UKRAINIAN ENTRY SITUATION
Well, we tested the waters first hand and if you're an American citizen coming to Ukraine for no more than 90 days in a 6 month period you don't need an entry visa. My brother arrived here on Tuesday evening and there were (thankfully) no problems at all. I called the U.S. embassy up the day he arrived to see if there had been any further reports of Americans getting turned away. They clarified to me that the only problems that had been reported to them were of a U.S. journalist trying to get into the country to report about something getting turned away for not having a visa.
So to recap, if you're American and you want to come to Ukraine you apparently do not need a visa if you're coming here as a tourist or on business. If you're here for anything else, including doing any reporting, get the visa.
UKRAINIAN UTILITY SITUATION
My electricity (knock on wood) seems to have been working fine since the literal blow up. We've bitched to our landlord about the obvious fire hazard the rewiring work posesa and we've been told that someone will be out to replace the fuse. Sometime. We're still waiting. In the meantime we've managed to have a lot more utility fun coming in the form of plumbing issues. Shortly after we got our power back, one of our hot water pipes sprung a leak when the hot water was turned back on after sprin cleaning. This didn't bother us too much, but did cause the ceiling of our neighbor below us to start leaking. Sorry about that! We were able to get someone out suprisingly quickly to fix the situation...but that hasn't changed the fact that our water pressure is so freaking low that we haven't been able to use our showers for the past week. It's been bathing in the tubby pouring water over yourself. Perfectly fine in the summer...but I hope this doesn't become routine come October. The explanation from ZhEK is absolutely priceless too. Rather than trying to fix the freaking problem they've just said "Well, it's summer and more people are using more water. There's nothing we can do about it." Thanks guys.
UKRAINIAN TRAFFIC COPS
A few people have asked me about this article, which showed up on fark yesterday. Yes, it's true. Yushenko recently disbanded the Ukrainian traffic police. Pretty smart move actually. They were hideously corrupt and would pull people over just to collect bribes. I've been in plenty of taxis when it's happened. Nothing you could do about it. So in one fell swoop, you manage to look like you're doing something about corruption and the only people that are going to be unhappy about it are the people that won't be able to harass drivers anymore.
The only negative comment I have seen about this appeared in the last print issue of the Kiev Post, wherein a stereotypically disgruntled Taxi driver said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that nothing would be truly be accomplished until people started enforcing traffic laws against the government officials, oligarchs, and their families, who drive like maniacs. Which leads me to the following item
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S SON IS AN ASSHOLE
There's a brewing mini scandal over here regarding the lifestyle of Yushenko's son. A series of articles have appeared in a Ukrainian Newspaper (entitled "Son of God?") that reveal that Yushenko's 19 year old son drives an (unmarked) $120,000 BMW M6, carries a $43,000 Vertu cell phone, lives in a ridiculously expensive apartment, regularly goes clubbing and goes through $1000 bottles of Cristal, and has a retinue of bodyguards that regularly shoo away police that try to get him to move the above mentioned M6 when he parks it in the middle of the street. Additionally, resident's in his neighborhood report that "he speeds up to 62,14 mph, shifts to the wrong lane, blocks other vehicles."
And the best part is that this 19 year old kid is able to live that lifestyle on a salary ostensibly earned from a part-time consulting gig.
In a country where the offspring of the rich and powerful typically steal entire factories and TV Stations something like this would probably just blow over...were it not for Yushenko's outburst when questioned about his son's conduct and resources. He called the journalist who wrote the story a "hired killer that has never worked a minute towards defending the freedom of the press." Ummm...ok.
Anyway, this whole thing is kind of funny to follow and Neeka and Abdymok are all over it. Just go to either site and start scrolling.