiv

In the large city of Kharkiv, which has been mostly quiet so far, three people are killed and ten injured when an explosive charge according to eyewitnesses is thrown from a car into a crowd during a peace demonstration. Police describe the act as a terrorist attack.

A new ceasefire agreement is signed, but the fighting continues

After 17 hours of negotiations in Minsk, Poroshenko, Putin, Hollande and Merkel agree on a new ceasefire agreement signed by the so-called contact group – the Ukrainian and Russian governments, separatists and the OSCE. The ceasefire is to take effect after three days, which means, among other things, that heavy weapons must be pulled away from the front line and that a five to seven mile wide buffer zone is created there. This is far from a broad political solution to the conflict. The political status of the separatist-controlled areas is unclear, as is how the Russian-Ukrainian border is being guarded. During the first day after the ceasefire agreement was signed, at least 18 people are killed in ongoing fighting, according to Ukrainian sources. Three days after the ceasefire came into force, the Ukrainian soldiers begin to withdraw from Debaltseve, where the attacks by the separatists became overwhelming. According to the Ukrainian government, the separatists have, over the past 24 hours, received support from Russian tanks, artillery and ground troops. The EU, The US and the OSCE jointly condemn the advancement of separatists as a clear violation of the ceasefire. Despite the ongoing fighting, a prisoner exchange is carried out. 139 Ukrainian soldiers and 52 rebels are released outside Luhansk.

Military escalation ahead of a peace meeting

The days before a new planned summit in Minsk, Russian soldiers in Crimea and near the Ukrainian border begin exercises. Separatists in eastern Ukraine are intensifying their fighting to the highest level since the war broke out. The day before the summit, according to the Ukrainian government, at least 46 people were killed, including 16 in a rocket attack against the government-controlled city of Kramatorsk, where the Ukrainian army has its eastern headquarters.

Acute economic crisis

The Ukrainian economy has almost collapsed. The central bank gives up attempts to keep the hryvnia rate up through support purchases, whereupon the value of the currency immediately collapses by 30 percent against the US dollar. Instead, the policy rate is raised from 14 to 19.5 percent in an attempt to curb inflation, which in December was almost 25 percent on an annual basis.

The worsening crisis situation leads to feverish diplomatic activity

The fighting hardens on all fronts. One week into February, the most panic situation prevails. After negotiations with President Poroshenko, German Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande of France travel to Moscow to hand over a peace plan to President Putin, but a spokesman for Merkel says there are no signs of an imminent breakthrough.


Failed attempt for ceasefire

At the end of January, new attempts are made to negotiate a ceasefire, but the meeting in Minsk will end in nothing. According to OSCE representatives who took part in the talks, the rebels refuse to even discuss the application of the agreement signed in September.

More Western money

EU finance ministers agree to give Ukraine a new loan of EUR 1.8 billion to avoid the country’s bankruptcy. They argue that more money can be allocated later. At the same time, the United States provides an equally large loan and says that the country is prepared to tighten sanctions against Russia once again if necessary.

At least 5,000 killed so far

The death toll in the war passes 5,000 on 22 January and, according to the UN, may be significantly higher. At least 30 people are killed and about 80 injured when the Donetskrebeller launches long-range rockets at Mariupol.

Setback for the army in Donetsk

A few days after President Poroshenko accused Russia of sending at least another 500 regular soldiers and tanks to eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian army is forced to retire from the Donetsk airport. Ukraine and the US accuse separatists of having expanded their territory beyond what was stipulated in the ceasefire agreement they signed in September. During one of the most bloody days of the war, about 30 people were killed, eight of them civilians when a bus is shot in Donetsk. The Donetsk rebels say they are preparing for a new offensive after taking the airport after eight months of fighting.

Civil bus shot to the east

At least twelve civilians are killed and several injured when a bus is shot a few miles from Donetsk. The shooting should have happened when the bus was at one of the army roadblocks, leading the suspects to the rebels. However, they deny that they were behind the fire.

Interpol is looking for Yanukovych

Interpol puts Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovych on his list of aspiring people. He is wanted for embezzlement and financial mismanagement.

Ukraine Culture

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