Краматорск, Каким Я Его Помню – Фото

Вчера я прочитал что Краматорчанки Требуют Отменить Мобилизацию.

Я начал вспоминать Краматорск – провел много время там Апрель и Май 2014 – как это было. Вот фото – следующее будет видео.

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Святослав Вакарчук – кто он? действительно…

Первоначально опубликовано на http://www.grahamwphillips.com – 3 января 2014

1SlavikВакарчук занимает уникальное место в современной украинской культуре. Он здесь безусловно первая звезда, и не только как звезда шоу-бизнеса, но и как человек с активной гражданской позицией. Его значимость в украине нельзя сравнить со звездой в других странах – здесь он больше король, чем звезда. Я уважаю его за хорошее образование (он закончил факультет физико-математических наук Львовского университета) и его вклад в шоу-бизнес – он ведь не только звезда в Украине, но и на всём постсоветском пространстве.

Vakarchuk Orange

‘Слава’ играл действительно большую роль в Оранжевой Революции – стоял на Майдане все это время и поддерживал ее сторонников. Он также много сделал для благотворительности. Вот сейчас ему 38 лет, и в следующем году будет 20 лет “Океану Эльзы“. Мне выпал шанс познакомится с Вакарчуком лично через нащего общего знакомого в Киеве, где мы однажды вместе провели вечер в пабе.

До этого я был на паре его концертов, однако через несколько минут общения мне стало ясно, что Вакарчук далеко не такой, каким я видел его на сцене, национальный патриот Украины. У него очевидно есть что-то от “звездной болезни”, чему я не был уж очень и удивлен. Vakarchuk1
Фактически, даже в период его, в последствии неудачной, депутатской деятельности, менее чем года, он вёл себя так, как будто Верховная Рада была своего рода концертной площадкой – даже иногда одевал солнцезащитные очки.

Общаясь с ним, мне конечно было интересно узнать его мнение об истории и политике, он же имеет репутацию эксперта.

Он со своей стороны, если о чем и хотел говорить, так это про девушек, как он стал звездой, других звездах, которых он знает, и в общем, как роскошно он живёт. Последнее конечно правда, в стране где заработать в шоу-бизнесе для многих практически невозможно, Вакарчук действительно богатый парень. К тому времени он уже заработал более 40 миллионов долларов.

И вот снова, спустя 9 лет после Оранжевой Революции, Вакарчук играет большую роль, но уже не ту,что раньше. Сейчас он будет прогуливаться по майдану, только если его лицо будет на ТВ. Дал все таки концерт 14го декабря, но только на сцене и только один час, хотя говорил что остается на всю Vakarchuk3ночь. Он даже не написал ни одной новой песни для Евромайдана – просто повторил популярную в свое время Вставай. Хотя читая его твиттер, можно подумать что он прямо таки герой баррикад. В 2004 может это было и так, но в 2013 Вакарчук геройствует сидя где-то в одном его домов. Интересна ли ему Украина в Европе, более чем продажа билетов на 20-летие Океана Эльзы? Сомнительно.

А после концерта на Майдане, точно так же, как и после того вечера в пабе, он умчится в своём Рендже Ровере.Я долго терпел этот его PR в Твиттере, но когда это становится слишком – вот что происходит.

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Но я тут не обижаюсь – это Вакарчук, он конечно же может делать так, как он хочет, ведь он – Звезда. Как Шекспир сказал – вес мир это сцена. И для Вакарчука, Евромайдан – просто очередной концерт.

Vakarchuk Euromaidan

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The Ghosts of Vozdvyzhenka


Originally published January 3rd 2014 on http://www.grahamwphillips.com (see below). By Graham

vozdvyzhenka-5There’s a certain irony to the hundreds either camped out on Maidan, or taking shelter in one of the occupied municipal buildings in Kiev. They lie, shiver as temperatures dip, just a couple of kilometres away from perhaps the prime residential development in all Ukraine. And it’s almost completely empty – it could accommodate their number many times over. Yet, as with so much about the place, the numbers for the 42-acre Vozdvyzhenka development have just never added up.

The idea for the brightly-coloured complex came at the start of the new century, with Ukraine booming, and talk it could even eclipse the likes of Latvia and Estonia as a new, post-Soviet powerhouse. The figures looked rosy indeed – growth of over 5% in 2002, 9.6% in 2003, shooting up to just over 12% in 2004, at which time Vozdvyzhenka construction was powering ahead, having begun in 2001. And so it was, the utopian urban enclave was to provide 400 luxury apartments and houses for the wealthy of Ukraine, and those outsiders wanting a piece of the action.

But to read about it now without the suffix, or prefix, ‘ghost town‘ is rare. It’s a ghost town which finds itself haunted by those young ladies of Kiev ever-keen for a photo-session backdrop –
Vozdvyzhenka6 Ukraine girl (1) Ukraine girl (3) Vozdvyzhenka 16

The background of the pleasing pictures is more than just a kind of elegant, upmarket Balamory, it’s a national Tymoshenko Yushchenko 2disaster. Yushchenko and Tymoshenko took over as the new Orange leaders, at the start of 2005, but despite all the enthusiasm at their coming, big business stalled investment in the country as they waited to see whether a raft of policy proposals, including mass re-nationalising, would come to pass. The pair’s greenness in managing a national economy, and an internecine relationship between the pair, saw growth down to 2.7% in 2005.

Still, Vozdvyzhenka continued to go up, with investors confident too much was in Ukraine’s favour for it to be down for long. They were right. Ukraine rebounded to over 7% growth in 2006, near 8% in 2007. But, that was it, as the global credit crisis hit, the Orange Revolution fell apart pulling Ukraine to the very abyss. Growth remained positive in 2008, as Vozdvyzhenka neared completion, but 2009 saw a plunge of 15%, mass Vozdvyzhenka 10unemployment, bankruptcy, and crippling currency devaluation. Investors and potential buyers fled from the £85m ‘urban village’, as they did from all major construction projects – work at the nearby Mirax Plaza, supposed to be Ukraine’s tallest skyscraper at around 200 metres, stopped overnight in early 2009, at 11 floors.

The value of the Vozdvyzhenka apartments fell from £500,000-plus for 120 sq metres, to, in the dog days of 2009, little more than £100,000. Development company Kievgorstroy-1 found itself having gone from looking at making a serious sum, to staring down the barrel of colossal losses. Their promotional material had once proclaimed:

Group DCH and company “Kievgorstroy-1” is realizing project of high-class residential district “Vozdvizhenka” in historical part of Kiev (district Gonchari-Kozhemaky), limited by streets Vozdvizhenskaya, Goncharnaya, Kozhematskaya and Degtarnaya.

High-class complex class deluxe is suppose construction of cottages and houses from 3 to 5-storey in architecture style the end of XIX century. In separate standing buildings will be fitness center, bank department, cigar-club, children club, billiard, restaurants and etc.

Till (sic – should be by) the end of 2008 investors are planning to finish construction of the first rate of project, including Vozdvizhenskaya, Goncharnaya, and part of Kozhematskaya. The full placing in commission of the district is planned on 2012.

>Perhaps feel most sorry, if you will, for those who did pay half a million plus for the apartments, many of them foreign investors sold on the idea their properties would soon be worth a million plus, never even moved in.

But then, the area always has been an anomaly. Could there even be a curse of Vozdvyzhenka? No one even knows when the area itself began. There are reports the founding of the area dates back to I AD, and Roman times, yet numerous excavations have failed to find traces of dwelling dating to that time. The first known Vozdvyzhenkasettlements date to 1150, less than a century before Kiev was near completely destroyed, in 1240 by the Mongol invasion of Rus.

As Kiev recovered, and rebuilt, Vozdvyzhenka became a mecca for artisans – potters, blacksmiths, stonemasons , furriers. Streets were named after the trades and materials – Degtyarnaya, oil tar, Kozhemyatskaya, from fur, Goncharnaya – pottery.

The beginning of the 16th century saw handicraft shops springing up, masters and traders settling there. Its future seemed assured, as Kiev headed into the 17th century as a major city in the Tsardom of Russia. Yet, yet, many of the structures had been erected quickly, with little regard to the unique topography of the area, iVozdvyzhenka 3n the depression of a valley as it is. When a fire in the early 19th century wiped out much of the construction there, no one could agree on how best to cultivate the complicated tract of land.

The name Vozdvyzhenka, incidentally, means something like ‘exaltation’ in English, and it comes from the Holy Cross Church constructed in nearby Podol in the late 18th century. But as Podol boomed, Vozdvyzhenka fell into wasteland in the 19th century.

You could argue these days it’s a kind of beautiful wasteland of unchecked optimism. And, in a country which so many marriages are based on just that (a Research & Branding Group survey showed 79% of Ukrainians getting married following their emotions, while only 15% were guided by ‘reasonable motives’), perhaps appropriate Vozdvyzhenka finds itself so oft-used for wedding photos –Vozdvyzhenka 24 Vozdvyzhenka 19 Vozdvyzhenka 21
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Broken Dreams Plaza – The Mirax Story


Originally published on http://www.grahamwphillips.com, 15th January 2014 (see below) – 

The current Ukraine crisis seems sure to see the breaking up of Ukraine, if that hasn’t already happened, before it turns 23 in August. The country of Ukraine as we know it, or knew it, hastily put together of composite parts, as WWII broke out, then independent as the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. This now hashtaggable #Ukrainecrisis seems that, as it is, the country’s prospects of emerging from young adulthood are uncertain. Yet, even before this, Ukraine had already endured troubles in its life.

There were the 90s? Ukraine’s difficult, or even broken, childhood, with an economy taking a yearly double-digit beating. Then the teens, a few bumps but more, halcyon days where everything seemed possible. Where it seemed like you could do anything. As Ukraine’s economy boomed into double-digit growth in the early 2000s, the sky was the opportunity.

In early teens, an idea was formed to build a soaring skyscraper, around that magic 200-metre mark, in the city’s central Podil area. It would show the world that Ukraine had passed post-Soviet. Ukraine was an adult, making its own way in the world, casting off the shackles, striking out on its own. It was to be finished just as Ukraine got ready to exit its teens, in 2010. Of course, there were other things in the works, other bold statements being made, but Mirax-Plaza was it, where it was at.

Mirax Plaza4Naturally, no one quite makes it without a little outside support, and so it was, Russian firm Mirax Group stepped in with the capital, and some real confidence. The glass-plated, cutting edge skyscraper was to feature 381 apartments, panoramic view restaurant, even a helicopter pad. The group assuredly announced they would return their investment within five years, with market specialists nodding on approval saying that land in Kiev, already expensive (and it was a Ukraine in which the hryvnia was 5 to the dollar, rather than today’s below 8), was rising in price every day making the smart money far in the sky.

As analysts admired the profits coming Mirax’s way, Ukrainians looked on in approval. In a west well-used to new skyscraper naysayers, you’dve been stretched to find a Ukrainian who didn’t swell with pride at the proclaimed class-A, western standard, ‘city in the sky‘ coming their way. True, a few weren’t that delighted it was a Russian firm behind things, but were generally assuaged by Russian company expertise in the sphere.
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Mirax Group, the company giving the plaza their name, were described as one of the leading construction companies in Russia, claiming to have put up over 2 million square metres (Mirax alone was to be 300,000 plus square metres) of business and premium class property, and at that moment working on Moscow’s Federation Tower, billed as the tallest building in Europe, with a planned height of 354 metres.

This was the company’s first project in Ukraine, and as the country’s economy crested in 2004-5, planning permission was rushed through and an enthusiastic statement was released on the company’s website –

The building is commissioned by the Mirax group, one of the most important real estate investors in Russia. Mirax is acting worldwide and is also responsible for the highest building in Europe, the Federation Tower in Moscow, which is currently under construction. The investor had been specifically looking for a Western (German) architect, to take full advantage of the reputation of German engineering in all of the CIS, but also to establish a different design language.

The original building was to be 44 floors, 170 metres, and some did think the budget of $267,000,000 was a little ambitious for that. But this was a Ukraine where everything was possible, everything was turning to gold. The economy had grown over 12% in 2004, and though it dipped in 2005, the Orange Revolution had landed and many thought 12% was just the tip of the bonanza to come. Another tower was duly added to the plan, also to be 170 metres, with a 5-storey shopping mall linking the two. Given the tallest building in Kiev at that time was the 106-metre then Transport and Communications Ministry building, they would comfortably be number 1 and 2.

Architects were world-renowned German firm Eller and Eller. So keen, seemingly, were Mirax to get the project started, that with a hugely optimistic timeframe of 2007-2009 (a more realistic target given was 2010), construction actually started on December 22, 2006. All in 2007 appeared to be going well, as construction got underway on the three-hectare plot. With the particular geology of the area, foundation preparation did seem to be taking some time, with little concrete to show even by the middle of the year. But, just as a few whispers started, the company announced quite staggering plans to add two floors to the original tower, taking it to 46 floors and 192 metres, with a redesign and stunning arcing roof leading to a shard pointing to the heavens.

Whether this was entirely a bold bluff to buy time is unknown, but the public at large seemed to buy it, even if construction rather crawled. The word on the inside was the project was stalling, as Mirax struggled for funds. Talk had at one time been of 1000 construction workers on site, yet it never reached more than a couple of hundred as the 2007 credit crisis started to hit in mid-2007.

Mirax Plaza3

This combined with growing uncertainty about Ukraine’s prospects as Yushchenko and Tymoshenko‘s government had dissolved into internecine warfare and economic mismanagement seeing soaring inflation and a plunging currency. Economic growth in 2007 had held at near 8%, yet the forecast for the next year was bad. It was bad, scraping over 2%. Pictures of the foundation work at least done were released in March 2008 (right), but there was no talk by then of a 2009 or ’10 completion.

Work limped along in 2008, amid rumours that the company’s Ukrainian subsidiary, Mirax-Invest, which had been founded only in 2005, was running on empty. 11 floors had gone up by late autumn, but as the credit crisis seized Ukraine and hit Russia, word from there was not good. In November 2008, parent company Mirax ceased construction on the Federation Tower. Back in Kiev, just as glass cladding had begun on the lower floors, work, which had been labouring, stopped entirely. An announcement was made that Mirax-Plaza would be postponed for a year due to the credit crisis, as the workers downed tools, the cranes fell idle. Rents in Kiev had fallen by up to 50% since the start of construction, while demand for what Mirax Plaza was to offer had collapsed.

Mirax PlazaIn May 2009, Mirax Group announced they had sold the project to Russia’s AEON Corporation, with plans declared that construction would commence once more in mid-2010. But the sale fell through, as 2010 saw Mirax having seemingly found investors but locked in conflict with them over the future of the site. Then, Mirax Group folded in 2011, owing an estimated $500 million. Around $150 million had been invested in Mirax-Plaza.

The former Mirax Group has now reformed as Potok, but a statement on its wikipedia page presumably from someone connected, makes it clear Mirax-Plaza is not in its plans –
It is worth noting that the foreign projects in the UK, Switzerland, the US, Montenegro, Cambodia, Ukraine were not launched by the Potok group of companies and are personal projects of shareholders.

Mirax PlazaSome blame the Russians for this, of course. Their position has been that the mismanaged economy in Ukraine gave them no choice. 2014 is a different Ukraine. More mature, a little more level-headed in these matters. Big projects, such as the recent Ocean Plaza in Kiev, get finished. Ukraine is an adult now. But if all the other unfinished constructions of the time are acne scars, Mirax Plaza is the huge, botched tattoo Ukraine got as a teenager, which needs to be removed before the country can be taken seriously as an adult.

It’s not clear who owns the land. There was talk in late 2010 of the Kiev administration mounting a repossession, the lease on the land having expired, and demolition, if nothing were to be done. But, Euro 2012 came and went, now Euromaidan, you can be sure that the doomed Mirax is very low down the list.
This is the building these days, and for anyone with any interest in, or feeling for Ukraine, it’s around 25-metres of heartbreak.
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#FreeLifeNews

 

1life2I call on European leaders to demand the immediate release of Life News journalists, Elizaveta Khramtsova and photographer Natalia Kalysheva, detained illegally in Kiev by ‘Ukrainian security service’ SBU for over 15 hours now.

– Elizaveta and Natalia have not committed any crime

– No proper reason given for their entirely illegal detention

– They have been denied contact with anyone in time of their detention – also illegal

– Completely false charges, relating to a ridiculous, supposed ‘terrorist bomb threat’ have been leaked, defaming their character

– Their illegal incarceration is an attack on individual rights

– Their illegal incarceration is an attack on freedom of speech, and the press

– Ukraine is, in the words of president Poroshenko ‘on the road to European integration’, the unlawful captivity of Liza and Natalia is a direct violation of European values, standards, laws.

– These are young ladies, judging from previous detentions of journalists in Ukraine they will be being kept in unpleasant conditions, deprived of basic human rights.

– The condition of Elizaveta and Natalia is unknown by anyone, including their extremely worried families.

– Their reported ‘expulsion and deportation for 5 years’ again totally illegal, again a direct attack on freedom of the press, speech, rights of the individual.

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