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Correspondent 33

Charity in Kyiv, the Lion’s Club way!

by Paul Miazga

Kyiv residents driving to work or walking around might have seen street-side billboards featuring the faces of missing children and runaways. The campaign to find these children is just one of many charity campaigns sponsored by the Kyiv Lion’s Club, which raises money year-round for worthy city and national charities. This Saturday, June 30, the Kyiv Lion’s Club will host their annual Kozak (Cossack) Night charity event at Mamayeva Sloboda (a park in Kyiv’s Borshchahivka district). This year Kozak Night, one of several major annual charity functions organized by the Lion’s Club, will feature dinner, music, singing, traditional Ukrainian dance, horse riding tricks by a true Cossack riding troupe, many events for kids, a mini fair, silent auction, raffle prizes and more! Only 600 tickets will be sold for this event, which is fast becoming very popular among the ex-pat and local crowds given the atmosphere of fun and community building it creates. Tickets are $125 with all money going to support local charities. The goal is to raise $100,000 and, with your help, it’ll happen! For tickets, call Svitlana at (8044) 463 7429 or email sivanchenko@ventureukraine.com.

Getting out of the city? Forget about it!

Recent attempts by friends to exercise travel options ahead of the impending four-day long weekend didn’t just prove futile: early last week one local travel agent a good friend of mine that all charter flights out of the city were booked solid. Flights to other European destinations were equally out of range either in terms of price ($550 for a two-hour flight to Vienna?!) or were similarly booked solid. And trains? Forget about it! This whole affair makes me think of how former Austrian race car driver Niki Lauda made a ton of cash after his racing career ended by leveraging his race and sponsorship winnings to found Lauda Air. Lauda’s charter airline service quickly became very successful by ferrying sun-seeking travelers to their destination of choice. Obviously, Kyiv, is very much in need of such added charter airline services. With Ukraine close to finally signing an open-skies agreement with the European Union, Ukraine will soon be deluged with low-cost air carriers like Ryan Air, easyjet and Air Berlin. With few doubts, the low-cost air carriers will be here long before Euro 2012, and given the recent introduction of a simplified visa process agreed between the EU and Ukraine, more and more Ukrainians should be able to take off to destinations other than Turkey, Egypt and Dubai in a short period of time. For the time being, though, we suffer.

Citizen’s rights put on hold

It’s sad that just as I start to trumpet good news for Ukrainians in one part of this column, in the next I have to underscore how far this country still has to go. Travel and other sectors of the economy, such as real estate, are booming, and therein lies the dilemma. I recently read a letter from a local citizen’s action group that has tried to bring to light the perils facing many downtown neighborhoods. Over-eager developers and malicious city politicians are working to crowd out many residents in central Kyiv. What’s at stake are multi-million (-billion?) dollar deals to build hotels and high-rise apartment complexes if only the thorny issue of individual and collective citizens’ rights can be eliminated. Trust me when I say it’s already happening – and fast. One of the city’s oldest and best kindergartens, located near Eric’s Bierstube, will fall to the wrecking this August despite the pleas of local citizens who were never consulted about the project even though it stands to ruin their property values and quality of life. The most disgusting thing about this case is that city politicians and court judges have pushed to find a developer for the site even more unscrupulous than them. A prominent Austrian company has already backed away from the deal after learning what was going on, but local politicians have persisted to the point of foaming at the mouth. While the irony runs thick in this case, it runs thickest in that the final order to demolish the kindergarten was signed by Mayor Leonid Chernovetskiy, who has pledged to protect the city’s schools from encroaching and rampant development.

The Kyiv Lion’s Club will host their 3rd-annual Kozak Night event for charity on Saturday, June 30. Get your tickets now! (Image courtesy of Kyiv Lion’s Club)


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