Sunday, October 15, 2006


I would like to finish my Eastern European sketches with the one of Ukraine. There is so much to say but I cannot find the right words. The story of our 2 countries is the story of love and pain that lasts for centuries. We were together and apart and then togther and then apart... For those of you who know TV series "Friends" , from my point of view the story of Russia and Ukraine is the story of Ross and Rachel: "I love Ross - I hate Ross! I love Ross - I hate Ross!"... Even the names sound very similar :-))
Ukraine is very close to evry Russian heart because most of us have relatives and friends there. Historically, Ukraine, Russia and Beylorussia (being Slavic nations) were most close to each other which led to very close cultural, social and economic interchange. And frankly, now if someone blindfolds me and takes me to a city in Ukraine, I would hardly be able to tell that I am not in Russia. We are so similar from traditional, cutural, historical, social, religious etc. point of view. And if a person were walking along the street in my home city I would never be able to say if he is Russian or Ukrainian.

I mean, when you cross a border from England to France you KNOW you are in France or by the same token from Bulgaria to Greece. You most definitely can tell an Englishman, from an Italian, a Greek, a Finn. And even if some Ukrainians will not like me for that, but I have to say it: I don't see much difference between us, we started as one country more than 10 centuries ago, then we drifted apart but we were constantly drawn in together... So I cannot see a reason (except for political ambitions of some people) why we cannot be together...

But to be fair to Ukrainians, I would like to draw your attention to some things that are particular to them, some unique pecularities (I understand that they might be offended that every single foreigner calls them "Russians" not seeing any difference whatsoever). If you respect these you will be very welcome in Ukraine:
1. The capital of Ukraine is Kiev and it is very different from Moscow, much older and thus has a lot of historical heritage, especially from religious point of view. That's where our orthodoxy comes from. The famous Sofia Kievskaya cathedral is one of the most important and sacred monuments in orthodox relegion.
2. The Ukrainians have their own language - Ukrainian. And though it is very similar to Russian, it has some pecularities in vocabulary and spelling.
3. The famous Russian borsch (soup) actually originates from Ukraine and Ukrainians are very proud of that. And these guys do like to eat good food and a lot. And they like people who eat a lot. So if you happen to visit a Ukrainian home you will be "fed to death" in a good sense. This is the famous Ukrainian hospitality.
4. As Kent is the garden of England, Ukraine was the garden of the USSR and it still has the best wheet, vegetables and fruit due to its southern location relative to Russia. Great wine too: the Crimea produces one of the best wines I ever tasted.

And when I say that Ukraine is very similar to Russia I by no means want to say that if you saw Russia you saw it all. Definitely go to Ukraine! There are so many spectacular places there: Kiev, Lviv, the Carpathian mountains, the Crimea and so much more! Just see the photos I posted!

For more information on Ukraine you can visit This site is really good because it gives you not only information on Ukraine you can get in Ukraine but Ukraine-related links in your country!

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