EU supports winemaking in Zakarpattia

Climate of the Transcarpathian region is extremely favorable for winegrowing and winemaking. The Carpathian Mountains protect the region against cold Arctic air coming from north, and that’s why grapes have long been cultivated in the Transcarpathian region. Local families have been doing that for years: one can find as many as 40 wine cellars in one street. Despite the prohibition of private entrepreneurship by Soviet authorities and dry law, the locals were able to preserve their traditions, which are now being gradually restored. This story tells about Nota Bene, Chizay, Ursta and Paraska family wineries. Read more

EU helps to demine Ukraine’s east

The beginning of spring is not only about flowering trees and the start of fieldwork in gardens across the country. Spring also heralds the start of demining work in the Donbas. Ukrinform asked Danish Demining Group (DDG), a nongovernmental organization and one of the key participants in demining effort, about technical aspects of this process and whether Ukrainian legislation governing this area is sophisticated enough. Read more

What educational opportunities EU offers to Ukrainians

Quality education is the cornerstone of the country’s development in all areas. The European Union offers numerous mobility opportunities for everyone interested in professional growth, for those who want to gain new knowledge and skills, and most importantly, international experience. This article tells about programs available for academic community, students and specialists, and why you should apply for them. Read more

EU funds modern opera about women sentenced to life imprisonment

Life imprisonment is the harshest punishment in Ukraine. Capital punishment was abolished in 1999. Human rights activists advocate the changes which could approximate our penitentiary system to international standards. This topic is addressed by Important for Life project and its part, Penita. Opera composed by Zoltán Almási, 45 to the libretto by Tetiana Kytsenko, 42. 

Contemporary Ukrainian opera is rapidly transforming itself from an elite underground art into something of a mainstream. The tone was set by Vlad Troitsky’s Nova Opera together with the composer tandem of Roman Hryhoriv and Illia Razumeiko. Eight operas were staged under this brand since 2015, and one of them, IYOV, won the Shevchenko Prize this year.

”Иди сюда, сука”, – кричить Тетяна Лавська (посередині) в опері ”Пеніта”, грає засуджену за вбивство. Прототипом героїв постановки стали довічно ув’язнені жінки Качанівської колонії на Харківщині. У спектаклі також задіяні акторки Лі Берлінська (праворуч) та Вікторія Ромашко
“Come over here, you bitch,” Tetiana Lavska (in the middle) yells in Penita. Opera, playing a convict sentenced for murder. Women serving a life term in Kachanivska penal colony in Kharkiv became the prototype of the opera’s characters. Other cast includes actresses Li Berlinska (on the right) and Viktoria Romashko.

Premieres of several operas by Ukrainian composers also took place this season: Oleksandr Shchetynsky’s Natalka Poltavka in Kharkiv, Ivan Nebesny’s Mykyta the Fox in Lviv, Andrii Merchel’s Entropy based on Olha Tokarchuk’s prose in Poznan, Poland. The premiere in Kharkiv of Alla Zahaikevych’s opera Vyshyvanyi. The King of Ukraine to the libretto by Serhii Zhadan was announced for this May.

Amid these mostly literary plots, Penita. Opera is distinguishable for its documentary background. It is based on the stories of four women doing time in Kachanivska penal colony No 54 in Kharkiv.

Last year, the opera was staged in Kyiv, Odesa, Dnipro and Kharkiv. They also wanted to perform the opera in the prison itself, but the administration denied permission, fearing the reaction of the convicts.

According to statistics, almost four percent of people serving a life sentence in the world were wrongly convicted. Unlike in European countries, we do not have the practice of conditionally paroling those serving life in prison or a mechanism of correcting judicial mistakes.

Important for Life project includes an exhibition of works by documentary photographer Rusia Aseyeva. The photos were taken in Kachanivska penal colony. We can see a convict’s lunch, laundered bed linens drying on the rope, a picture of convict’s family on the cell’s wall.

The project’s curator, playwright Tetiana Kytsenko, wrote libretto for this opera. A while ago, she became a revelation at the Week of Ukrainian Contemporary Play. She began engaging in dramaturgy while already having journalistic experience. Perhaps that’s where her interest in social topics comes from. She wrote plays about the problems of Ukrainian healthcare system (The Bilokhalatnist), about the situation in the police force (My Militsiya Me), about the phenomenon of the Euromaidan and the role of women in war (Women and the Sniper). Her plays are based on interviews with people. Her style features a combination of documentary art with absurd and grotesque.

Penita was Tetiana’s first opera libretto. In Kachanivska penal colony, she spoke to women serving a life term, recording their stories on tape. Her interlocutors were 37-year-old Kateryna Shchuka, 39-year-old Maryna Hovor, 40-year-old Lilia Chyzhyk, and 62-year-old Iryna Radosiuk. One of them is doing time for murder, another for double murder, and the other two claim that they didn’t kill anybody but were framed.

The characters tell their story in turns, interrupting to let the next character speak. They do not hear each other. Each of them lives in her own world, by her own memories. They speak in different languages. The “spirited Assyrian” played by Li Berlinska and the “most timid among the convicts” portrayed by Viktoria Romashko speak Ukrainian. The “Thunder Baba” who spent 38 years behind bars, impersonated by Tetiana Lavska, speaks Russian. The fourth one, “smart as a steel trap”, the heroine of Asya Sereda, speaks a macaronic language. The four monologues intertwine into a macro-metaphor of huge human woe, pain and suffering. The text of libretto is a synthesis of facts from life of people and overused clichés like “I believed that I will meet a beautiful prince”, “it was love”, “Vadim wasn’t like everybody else”. And all that is mixed with references to Dante’s Divine Comedy and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

Music plaits into action and becomes a part of symbolic code. The names of the main characters are divided by the parts of a string quartet: “Good Violin”, “Bad Violin”, “Viola” and “Cello”. To be sure, a string quartet (which in the opera staged in Kyiv is Levko Revutsky Quartet) accompanies the action from the beginning till the end. They sit on a portal in the upper left wing of the stage. The musicians also play the role of crowd, the “public court”, shouting moralizing phrases like “What a shame!”, “Don’t you remember that you’re a woman?”, “You should’ve used your brain!”, “People like you must be shot on sight!”

Тетяна Лавська в опері ”Пеніта” грає засуджену до довічного ув’язнення. Її героїня розповідає, що  сподівається зустріти свого принца. Його втілив Максим Булгаков
In Penita, Tetiana Lavska plays a woman sentenced to life in prison. Her heroine says that she hopes to meet her prince. He was played by Maksym Bulgakov.

The cello part in the quartet is played by the composer, Zoltán Almási. He reads the article of the Criminal Code of Ukraine about “deliberate murder”.

For Zoltán and Tetiana, this is the first experience in creating an opera. The composer draws on the tradition of comic opera. Almási is a master of stylization, and Penita became a sort of a cocktail of everything, from religious canticles to criminal songs.

“Remotely, this is, of course, the tradition of opera buffa, Singspiel, then the operetta and musical. In other words, this is a variety of the opera genre containing many dialogues and spoken text,” Zoltán Almási says. “However, it has all features of a classical opera: leitmotifs, leittimbres, modified recitatives. Overall, I composed it based on the task we had: a documentary, social opera. In addition to rap, it has recitatives of kolomoyka style, stylizations a la pop music, prison chanson, romance, religious songs styled as the latest protestant Christian movements.”

According to the plot, all heroines are victims of males. And the story of rape, where the woman who fell victim to male violence kills her rapists, and other stories tell about the woman’s self-sacrifice for the sake of love. A man who committed murder forces his wife to share responsibility: “You and I are both in the same boat”. In the world where men reign and women sacrifice themselves and then serve a life term, the Song About a Teethed Vagina sounds like a mockery: “Teethed vagina / You are the evil spirit! / Teethed vagina / Bit off the dick”. And the idea of repentance by women sentenced to life in prison seems absurd. After all, they don’t know what to repent:

“Cello: And what if we do repent, really?

Good Violin: Repent what?

Cello: No need to clarify that”.

It seems that the justice system should not divide people on the basis of gender – all people should be equal before law, and a person must answer for their acts. However, this “right symmetry” is debunked by one of the most dramatic episodes in the play: a tale about pregnancy of one of the life-term convicts. Once every two months, convicts are allowed to see their close ones in a separate room. It ends with abortion, because “doing time with children is prohibited!”

Stage acts are played inside a white circle, evoking associations with the circles of Dante’s Inferno, a vicious circle, despair. Red confetti is strewn inside the circle. These two colors, red and white, dominate in the play’s symbolism: blood and innocence. In the final act, all four heroines take off their white dresses and remain in the underwear, exposing their vulnerability.

“Life imprisonment is not just about those who will spend the rest of their life behind bars; it is also about all of us. Many people on the outside have only illusory freedom, chained in the prison of their own stereotypes and groundhog days. But metaphors aside, people serving life in prison surely have to answer for what they committed. But on the other hand, we, the society, also have to realize what we do with these people. Life imprisonment without the possibility of conditional parole contradicts the meaning of penitentiary system: the person has neither motivation nor possibility to change their behavior,” Tetiana Kytsenko, playwright, curator of Important for Life project, says. This project was implemented with financial support from the European Union under Culture Bridges program.

By Olesia Naidiuk

Source: Gazeta.ua

Launch of public services portal Diia designed using EGOV4Ukraine funds

27 public online services are already available on the government portal Diia, in particular, registering a sole proprietorship, filing changes in constitutional documents, changing the area of activity and closing a sole proprietorship, procuring a statement of the absence of criminal record, applying for a childbirth benefit or monthly reimbursement of childcare services for children under three years of age. You can file a lawsuit, register a motor vehicle or receive driver’s license-related services, apply for a number of licenses and permits, and receive abstracts from public registers. Read more

EU4Youth grant helps entrepreneur from frontline Mariinka expand quail farm

Before the outbreak of the armed conflict, Yuri lived in Mariinka and worked in Donetsk, but after the fighting started, he had to quit the job and leave for a while. Yuri did not want to leave his native city for good, though, but finding a job was all but impossible, so the young man began to think about how to set up a business that could put food on the table for his family. Read more

EU Advisory Mission to Ukraine opens first educational centre for law enforcers in Odesa

The Knowledge Hub, a training center operated by the European Union Advisory Mission Ukraine and the first of its kind in the country, has opened in Odesa. The center will host joint events for EUAM’s partners in the public security sector, including the National Police, prosecution and judicial authorities, Security Service and Interior Ministry, a Radio Liberty correspondent reports. Read more

How EU supports women in business: overview of opportunities

Starting a new business is always not easy, especially if you have to take care of your home, of your children and parents, if you get support from no-one and you often have no idea where to start. There are many international programs helping women launch a business, receive education or protect their economic rights. But it often becomes difficult to find the right information. That’s why analysts from EU Neighbors East gathered all EU projects in Ukraine which can help women succeed in their own business endeavor. Read more

EGOV4Ukraine team leader on importance of e-governance in Ukraine amidst pandemic

“The nation in a smartphone” has already become a reality, people in Ukraine are now joking sometimes. The involuntary self-isolation of millions of people has drastically increased the significance of the Internet and everything that can be done online, from information search and shopping to the handling of business matters or things involving interaction with public authorities. Read more

EU funds modernization of Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant training centre

The assertion that human factor in nuclear power plays the decisive role does not require proof. After all, safe operation of nuclear power plants depends, first of all, on competent actions of their personnel. They at Zaporizhia NPP know that very well, and therefore, they do everything possible to improve professional skills of nuclear power specialists. Read more

EU allocates EUR 9.5 mln for small and medium-sized businesses in Ukraine’s east

The majority of small and medium-sized enterprises want to receive money to buy agricultural machinery. FinancEast, a program for which the European Union allocated 9.5 million euros to provide support to small and medium-sized enterprises in the Ukrainian government-controlled territory of the Donbas, was launched on 19 December 2019. Even back then, some players were saying that the available funds will last for only a few months. Read more

EU Anti-Corruption Initiative helps Ukrainian cities to gain integrity

Five Ukrainian cities – Zhytomyr, Mariupol, Nikopol, Chervonohrad and Chernivtsi – are participating in the Integrity Cities project to tackle corruption in city councils, to provide transparent and better quality public services. Based on their experience, the project experts highlighted five effective anti-corruption tools that will be useful for other local authorities. Read more

Chernivtsi student learns to counter populism in Georgia under Erasmus+ programme

In December 2019, Anastasia Gudilianova, a fourth-year student of Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University, took part in an international project to confront populism in Georgia under the EU Erasmus+ programme. Together with other students from Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Poland, Spain and Germany, she learned to recognize populism and conduct peacebuilding trainings to prevent conflicts in society. Read more

EU and EBRD launch Merezha business platform for search of experts

A new social media was presented in Kyiv: Merezha, an online platform launched with the support from the European Union and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as part of EU4Business initiative. Its main purpose is to bring together small and medium-sized businesses and professional consulters. Its developers expect that in the future, their platform will receive approximately 30 thousand visitors every month. Read more

EU awards grant for development of eco-friendly  production of bearings

The Ukrainian company named “Symbol” launched the manufacture of plain bearings from scrap ferrous metals, replacing traditional bronze. Today’s metallurgy uses mostly bronze bearings, and the production of this nonferrous metal leaves a substantial energy and carbon trace. The manufacture from scrap metals is more economically beneficial and less harmful for public health and the environment. Symbol became a winner of Climate Innovation Vouchers, a grant program from EBRD and the EU implemented in Ukraine by Greencubator. Read more

EU helping to attract tourists to Nove Misto community in Lviv region

There is a mini-bakery in the village of Deshychi of  Stary Sambir district. Almost every day, children from Lviv, Skhidnytsia, Truskavets and the surrounding villages come here for creative workshops on baking bread and pastry. Children knead dough themselves, decorate and bake bread, draw pictures using flour, and have fun with animators. The mini-bakery was opened as part of the “COWBoyky: Ukrainian Wild West” project, which promotes tourism in the Nove Misto amalgamated community. The project is funded by the EU as part of the Mayors for Economic Growth initiative. Read more

EU funds inclusive film festival in Kyiv

Inclusivity has ceased to be something faraway and incomprehensible for Ukraine. One step after another, little by little, we are bringing ourselves to the state of mind in which we no longer look away but act, help and win. Win, first of all, over firmly-entrenched prejudices which, worse than any spokes in our wheel, slow us down on the way toward not as much European as humane future. Talking about inclusivity is as necessary as believing in these words and understanding them: we are all equal, and we all welcome each other. To be sure, talking about certain things isn’t that easy sometimes, and that’s when art comes to rescue. Read on to find out about Eurofest: Cinema for Everyone, the first inclusive film festival, about the feature presentations and the perception of each other without labels and clichés. Read more

EU4Skills helping to improve quality and prestige of vocational education in Ukraine

EU4Skills program was launched in Ukraine. Thanks to this program, European partners, working jointly with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, will improve infrastructure, procure equipment and organize training for teachers at vocational schools. Read on to find out whom these changes will concern and what the students of vocational schools, colleges, specialized lyceums and centers should expect. Read more

EU Ambassador about successes and failures of Ukrainian reforms

How the European Union assesses the progress of judicial, anti-corruption, land and other reforms in Ukraine; whether the West is satisfied with President Zelensky’s approach to resolving the Donbas conflict; how long sanctions against Russia will last; and what are the prospects for Ukraine’s accession to the EU – read all this in the big interview of Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine Matti Maasikas. Read more