Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ikea plans to open its first store in Ukraine next year

September 13, 2018 ( Swedish furniture giant Ikea said it was finally bringing its Scandinavian home design to Ukraine after years of delays. The announcement came during a meeting between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the company's CEO in south-east Europe in the capital Kiev. "It's the right moment for Ikea to be here, when we look at the business climate and the opportunities," Stefan Vanoverbeke told the Ukrainian leader. Poroshenko called the agreement "a good signal for global brands" which he said meant that his country had made progress in the fight against corruption. The opening of an Ikea store in Kiev, said Poroshenko, was the culmination of 13 years of negotiations. "Unfortunately, it could have happened at least ten years ago," he said. "But the investment climate did not allow Ikea to make the right decision at the time."

In 2009, the world's biggest furniture retailer said it would open an outlet in Ukraine and went on to buy a plot of land near the south-west port city of Odessa, but it abandoned those plans a year later, saying the market was not strong enough. Ukrainian and Swedish media reports suggested the real reason it pulled out was that Ukrainian officials demanded kickbacks. The company itself hinted at the problem, with a senior executive saying in 2010 that "Ikea does not have money" to pay bribes.
Ukraine, a country of more than 40 million people, is battling a Russian-backed separatist insurgency in the east. The conflict – which broke out after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 – has claimed more than 10,000 lives. In 2015, Aivaras Abromavicius, Ukraine's economy minister at the time, visited Stockholm and pleaded with Ikea to set up shop in his country. He argued that "it would be an important symbol" of Kiev's anti-corruption fight. Ukraine ranked 130 out of 180 countries assessed by Transparency International's corruption perception index in 2017. Ikea has stores in more than 50 countries, including post-Soviet Latvia, Lithuania and Russia. In August this year, Swedish fashion retail group H&M opened its first store in Ukraine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Memorials to Honor Victims of 9/11 Across America

September 11, 2018 (Voic of America) Americans are marking the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that claimed almost 3,000 lives. President Donald Trump attended a ceremony at the 9/11 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, near where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after passengers retook control from the al-Qaida affiliated terrorists who had hijacked the plane.

Attendees wait to leave roses during a commemoration ceremony of the 25th anniversary of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing at the north reflecting pool of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site
In a statement Saturday, the White House declared September 7 to 9 as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance for the victim of the attacks. “The faith of our Nation may have been tested in the avenues of New York City, on the shores of the Potomac, and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, but our strength never faltered and our resilience never wavered,” the statement said.
The full article is available at

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Fortress of Poltava. The Return from Nonexistence

In accordance with the diary written by the Swedish fenrik Rober Petre, the fortress of Poltava for the first time has been seen by the King Charles XII in the late April, 1709. He decided to lay this fortress in siege to force Tsar Peter I to dare to the final battle of the Great Northern war. You know what happened next to the Swedish army that found itself in the depth of Ukraine near some small town of Poltava…

Viktor Babenko and his vision of the fortress of Poltava in the time of the Great Northern war
Many centuries had passed since 1607 when this fortress was built by the will of then ruler of this part of Ukraine – Polish Hetman (a political title from Central and Eastern Europe, historically assigned to military commanders) Stanislav Zholkievsky. In 1658 the fortress was enlarged and reinforced.
What our local historians are missing most of all, are old engravings, drawings, and paintings showing how the fortress of Poltava looked many years ago. That is why Ukrainian painter Viktor Babenko who lives in Poltava decided to reconstruct an appearance of the fortress using all available documents including the diary written by Robert Petre.
                                                     Viktor Babenko, painter

I was happy to give my translation of the diary to his disposal. On the picture you can see the painter and his vision of the fortress. May be in the future this painting will move to the Poltava Battle Museum.
The fortress of Poltava by Viktor Babenko
Historical painting is only one side of such a many-sided personality of the painter. Besides, he has created many paintings using Slavonic mythology.  His paintings are available at
Hope you will find them interesting.

Friday, September 7, 2018

A new Swedish financial program has been launched in Ukraine to support the development of long-term sustainable district heating systems

September 7, 2018 (UKRINFORM) The program was presented at the Nordic Green to Scale seminar in Kyiv, an Ukrinform correspondent reports. “I am very glad to announce the continuation of Swedish support to district heating in Ukraine. This is an area where we have a lot to share, having gone through decades of modernization of our district heating systems. I have also visited several of the ongoing projects, and I am very impressed with the results that NEFCO and our Ukrainian partners have achieved, so far”, said Martin Hagström, Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine. The focus of the new funding programme is on the creation of district heating systems large enough to enable effective use of renewable and waste heat sources with low environmental and climate impact, as well as improved district heating services enabling the customers to control their heat consumption based on their needs. This, in turn, will also result in improved indoor climate and hot water supply, NEFCO reports.

The Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) is the international financial institution founded by the Scandinavian countries in 1990. NEFCO finances and implements projects related to anticipating the climate change and increasing green investment around the world. Sweden is a long-time partner of Ukraine. During the period from 2014 to 2020, Sweden will allocate EUR 175 million to support reforms in Ukraine. This makes Sweden the seventh largest donor of the country.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Ukrainians pay tribute to victims of Red Terror

September 5, 2018 ( On Wednesday noon, the Ukrainian Parliament and some common citizens paid tribute to the victims of the Red Terror of 1917-1922. The moment of silence was held for those repressed and murdered by the Bolshevik secret police; the Communists came to power after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, which eventually led to the creation of the Soviet Union, which included Ukraine. As the Soviets were seizing more and more power, thousands of people, including workers and peasants were labeled either 'enemies of the people' or 'counter-revolutionary activists'. A lot of them were either imprisoned, deprived of their private property or killed. Historians state that the overall number of victims of the Red Terror varies from at least 10,000 to 50,000 people; some claim even higher figures.

 Demonstration in support of the "Red Terror", Petrograd 1918. The banner says: “Death to bourgeoisie and its henchmen! Long live the Red Terror!