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Athens and Rome are not just older than Kyiv; they live their history; their glory is in it. . Agora in Athens today, as has become a tradition since the time of Solon, still serves as a meeting place and trade. The Roman Forum (Forum Romanum) you can scoop water in a small pond in the House of the Vestal Virgins, which more than two thousand years old. Next to it is the Curia – Caesar was assassinated on its steps and Mamertine Prison, where the Apostles Peter and Paul, real people, were imprisoned. A 16th century building is commonplace in Rome. Old neighborhoods of London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin and Vienna remember the victories and grandeur of kings and emperors that decided the fate of Europe and the world. Kyiv was also a powerful capital, but a long time ago – and then a very long time was not a capital.
Actually, this is what makes Kyiv different from other ancient European capitals. Great past does not prevail over Kyiv, does not outweigh its present and future. This city feels itself a great capital of a large country, which Europe has lost a long time ago, and which now, having recovered after centuries of nothingness, is reuniting with Europe, thus restoring its civilization integrity. If Athens – is the alpha, where Europe was formed, then Kyiv could become the omega, where it will find the ultimate unity.
A skeptic will say that it sounds too ambitiously and that Kyiv’s contribution into the general European culture will unlikely to be noticed or appreciated in other European capitals. However, as the famous French philosopher BernardHenri Levy said “The heart of Europe is beating in Kyiv.” “You embody the European project. You restore to it its content and program. You give to the word and to the idea of Europe a meaning,” he said on Kyiv’s Euromaidan. The Ukrainian capital already delivered a big surprise and Kyivans have good chances of making it a tradition.
PHENOMENON OF KYIVANS
Over the past 12 years (from 2002 till 2013) the migration increase of Kyiv’s population exceeded 254,000 (more than 21,000 per year on average). It is as if the capital miraculously added another district to the ten existing ones. How it always happens with migration, however, the official figures represent only the tip of the iceberg. Kyiv’s attractiveness is not surprising as it is enough just to take a quick look at the share of the capital in the national indicators. According to the State Statistics Service, Kyiv account for:
6.18% of Ukraine’s population as of January 1, 2013 and 6.25% – as of 1 January, 2014. Annual growth rate is 0.07% (in terms of percentage points). Kyiv population has been growing at such a pace for one and a half decades. As of January 1, 1999 it was 5.18%. Resident population of the capital over the past 15 years has increased from 2.57 mn to 2.83 mn, and of Ukraine – decreased from 49.54 mn to 45.25 mn;
6.51% of Ukraine’s population aged 1767 and 6.99% – aged 1838 as of last January. These figures show the inflow to the capital of the working population and especially young people from other regions.
13% of all fulltime employees in Ukraine in companies with 10 or more workers this May. I.e. there are twice as many jobs in the capital than the average for Ukraine. At that, residents of suburbs and labor migrants, are not taken into account in the official population of the city.
18,9% of Ukraine GDP in 2012 (there is no data for the past year). By the way, this is more than the share to Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, who together accounted for 15.7%.
20% of the salary received by staff employees in Ukraine in May 2014. In other words, every fifth hryvnia in Ukraine is earned in Kyiv (if we talk specifically about the wages), although the city accounts for only one sixteenth of the country’s population. The average salary in Ukraine was UAH 3,430 in May 2014, and in Kyiv – UAH 5,272. Naturally, a lot of people receive the unofficial part of the salary and the share of Kyiv in it may be even higher than 20% of the total for Ukraine.
38.3% of all staff employees in Ukraine, who in May 2014 worked in the three major and highest paid nonindustrial (postindustrial) spheres and over half – 56.5% – of the salary received in these spheres. The SSS says that “financial and insurance activity” is one such sphere: Kyiv accounts for 39.6% (99,400 of 251,000) of all Ukrainian employees in this sphere and 57.3% of their salaries (the average salary in Kyiv is UAH 10,445, which is 2.04 times more than in other regions – UAH 5,108). The second sphere is ‘information and telecommunications’: Kyiv accounts for 36.4% (60,000 of 164,600) of all employees in this sphere and 59.5% of their salaries (the average salary in Kyiv is UAH 8,028, which is 2.57 times more than in other regions – UAH 3,127). The third sphere is ‘professional, scientific and technical activity with Kyiv’s share in it 38.2% (108,600 of 284,700 employees) and 54% of the salaries in this sphere (the average salary in Kyiv is UAH 6,984, which is 1.9 times more than in other regions – UAH 3,674).
LEVEL OF FREEDOM
Kyivans have shown an example of selforganization with the help of a network of informal communities that unite the citizens based on their interests (fighting against illegal construction, creating condition for bicycle riders, helping orphanages, etc.), occupation (programmers, journalists, lawyers, doctors, other professionals), place of residence (districts, blocks or a big residential building). Euromaidan became a visible proof of this network. However, more importantly is that Kyivans feel no piety towards the current central and city authorities, while all its decisions are subjected to critical discussion, which at any moment could result into trolling. It would be an exaggeration to say that they hold President Poroshenko and Mayor Klitschko on a short leash, but one can still speak about a certain unwritten public agreement: for the decisions that cause discontent and perplexity the government must “pay a compensation” in the form of decisions that meet the moods and expectations of Kyivans.
There are centurieslong traditions of political life in the western European countries. After the split of the Socialist camp, Warsaw, Prague, Budapest and Bucharest returned to their own traditions. Kyiv, however, had no traditions to go back to. Meanwhile, the newly created parties and formal public organizations failed to gain trust and practically discredited themselves over the years of independence.
Selforganization through the network of informal communities has essentially become a replacement for the party structures. Facebook and Twitter are now certainly more popular sources of information than the party’s mass media. This is also a new Kyiv tradition.
If you try and look into how Kyiv will look like in five or ten years, it is not so important how its look will change and where the new buildings will be built. Most important thing is that Kyivans have a real chance to make the city develop the way they want it and the way they feel comfortable about. Of course, the possibility to earn more is also quite important.
This is undoubtedly a difficult task and it is possible that the conflicts will appear in the “governmentbusinesscity communities” triangle. But if we learn to solve this task and settle accompanying conflicts, a new tradition of the Ukrainian capital will certainly appear.Printable version