Ukrainian Life and Society
Last update: May 21, 2010 (info updated)
Ukraine often seems to be changing at breakneck speed. In politics, we see drastic changes of economic and political courses in the space of just a couple years. In the economy, we see rapid technological changes that many Ukrainians can scarcely keep up with. On Ukraine's real estate market, property prices quadrupled in six years, then fell in half as a result of the 2008-2010 financial crisis. In this time, Kiev has transformed from a large, but quiet town with a spiritual side into a traffic-bound materialistic megapolis.
After the Orange Revolution — the first event in years that presented Ukraine in a positive light internationally — Ukraine was no longer the backwater of Europe. Since then, despite near universal dismay at the Ukrainian government's post-revolution failures, Ukraine has remained in the public eye. What will happen to the country? Will it be engulfed by expanding Russian influence? Will it try again to break away from its Soviet past and embrace European values and social institutions? Will it be torn apart by the cultural, linguistic, and political rift between the western and eastern halves of the country?
Throughout the thousands of sleepy villages of Ukraine, one would hardly guess that anything is happening in the nation at all. Ukraine remains a distinctly agrarian country, where politicians come from villages and small towns and babushki sell home-grown produce to city dwellers on the sidewalks of Kiev and other big cities. And doing business still often involves drinking and comradery unseen in the West. Ukraine holds on to its traditional culture despite economic change and political inconstancy.