My article on the Ukraine elections, and new President, Zelenskyi.

My article on the Ukraine elections and new President was published here in the newsletter of Liberal International (British Group). At pages 13 – 15. With thanks to the editor, Stewart Rayment, and for editing the text to Mark Smulian of Liberator magazine, which is due to publish the article as well next month.
InterLib September 2019:

It is a .pdf file, which you can download, my article is at pages 13 – 15.

I have also put the unedited text of the Liberator magazine article, below.

In the space I didn’t have time to cover in any detail what the election observation involves, or what was and wasn’t done during the election that either broke election law or in inventive and imaginative ways got round the spirit of the election laws. I give some account of why I am sympathetic to former President Petro Poroshenko – I could give rather more reasons and concrete examples – but at the same time I didn’t have enough space to outline my criticisms of him, and more reasons why I am cautiously optimistic about President Zelenskyi. Nor was I able to talk about what living in Ukraine is actually like and the many normal and unusual things (for someone from Britain), huge number of extreme contrasts and paradoxes. I’m always happy to talk about these topics from my own experience to anyone interested.

For those who want some detail about the mechanics and outcome of the election I recommend this blog by my friend and Long Term Observer election colleague, Alex Folkes:
Ukraine’s President gets what he wants out of Parliamentary polls but wants more

July 27 ‘Ukraine’s president gets what he wants out of parliamentary polls but wants more’.

I have also put the unedited text of the Liberator magazine draft article, here:

Ukraine’s Comedian is no comic. Great hope & some chance on democracy’s eastern border.


Article for Liberator magazine (UK Liberal political magazine), published edited in the newsletter of Liberal International British Group. This is a Word .doc document.

My latest short visit to Ukraine & election observation work.

What I was doing last week.
My 11th election observation mission for OSCE / ODIHR on behalf of the UK FCO observing elections in the Balkans & former Soviet Union. Deployed by David Kidger of SOLACE Enterprises as Short Term Observer (STO), and SOLACE / Godfrey Cromwell of BEWC as Long Term Observer (LTO), since February 2007. This time deployed as a Short Term Observer to Lviv. I observed the Parliamentary election with my partner and our local staff in the Peremyshlyani district, south of Lviv.

My 8th visit to Ukraine since 2014, as election observer & / or University volunteer, and occasional tourist, working in my 5th region of the 7 I’ve visited (& many regional level cities, numerous towns and villages).

The OSCE election observation mission final report will be published in a couple of months but it is reasonable to say, from the Preliminary Statement, that people in Ukraine were freely able to vote for who they wanted to, in an election which was largely very professionally run by the many people administering it.

More information on the mission to observe the Parliamentary elections in Ukraine can be found here:

OSCE /ODIHR Election Observation Mission to the Early Parliamentary Elections, 21 July 2019.

UK backs independent media in Ukraine, & other reforms. Praise and concern.

I posted this comment on Facebook, especially aimed at Ukrainian professional friends who work on media related projects, and anyone who cares about reforms.

… and other friends working on media related projects may by interested in this UK FCO (Foreign Office – Foreign Ministry) announcement about support to independent media in Ukraine.
“Foreign Office Minister of State Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon will today (Tuesday 2 July) announce that the UK is supporting independent media in Ukraine and the wider region through a new £9million three year project, as he attends the Ukraine Reform Conference in Canada. The announcement comes ahead of the first Global Media Freedom Conference in London next week.”
And other political reforms.

It was clear from my three months working in Ukraine recently that media independence – at local and regional level as well as national – is of vital importance, and supporting investigative and political journalism. The lack of local political reporting (except some by television, and citizen journalists), and the obvious concerns for their livelihood or safety of even fairly low key independent journalists, hinder the ability to inform the public.

There are two parts of the four reform priorities set out that I am continually uneasy about:
“We must remain focussed on fundamental reforms: first, reform of the judiciary; second, a well-designed privatisation programme; third, legislation to dismantle monopolies; and, fourth, reforms to media ownership that ensure a free and fair press.”

Judges. I’ve met many Ukrainian judges, in many places and they strike me as being as professional, educated and independent as judges I’ve met in Western Europe (if rather younger than many of the judges in the UK). Of course I haven’t seen them in cases, and have only met briefly, but I’ve been impressed by the regional, city and town judges that I’ve met. As one judge said to me four years ago, people criticise judges but they don’t usually criticise the judge in a case that they are in, or a judge that they know personally. I don’t know the judges at national or Kyiv level who have been often embroilled in controversy – and heavely criticised by Maidan and civil society activists and reformers. But the principle of judicial independence is something that should not be lightly tampered with.

Secondly, this statement talks about a “well-designed privatisation programme.” That is better than the gung ho usually American and London American backed think tanks who seem to think privatisation is an end in itself. There are only practical reasons in favour of or against state ownership or privatisation of utilities and monopolies for example. Being done on ideological grounds is a bad reason. Being done badly will discredit the reform process in Ukraine and set it back.

Nearly every ordinary person I met in Ukraine was most concerned about the cost of utilities, the poor quality / cost of health care, lack of good job opportunities at home for skilled workers and professionals with higher education, and they wanted the War to end. No Ukrainian President can wave a magic wand to solve the first or the last. Only Putin / the Russian State or Army can end the last. On the former at least (as I’ve been arguing for years) there is now big investment into renewable energy in Ukraine, and an emphasis on energy efficiency (much of the latter backed by aid from foreign taxpayers). New windows in very many schools that I visited was a very good start for the children and staff in them.

In Contact. ВКонтакте (V Kontakte).
I also posted it on the ‘Russian speaking’ social media VK (In Contact) which is still used by many in Ukraine, especially popular with Russian speaking young people, even though it has been restricted. Ukrainian government policy and communication fails to reach this audience especially, measures such as (quite reasonably) restricting Russian owned social media without preparing people for alternatives was a particular own goal. One that the new President, a first language Russian speaker like many in Eastern and Central and southern Ukraine, probably understands better than most.

Shakespeare in Chernihiv, and Zaporizhzhya, North central, and South East Ukraine.

One thing puzzled me continually in the lovely historic small city of Chernihiv. Everywhere I go, since my brother Pat was creating Shakespeare Magazine, I see Shakespeare connections. There is always everywhere some link to William Shakespeare.


But not in Chernihiv. I didn’t see any link at all in this cultured modern Ukrainian city.


Until my very last night. Going to call in to a bar to see the barman that I knew, Rosti (Rostislav), I saw this poster on a door next to the entrance to the basement bar. For a performance at the Theatre in the city a few days earlier.


A one man performance by Valerii Chilyaev. In my last week of work in the town I probably walked past a giant banner advertising this event, as it was on at the main theatre on the main square. 20 April. “Performance after the performance”. A one man show including extracts from Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night or What You Will. By Valerij Chyglyayev, Honored Artist of Ukraine.


By contrast as soon as I arrived in Zaporizhzhya, the post industrial post Soviet city in the South East I saw a Shakespeare poster immediately. Although this isn’t a surprise in the Faculty of Foreign Philology (Language) in a city that is a centre of Shakespeare scholars in Ukraine. A week earlier there had a been a whole host of events, put on by students for students across the Zaporizhzhya National University, to celebrate the bard’s birthday. I saw a poster for one postgraduate giving a seminar, and then this noticeboard with several others. All badged as part of the large scale ‘Shakespeare Days in Ukraine 2019’ linked running festival of events across the country. Many of the links promoted by the energy and ideas of Professor Nataliya Torkut.


Just one of the presentations was by Oksana Sobol, speaking on Shakespeare and Nazi ideology. How the texts and words were used both to support and resist Nazi ideology. Oksana gave the same presentation to third year students immediately after my talk to them, on 10 May, about Shakespeare Magazine.


When talking about Nazi attempts to co-opt Shakespeare one can’t but help laugh that Hamlet here is Gamlet (like that well known magician, Garry Potter). Ironic as well that this talk was taking place yards from where Hitler gave two speeches in 1943, the day after victory over the Nazis was celebrated. Our civilised cultural links have survived and grown stronger.


With thanks to Christina Bondarenko for original and additional translation.

Back in Ukraine as a professional International Election observer.

From 11 Feburary to 1 May I have been working in Ukraine as an election observer for the election of the President. Apart from training, briefings and meetings in Kyiv, I worked for two and a half months in the Chernihiv Oblast (region) in the north of Ukraine, 100km north of Kyiv. My team, Long Term Observer Team 28 (LTO28) covered the small city, towns and districts of Nizhyn, Pryluky and Bakhmach, south of the historic city of Chernihiv, the regional capital.
Deployed by SOLACE International Elections, joint with the British East West Centre, on behalf of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to join the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Election Observation Mission to Ukraine for the Presidential Election, 31 March and 21 April 2019.

Birmingham and Zaporizhia, Ukraine. Twin cities, back in the USSR?

Thanks to the library catalogue prompt at the Library of Birmingham, & the helpful staff of the Archives section, after 4 years of enquiries I’ve found the evidence that Zaporizhzhya in Ukraine is or was twinned with Birmingham in Great Britain. People in Zaporizhia remember this but no one in Birmingham seemed to. The sixth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 750,000 people.

I hadn’t thought to look for the spelling Zaporozhe – but the library catalogue software prompted me, “did I mean …” and up came one sole result. A record from 1980 of a typed document with no length and no author. ‘Zaporozhe : Birmingham’s twin city in the USSR’.
Typescript (photocopy), [1980]

And a helpful member of the Archives & Collections team volunteered to look if there were any other items at the same class number. She came back with three slim card folders with A4 photocopied documents.

These included ‘Programme for the visit to Birmingham of a civic delegation from Zaporozhye U.S.S.R, 24th Sept.-1st October 1973’


‘Communique of the first meeting of the twin cities of the USSR and UK’
Typescript (photocopy), 1987.

The twin cities met in Donetsk in July 1987.

I hope that these Birmingham – Zaporizhzhia links can be rekindled. I first was told about them by Assistant Professor Marina Vorybyova at Zaporizhzhya National University in October 2014. That was my second visit to the city and Ukraine, and first visit as a volunteer honorary Professor. I’ve been back four more times since (including volunteering and a lengthy work trip to Ukraine) and will be there again in the Spring.

The 1980 twin city pamphlet is a fascinating 7 page read, by the Birmingham Branch of the Great Britain USSR Association with the help of the Centre for Russian and East European Studies of the University of Birmingham. Contact M. J. Berry.

Of course the full, lavish & wide ranging programme for the 1973 delegation from the Soviet city included a tour of Shakespeare’s birthplace & performance of Romeo & Juliet in Stratford upon Avon. This is fitting as Zaporizhzhya is home of the Ukrainian Shakespeare Centre. You can read more about that on the Shakespeare Magazine website.

Thanks to Wikipedia for explaining the naming (and statistics):, though there are more different transliterations in English that you can see.
Zaporizhia (Ukrainian: Запорі́жжя [zɑpoˈriʒʒɑ] Zaporizhzhya) or Zaporozhye (Russian: Запоро́жье [zəpɐˈroʐjɪ]), formerly Alexandrovsk (Russian: Алекса́ндровск[ɐlʲɪˈksandrəfsk]; Ukrainian: Олександрівськ [ɔlɛksɑndriu̯sʲk])
(Viewed 29/01/2019).

These are the transliterated into Latin letters name variants that I have come across (I may have missed some)
Zaporizhia / Zaporozhe / Zaporizhzhia / Zaporizhzhya / Zaporozhye / Zaporizia

The third record the archivist found doesn’t even appear on the catalogue when searched under that Call Number LP 31.8. (It was mistyped as P 31.8). A great bit of old fashioned library research.

With thanks to Bob Deed of Birmingham, friend of Ukraine and expert SE Europe traveller, for his continued support in finding out about these links between two major European industrial powerhouses.

Zaporozhe Birmingham s twin city in the USSR scan

Birmingham civic delegation ex Zaporozhye USSR

First meeting twin cities USSR and UK 1987

Michael Dobson’s talk on ‘Spaces for Shakespeare’ in Zaporizhzhia, south east Ukraine.

A review for Shakespeare Magazine of Professor Michael Dobson’s lecture in the ‘Shakespeare Days in Ukraine’ series, and as part of his tour of Ukraine, in April and May this year. This is on the Shakespeare Magazine website. The review includes the link for the Shakespeare Days in Ukraine festival from this Spring. A very impressive programme of events coordinated by Professor Nataliya Torkut and members and friends of the Ukrainian Shakespeare Centre. It is worth noting that Zaporizhzhia is in the region next to the War. It is a completely peaceful city despite a war in parts of two regions of the country 100 miles away. There are more shopping malls than Liverpool and more sushi restaurants than Manchester (pity, I don’t like sushi). I would have said more coffee shops also but the UK has had a further explosion of coffee shops in the last 18 months so we’re probably equal to this large city in SE Ukraine, bigger than Liverpool, that nearly no one in the UK has heard of. Great support for the people there that an intrepid Shakespeare public scholar from Birmingham has been to visit. (There are many alternate spellings, Zaporizhia from Russian, is more common still online, and you see Zaporozhye also). There are many great things about the city – Russian, Soviet, Ukrainian, industrial, post-industrial, concrete, green and nature; but the roads and pavements are terrible except in some public areas, and the driving catastrophic.


The Ukrainian Shakespeare Centre website:

Mostly in Ukrainian (a few links in English).

If you’re in Zaporizhia South East Ukraine there is a great beer scene growing.

This is a review of AmBar beer bar in Zaporizhia / Zaporizhzhia, a major city in south east Ukraine. The review compares briefly with a few micro-brewery / ‘craft’ beer and brewery bars, and is the original I posted on TripAdvisor. It turns out that TripAdvisor policy is that you cannot compare places with each other, so the review must only be about the particular place. That doesn’t do justice to why I thought AmBar is the best bar in the city to try out a range of Ukrainian beers with food, so I’m posting an expanded version of the original review here.

Out of an increasing choice, this is probably the best bar in the city to try a range of mainstream and speciality Ukrainian beers, along with food. While Beer Book, recommended by American travel writer Meghan Fox and locals, is the only US/AUS/UK style craft beer bar I have found (a small three room basement bar), the beers there tend to be more extreme craft beers. The excessively hoppy or strong types favoured by ‘craft beer’ fans. On the other hand the excellent Tirlo, which does beer and food (and other drinks), has mainly mainstream national and ‘international’ branded beer, and the smart brew pub / craft brewery restaurants Pinta and out of centre Kronsbeer, do their own beer. Kronsbeer has an excellent range in its unlikely setting on a main road next to a car wash. I like bar restaurant AmBar, at Oleksandrivska, 88, behind the Palmyra mall complex, which serves probably the best range of Ukrainian styles of beer, and food that accompanies them (unlike the new small German style Limbier brewery, between the Theatre and Dubovka park, not limited to the dried fish and ‘chips’ – crisps & beer snacks). AmBar is a typical restaurant type ‘bar’ so best visited with friends. Opposite an apparently long established upmarket fish restaurant, Beluga, I’ve never noticed before. My friend and colleague Alesia introduced me to this bar, we visited twice, coming back with another University friend, and I will certainly visit again when I am next in town. The beer bars listed in my review are all expensive for Ukraine but high quality.

Locations. Pinta (traditional theme downstairs, modern glass and metal upstairs), Tirlo (beer hall size basement, sleek and modern) and Beer Book are fairly near each other to the north west (river direction) and a mile away in the centre of the main avenue. AmBar is a few miles away south east end of the Avenue near the University / Cathedral district not far from the Aurora shopping mall. Limbier (small modern brewery with a little bar where you can have a freshly poured pint or get takeaway) is about fifteen or twenty minutes walk from there, on the south west end of Troitska Street, over the tram tracks. Kronsbeer is south, on the edge of the outer Pivdenny District, about a mile from the main railway station. The best way to get between the three areas is to get someone to call a reputable taxi.

Note. Other choices are available. There are many trendy bars and restaurants – especially it seems in the Summer – along Mayakovskogo and surrounding streets but in my experience Ukrainian bars, restaurants and hotels want to sell ‘international’ branded drinks not good Ukrainian beer and wine. (An exception is the cheap and cheerful and good Puzata Khata traditional Ukrainian theme self service restaurant chain). You can also get very cheap takeaway beer – mass produced national and local and some increasingly tasty regional brews – from the numerous beer kiosks, some of which have been smartened up like those in the bigger neighbouring city of Dnipro. Or drink cheap local mass produced beer in some of the dingiest dives you’ve ever seen. Locals can tell you about those; the bars I describe are comparable to good beer bars in Western and Eastern Europe. Bastion should also get a mention here, as the first international type beer bar I found, though I don’t recommend the Carling and you will probably have to reserve a table as it is quite a small cellar when the outdoor seating is not in use, and you have to have a table. It took me several times to find it again after visiting first with a Polish and Belorussian colleagues.

Tips for LFC fans going to Kiev (spelt Kyiv in official translations).

Tips for LFC fans going to Kiev (spelt Kyiv in official translations).


To add to my previous post, 8 May 2017.

Kyiv tips for Eurovision & other visitors.


  1. Nearly everywhere takes cards. Euros are very easily exchanged at fair rates but pounds will probably be exchanged everywhere. Exchanges on the street are perfectly good. Officially you have to pay in Ukrainian currency.
  2. Near the stadium there is a good Silpo supermarket in the basement of Gulliver mall.
  3. On Shota Rustaveli Street there are good Georgian restaurants. I’ve been to one and guessing the other is good.
  4. Good value self-service Ukrainian food at Puzhata Hata (Пузата Хата) e.g. a branch diagonally opposite the right hand Kreshchatik side of the Bessarabaska market.
  5. Porter pub has several branches around the centre. One is near the market, over the road on the left hand side away from the main street Kreshchatyk. Very near the LFC fan zone. One just off the other end of the main street and one on Sofiyska.
  6. Look out for shops and shopping centres in the underpasses and subways. Also many good bars and restaurants in the streets off Kreshchatyk before you reach the Maydan Square.



Brief more details.

Supermarket. The giant Gulliver shopping mall is very near the stadium (entrance nearest the Palats Sportu metro, or on the opposite side through what looks like the business entrance. There is a good Silpo supermarket in the basement (find escalators down), & a restaurant. On the 5th floor (our fourth floor, ground = 1) there is a good food hall for takeaway type food. Plenty of vegetarian options, I even saw a Tofu burger as the second dearest burger on the menu. There is a small perhaps cheaper supermarket along (Bul.) Lesi Ukrainki, 5 minutes walk away from Gulliver, a few blocks, with a very cheap traditional cafe attached.


Nearby the mall there are good Georgian restaurants, a falafel stall (good for vegetarian and vegans), and slightly nearer the centre a branch of the chain self-service typical good value Ukrainian food Puzhata Hata (Пузата Хата) That branch is diagonally opposite the right hand Kreshchatik side of the Bessarabaska market. Look for a round red logo, and red writing. I spelt the name wrong in my earlier post.


Shops in underpasses. Ukraine is very hot in Summer and very cold in Winter. So they put shops and shopping centres underground, often in underpasses. Going along the main road from Gulliver mall to Bessarabska market (an old covered market) you may be surprised to find shops in the underpass. The next one in the direction of the main street Kreshchatyk you can get lost in there are so many twists and turns. Open at night to get through, with the shops closed. Under the main Maydan Square itself the whole underneath is a huge mix of prestige and regular shopping centre complex.


Pubs, bars, restaurants. It is normal in Ukrainian bars or ‘pubs’ to get food and drinks, so they look more like restaurants and you usually have to wait to be shown to a table. You can only get drinks but it is normal to get some food as well. I recommend it. As the FCO travel advice says, many drinks are stronger than at home. Their cheap ordinary lager is like our cheap ordinary lager (rubbish) but you rapidly get better, sometimes stronger, Ukrainian beer options, plus all the imported / foreign brands.


Porter Pub. Mentioned above. It’s like a Ukrainian Flannagan’s Apple but more civilised. A great rock covers & own songs band “Drive Music”, sometimes members of “The Brown Sugar” were playing in the branch on Taras Schevchenka last Friday night. Pub in Ukrainian / Russian = Паб.

There are good bars and restaurants on Prorizna. Khmilniy Knyaz on Prorizna is a British type craft beer bar (US / Aus / British type craft beer – not British type bar). Expensive for Ukraine – £16 for 3 beers & 3 small plates of food, good food and drink.

The area off Yaroslaviv, behind St. Sofia’s Cathedral is worth walking around to see lots of spectacular murals. A bohemian feel to it like similar districts in Berlin or Krakow. Thanks to my guide (& colleague) Sofi for showing me the murals district.


To add to my previous post, 8 May 2017.

Kyiv tips for Eurovision & other visitors.

Ukraine impressions February 2017.

As I arrive in Ukraine for my sixth visit since 2014, here are some as jotted impressions of my arrival and days in Ukraine last time, February last year. Photographs to follow.

Ukraine impressions February 2017.

Arriving at Zaporizhia airport. A small Soviet era regional airport – about the size of Derry, or Belfast city ten years ago, or Liverpool twenty years ago.

UN planes loom out of the lightening mist of dawn. Large aircraft and helicopters painted white with giant UN letters on the fuselage. From previous Ukrainian contributions to UN peacekeeping missions I presume.

Departing from the airport two weeks later, early on a Friday morning. The tiny terminal was crowded with two Kyiv flights and a Minsk flight within one hour of each other around 6.30 am. A small new departures hall required taking your bag off the one x-ray machine, out of the main building, around the side and a short walk towards the tarmac to the new departures. No one told me this, I followed another passenger fortunately.

30 – 40 minutes from the University side of the city (if no traffic); 40 (- 50 in traffic, a guess) to the river side of the city centre. Quicker if in a good car.
The airport is a couple of miles in the countryside on the edge of the city, past industrial, new suburban, and mixed industrial / residential district.

150 hr (about £4) in an unofficial taxi.

Information for tourists and travellers to Zaporizhzhia airport.*
The brand new (February 2017) tiny domestic departures lounge is located outside to the right (when you come out) of the bijou main terminal / check in. Round the corner and ahead 100 yards. It is big enough for 1 flight.
Internal flights are by UIA / МАУ, and Motor Sich, the airline associated with a giant local military and civilian aircraft and vehicle company. The Motor Sich plane was a new looking turbo prop. Slower but with customer service and a style that still feels like air travel is a special experience. The UIA plane was now a full size regular 737-800, unlike the smaller Boeing planes used in my first internal flights to then Dnipropetrovsk, & Zaporizhia in 2014 and 2015. Unlike the first time I took internal flights from this airport, 14 months earlier, the domestic flights were now almost entirely full (previously local residents, students and business people had stuck to the traditional train journeys, especially the overnight inexpensive sleepers).

[* For changing to internal from international flights in Kyiv & arriving at Dnipro airport see below, to be added. Arriving in 2018, the internal flights were again not entirely but very full].

A few Ukrainian festive traditions.
Pancake week. Not a pancake day (our Shrove Tuesday) but a whole week in the run up to Lent. Máslenitsa (Russian), Máslyana (Ukrainian). I was lucky to be visiting Ukraine in this week as Easter was very early.

Giving presents at midnight on New Year’s Eve, rather than on Christmas morning, Day or Eve.
Father Frost is the traditional Russian speaking world Father Christmas / Saint Nicholas / Saint Nicolaus / Santa Claus figure.
There is a New Year Tree rather than a Christmas Tree.

What noises animals make in the Russian speaking world.
Ducks – clack.
Frogs – crack.
Horses and crows – I think are the same as in Britain? I didn’t note a different noise in the amusing class where for some reason we discussed animal noises.

At and around the University.
Internet improved – the WiFi signal and coverage.
More classrooms and buildings improved.
Some buses more modern? [I’ve seen one modern bus so far on my first afternoon in Zap in 2018]. Locals were more used to the awful crowded mini-bus ‘buses’ marshrutkas.
Roads – no better. Still largely terrible. [2018, roads terrible, largely, and driving absolutely catastrophic, mostly, but not everyone, and still the cars avoid hitting people. Parts of the main intercity highway between Zaporizhia and Dnipro were improved, several sections were being worked on as we drove, and many sections were absolutely abysmal. My friend Eldar navigated the potholes as impressively as our leisure rally car team member, driver, Yuriy, had done when working in the Odessa rural districts].
More coffee shops and restaurants.

After a foot of snow or more and freeze in February came thaw and a huge volume of slush.
The University cleaners swept any of the laboriously cleared paths from the snow and even brushed any cleared patch, the paths were spotlessly clean. I even saw one brushing the ice clean. Possibly the only, vital, health and safety provision I have seen in Ukraine is the University taping off paths immediately underneath buildings – so that no one is hit by the giant icicles when they melt and break off.

The cleaners are gangs of old women and a few men (more for gardening), sometimes for clearing or gardening ‘volunteer students from Faculties’. Just as municipal sweepers and park horticultural workers (very committed to their work) across Ukraine seem to be usually old women and men. The same in Dnipro the municipality workers planting bedding plant displays along the river front beds, April 2018. Unlike in the UK Universities do not appear to have cut down on cleaning ladies (they are all ladies), though I doubt they are paid very much either.

Some prices.

ZNU 10/02/17.
In the student canteen
40 hr – £1.35 for borsch, salad and potatoes with meat and a juice drink.

In a trendy café a coffee could cost twice that, coffee & cake a fiver like in a regular coffee shop in the UK at the time (now rather dearer in more affluent areas). Though actually my latte in studenty bar / dancing venue ‘Amsterdam’ was only 20 hr (about 65p). It was dearer when the café bar had been part of the local Costa Coffee imitation chain, Coffee Life (and there was less competition from smart new expensive places). Alcoholic drinks (two or three) plus food for two cost £10.

In Tirlo / Тырло, my new favourite ‘bar’ it was £1 a pint (European 500ml or so) for national beer, more for stronger ones and rather more (expensive in Ukrainian terms) for imported or locally brewed branded as international / European brands. It is a chain type atmosphere but a nice one, (restaurant meets craft beer hall in Ukrainian terms).

[Note these are for a large post Soviet / post industrial city in SE Ukraine, more touristy places are dearer, but you can find expensive trendy places here, & both cheap & very / expensive places in the popular / main tourist cities just like here. In Dnipro, April 2018, I paid 50p for a national ordinary Ukrainian beer in the very cheap Hotel Dnipropetrovsk bar, an uninviting looking first floor room well stocked with national products, food & drink, with friendly staff; £2.60 for an imported Belgian Leffe brune on draught in the trendy friendly Reporter basement bar, £1.50 for their own branded one draught bland Ukrainian lager].

What I’ve been doing in Ukraine.
I first went to Ukraine as an election observer for the Presidential election when Petro Poreshenko was elected, after the former President fled. I liked it and returned three times (and this time) as a volunteer professor at Zaporizhzhya National University in a large city in SE Ukraine, and also for two months as a Long Term Observer of elections in two cities (with added after work contract ZNU Uni visit). Plus during third visit a few days tourism with my wife in Lviv / Lvov and Kiev / Kyiv, & other times meeting friends I’ve made. I was deployed as a Long Term Observer in 2015 in Odessa & Chernihiv for the OSCE/ODIHR mission.