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New Europe

Day Eighty-one: Kiev

Street politics in Kiev 
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By the Parliament building the red and blue flags of the old communists and the conservative Party of the Regions, bitterly opposed to Tymoshenko.
Michael Palin - New EuropeOne reason why the political argument being played out on the streets of Kiev has been relatively free of violence, is that it has been allowed to take place in an almost party-like atmosphere. Celebration has become more important than confrontation. In the new vocabulary of Ukrainian politics, separate camps means whether you prefer your tent to be of polyester or ex-army canvas and a political party means dancing to a group on an outdoor stage.

This new face of politics, so completely different from the old days of grey men on balconies, is characterised not just by Julia Tymoshenko herself but also by her activist daughter Eugenia and her remarkable husband, a strikingly tall man with a powerful physique and eyes that slant distinctively upwards at the sides. The couple are an image consultant's dream. If Eugenia represents the national stereotype of fresh-faced beauty, he looks the very personification of the Ukrainian folk hero, the warrior Cossack. In fact, his name is Sean Carr and he's a biker from Leeds.

Their story is full of wonderful twists and turns. Eugenia was sent by her parents to be educated at Rugby, the English public school on which Tom Brown's Schooldays was based. She and Sean first set eyes on each other at a hotel in Egypt, attracted by a mutual interest in biking and the music of Sean's group, The Death Valley Screamers.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Day Eighty-one: Kiev
  • Country/sea: Ukraine
  • Place: Kiev
  • Book page no: 193

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