Global Voices Online
Friday, January 27, 2006
Only a few Ukraine-based English-language blogs were around when the 2004 mass protests began, and, just like Ukraine in those exciting days, they received lots of unexpected attention. Some of these bloggers are no longer in Ukraine, but others have taken their place, and, although not numerous, Ukrainian blogs are quite diverse now.
Among those whose November and December 2004 archives preserve live accounts of the Orange Revolution are Le Sabot Post-Moderne (now dormant), TulipGirl, Orange Ukraine, Abdymok, Notes from Kiev, The Periscope, Foreign Notes, and Ukrainian Democracy. Additionally, Adrian J. Erlinger began posting his Orange Revolution notes from Lviv over at Leopolis in February 2005, and Stefan Iwaskewycz launched Orange Dykun, his second blog, to mark the revolution’s first anniversary, re-posting his June 2004-March 2005 listserve messages from Ternopil region and elsewhere in Ukraine.
A common complaint back in 2004 was that there didn’t seem to be a single Ukrainian blog by someone who opposed the Orange Revolution. Part of the reason may have been that the majority of English-language blogs were (and still are) written by expats (Estee is one of a handful of blogs by Ukraine natives; its style is at times redolent of Jonathan Safran Foer’s "Everything Is Illuminated"). The Ukrainian LiveJournal community is flourishing, however, and every possible point of view is, perhaps, overrepresented there – in Ukrainian and Russian, though. (There’s at least one known defector from LJ: Andrei Chernikov, a Ukrainian journalist who used to write for the Russian Kommersant during the Orange Revolution; Chernikov’s Blog is in Russian and covers Ukrainian politics, the media and other, less serious, matters.)
For over a year Ukraine has been stuck between two elections: the 2004 presidential vote, a poignant memory and a reference point for much of the current Ukrainian political discourse, and this year’s parliamentary race. Although there’re still no bloggers out there favoring politicians from the former regime, all major steps and missteps of Victor Yushchenko and his team cause heated dicussions, as they are sure to affect the outcome of the March 26 vote.
To get a taste of Ukrainian pre-election politics, visit Orange Ukraine (where Dan McMinn’s meticulous analyses often spill over into the comments section), Foreign Notes (where, among other things, Scott W. Clark and guest-blogger LEvko differ in their views on Yulia Tymoshenko’s policies), and Abdymok (a mazelike blog on “ultra-competitive ukrainian-style politics,” by Peter Byrne, former Kyiv Post staff writer, who, among other things, got expelled from Belarus in 1997 and was denied a Russian entry visa in 2005).
To see how Ukrainian politics relates to reality – and how it’s often divorced from it – check Stefan Iwaskewycz’s primary blog, Dykun. Stefan, a Ukrainian-American, often writes on his Ukrainian travels and on life in a small Western Ukrainian town of Pidhajtsi, where his family hails from.
Petro’s Jotter – written by a father of three, who also manages a Kyiv company “American style in a post-Soviet ‘business’ culture” – is another blog that covers both politics and the mundane: for instance, Kyiv is drowning in various parties’ campaign ads now, and Petro has started a photo collection of these attempts to attract voters.
For a seasoned Washington, D.C., political correspondent’s perspective on Ukraine and the politics surrounding it, stop by at Room 12A, a blog by Ethan Wallison, who moved to Kyiv this past summer.
For quick reference on what English-language media have been saying about Ukraine, go to Kiev Ukraine News Blog, where Nicholas compiles full-length articles on all major issues (source info is listed at the end of each item, which may be a bit misleading at first). This blog is devoid of its author’s personal views, but its value – besides informational – is sentimental: before the Orange Revolution, coverage of Ukraine was so sporadic, it often seemed the country didn’t exist; now it’s possible to update one’s clipping collection more than once a day!
Blogs focusing on specific non-political issues include Ukraine Adoption blog, a hub for those who have adopted a Ukrainian baby or are considering such an adoption, and Everybody I Love You, written by Stephan Clark, a Fulbright fellow spending ten months in Kharkiv, researching online marriage agencies.
Reincarnated--Stranded In Ukraine is a Simferopol-based, slice-of-life blog by a Malaysian medical student: recently, he chose Lviv over France as a weekend getaway destination – and was very impressed with this Western Ukrainian city’s architecture.
Among other bloggers exploring Ukraine are the Ranger at NVASHAG (his dream is to buy land in Transcarpathia and set up a vineyard there), and his friend Limey at Collected Whines, who often writes from Dnipropetrovsk (and also runs a soccer blog, Limey’s World Cup Blog).
Finally, many of these Ukraine blogs – including the now dormant RomkaBlog (in German) and Workhorse – have awesome photos to supplement, and sometimes substitute, the text: make sure you don’t miss them (or the links to the albums) when you’re browsing!