Write your name in the history of Odessa: donating a frame to OFAM

Thanks to a small donation, you can have your name written on the walls of the Odessa Fine Arts Museum (OFAM), the main art gallery of the City. And the price of your fame is comparable to a dinner for two in a restaurant.

All visitors of the OFAM can read at the side of some paintings a label: “the frame and glass of this painting were donated by .. (First Name – Surname)“. This is an initiative by the OFAM to attract donations and bring back to the light important paintings, which needed their frames to be substituted.

OFAM website has created a special page in English for international donors, where anybody can select his favourite painting, with title and author, and send a payment through credit card (from 50 euro upwards).

OFAM website page: Give the painting a frame

Further to the payment, the Museum Fund Raising Manager Daria Dyakova sends the donor an email asking the “first name/surname” to be written in the label at tbe side of the painting. At the end of the process, an official certificate of donation by the OFAM with the image of the chosen painting is sent to the donor for his memory and possibly printed.

This original fund raising campaign is the last one of many activities carried out by the leadership of OFAM, its Director Aleksandr Roytburd and his Deputy Director Alexandra Kovalchuk, who transformed the relationship between the Museum and the City, bringing back the Gallery to the heart of Odessa.

Odessa junior hockey team won silver medals in Poland

Odessa “Sea Wolves”, the champions of Ukraine in hockey season 2019/2020 among athletes born in 2007, won silver medals at the Milan Cup 2020 international tournament, which took place in the Polish city of Sanok.

Oleg Mayuk’s young players confidently beat the “Bears” from Sanok, 9:0. The advantage of the “Sea Wolves” did not cause controversy either in a duel with peers from Lodz, 9:2. Teams from the cities of Nowy Targ and Tychy were beaten 2:0 and 7:1, respectively.

Sanok is a village of 38 thousand people, but it is able to host a tournament with the participation of four Polish and two Ukrainian ice hockey teams.

In the one million inhabitants Odessa, the Sports Palace unfortunately does not host any serious hockey competitions. There were rumours of half a year ago about the creation of an adult men’s team in Odessa, but, this club would probably play in Kherson or somewhere in Kremenchug.

Odessites would be the first, but the young hockey players lost to their compatriots from Kharkov SDYUSSHOR, 1:4. As a result, the prize for the first place went to Kharkov and “Sea Wolves” born in 2007, having shown effective and spectacular hockey, won silver medals.

Source and pictures: Dumskaya.net

Which sectors will benefit new UK-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement

Today, Ukraine is the UK’s 69th largest trading partner, accounting for 0.1% of total trade. Total trade in goods and services between the UK and Ukraine was £1.5 billion in 2019. An analysis of past figures may help to identify future trade trends and which sectors will benefit more.

Trade between the UK and Ukraine

In 2019, UK exports to Ukraine were £0.7 billion, making it the UK’s 71st largest export market (accounting for 0.1% of all UK exports). UK imports from Ukraine were £0.8 billion, making it the UK’s 66th largest import source (accounting for 0.1% of all UK imports).

Table 1: Trade between the UK and Ukraine, 2019 (£ billion)

Trade between countriesTrade in goodsTrade in servicesTotal trade
UK exports to Ukraine0.60.20.7
UK imports from Ukraine0.60.20.8
Total trade1.20.31.5

(Totals may not sum due to rounding)

Using data from UK Trade official website for trade in goods only, Table 2 shows that, in 2019, the top goods exported to Ukraine were vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock (£78 million) and aircraft, spacecraft and parts thereof (£77 million), together representing under a third of the total value of goods exported to Ukraine. The UK’s top goods imported from Ukraine were iron and steel (£177 million) and cereals (£173 million), together representing over half of goods imported from Ukraine.

Table 2: Top 5 UK goods exports to and imports from Ukraine 2019 (£ million)

Top 5 UK goods exports to UkraineValueTop 5 UK goods imports from UkraineValue
Vehicles other than railway or tramway stock77.9Iron and steel177.14
Aircraft, spacecraft, and parts thereof76.6Cereals172.6
Machinery and mechanical appliances67.0Animal or vegetable fats and oils70.6
Pharmaceutical products58.0Oil seeds and oleaginous fruits34.9
Other made up textile articles; sets37.3Residues and waste (food industries)17.4

Source: HMRC trade statistics by commodity code (as at 15 September 2020).

Table 3 shows that, in 2019, travel services and other business services were the largest UK service sectors exported to Ukraine (both £37 million). These two service sectors were also the largest import services from Ukraine, with other business services valued at £62 million and travel services valued at £54 million in 2019.

Table 3: Top 5 UK services exports to and imports from Ukraine, 2019 (£ million)

Top 5 UK service exports to partner, 2019ValueTop 5 UK service imports from partner, 2019Value
Travel37Other Business Services62
Other Business Services37Travel54
Personal, Cultural and Recreational10Telecommunications, computer and information services14

Office of National Statistics data is recorded on a ‘Balance of Payments’ or ‘change of ownership’ basis, where a good or service leaving (entering) the economic territory of a country is recorded as an export (import) only if it has changed ownership between the resident of the reporting country and non-residents. Goods exports (imports) are recorded by HMRC if a good physically leaves (enters) the economic territory of a country.

Economic impact of the existing EU Free Trade Area

The EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) is the main economic pillar of the EU-Ukraine Agreement. DCFTA entered into force in 2017, after being provisionally applied since 2016.

A 2018 European Commission report looking at implementation of EU free trade agreements included information on the EU-Ukraine DCFTA. It highlighted that total trade in goods between the EU and Ukraine increased by 24% between 2016 and 2017. Ukraine’s trade with the world increased sharply in 2016. However, Ukraine’s trade with the EU increased at a faster rate than its overall trade in 2016.

Experts estimated that an extended EU-Ukraine free trade agreement (“FTA”) would result in additional 5.3% in the long run. This was expected to reinforce existing trends in trade flows and lead to gains for the sectors with a comparative advantage in both economies. In Ukraine, this applies to processed foods, agriculture, and various other goods sectors. In the EU, the growth in income was expected to be spread over a wide range of sectors. While the relative estimated potential economic gains were expected to be higher in Ukraine, the EU’s gains were expected to be larger in absolute value, with overall gains in real income of around $8.5 billion.

Complete Policy Paper: Continuing the United Kingdom’s trade relationship with Ukraine

Secrets of the Black Sea: what is the fate of seahorse?

The long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus) inhabiting the Black Sea is an absolutely amazing creature. The body of this small fish is covered with horn-like plates and various outgrowths, which serve as natural camouflage and protect it from predators. The fish’s exoskeleton is quite sturdy, and does not lose its shape even if dried. Its unusual body shape and long-snouted head, indeed, make it look like a chess knight. In the 1960s it was easy to find this fish in shallow waters across almost all the Black Sea coasts and in the Kerch Strait, but eventually its exotic look became the reason for the almost total extinction of the population.

The seahorse leads a nearshore life and is not very mobile; for that reason, it was defenceless against predatory harvesting in the 1980-90s. Tens of thousands of specimens were dried annually to become souvenirs for tourists, and seahorses almost completely disappeared from sea areas located near resorts. That is why in 1994 it was listed in the Red Book of Ukraine and seahorse harvesting was prohibited. After these measures were taken, its population increased enough not to be listed into the next edition of the Red Book in 2009.

Seahorses belong to the syngnathidae family; their closest relatives are pipefish. But the difference is that seahorses swim upright nearly all the time. This ability is provided by the unique structure of its swim bladder, which is located along the seahorse’s body and is divided by a septum which separates its body from its head. The head swimming bladder is bigger than the abdominal one, and this helps seahorse to stay in a vertical orientation. Additionally, the seahorse can move its head up and down, which is a unique skill among fish. The reproduction process of seahorses is also rather peculiar. During spawning, they cling together using their flexible, finless prehensile tails. Then, the male seahorse opens a special brood pouch, which the female fills by laying up to one thousand eggs. A male seahorse broods the eggs, which eventually develop into juvenile fish. The newborn seahorses rise to the surface to take a first gulp of air, filling their swim bladders. Subsequently, they return to deeper waters and spend time with their father, hiding in its brood pouch in case of danger. Additionally, seahorses are real chameleons: like those of the reptile, seahorses’ eyes can move independently, providing it with a 300-degree viewing angle; furthermore, the seahorse can also change its colour, camouflaging itself among seaweed and stones.

Today, the prospects for seahorse populations are becoming more encouraging. Compared to the end of the last century, when this amazing fish almost completely disappeared from the North-Western part of the Black Sea, now it can be found even along the coast of Odessa. But people who are fond of Black Sea souvenirs should remember that the fate of the Black Sea depends not only on the condition of the marine ecosystem condition, but also on our wise conduct.

The publication was prepared with the financial support of the EU – UNDP project ‘Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea: Selected measures’ (EMBLAS-Plus). This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union and UNDP. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or UNDP.

Authors: B. Aleksandrov, O. Adrianova, N. Atamas, V. Bolshakov, O. Bondarenko, I. Chernichko, V. Demchenko, S. Dyatlov, Y. Dykhanov, E. Dykyi, O. Garkusha, P. Gol’din, S. Hutornoy, V. Komorin, Y. Kvach, V. Mamaev, O. Manturova, O. Marushevska, A. Mikelyan, Yu. Mikhalev, G. Minicheva, I. Sinegub, T. Shiganova, J. Slobodnik, A. Snigiryova, M. Son, K. Vishnyakova, A. Zotov. Illustrator: I. Pustovar.

The Bookshelf: In the Café

In August 1928, Mikhail Bulgakov arrived in Odessa and read “On The Run” to the Presidium of the Artistic Council of the Russian Drama. It was decided to include the play in the repertoire, but later it was banned as containing an apology for the ‘white’ movement. The writer stopped at the Imperial Hotel, which was later named Spartak. Now it has been demolished.

A сafé in a city far from the front. A filthy floor. Fog from tobacco smoke. Sticky, dirty little tables. Several soldiers, several ladies, and a lot of civilians. On the stage a piano, cello, and violin play a rollicking tune. I make my way among the little tables and take a seat. A young lady in a little white apron comes up to my table and looks at my questioningly.

“Would you be so kind as to get me a cup of tea and two pastries?”

The young lady disappears, then returns looking like she was doing me a favor and puts a cup full of yellow liquid and a plate with dry pastries in front of me. I look at the cup. The liquid has an appearance that vaguely resembles tea. Yellow, cloudy. I try it with a spoon. It is warmish, a little sweet, a little disgusting. I light up a cigarette and have a look at the crowd. At the neighboring table a group sits down noisily: two civilian gentlemen and a lady. The lady is well-dressed, she rustles her silk. The civilians make the nicest of impressions: tall, ruddy, well-fed. At the peak of draft age. Dressed charmingly. On the little table in front of them appears a plate with pastries, then three cups of “Warsaw” coffee. They start up a conversation. The words of the civilian in patent leather dress shoes, the one sitting closest to me, make their way through the air in snippets. An apprehensive voice. Audibly:

“Rostov… you can imagine for yourself… Germans… Chinese… panic… they have helmets on… one hundred thousand cavalry…”

And again:

“Rostov… panic… Rostov… cavalry…”

“That is terrible,” languorously says the lady.

But it is obvious that neither the one hundred thousand cavalrymen nor the helmets bother her very much. Rustling in her silk, she smokes a cigarette and looks about the café with sparkling eyes. And the patent leather dress shoes continue to whisper. My imagination begins to play.

What would happen if, by a sudden miracle, like in a magic tale, I instantly gained power over all of these civilian gentlemen? Good God, it would be wonderful! Right here in this café, I would get up, go over to the gentleman in his patent leather dress shoes, and say:

“Come with me!”

“Where to?” the flabbergasted gentleman would ask.

“I heard how you were worried about Rostov; I heard how you are worried about the advance of the Bolsheviks.”

“That does you credit.”

“Come with me, I will give you the opportunity to sign up in a unit right away. They will give you a rifle that very moment and a full-ride opportunity to go to the front at state expense, where you will be able to take part in driving back those much hated Bolsheviks.”

I can imagine what would happen with this gentleman in the patent leather dress shoes after hearing that. In one moment he would lose his amazing ruddy complexion, and a piece of pastry would get stuck in his throat. Beginning to regain his feet, he would start to mumble. From this disconnected, but passionate babble it would first and foremost become clear that external appearances can be misleading. As it turns out, this blossoming, ruddy person is ill… Unable to get better, unresponsive to medical treatment, hopelessly, shatteringly ill! He has a cardiac malformation, a hernia, and the very worst sort of neurasthenia. Only by a miracle can one explain the present situation, that he is sitting in a café swallowing pastries instead of laying in a cemetery not eating, but being eaten by worms. And what is more, he has the written testimony of a doctor!

“That’s okay,” I would say, sighing, “I myself have the written testimony of a doctor, and not just one, but three entire testimonies. And none-the-less, as you see, I am forced to wear an English overcoat (which, I might add, simply does not warm a thing) and every minute I must be prepared to turn up in a transport car, or in some other sort of unexpected situation of the military sort. Spit on these doctors’ testimonies! There is no time for them! You yourself just a moment ago were describing the dire situation…”

Here the gentleman would heatedly start babbling on, trying to prove that he is already registered and works for the defense efforts at various places.

“Is it really worth discussing registration,” I would answer, “since it is hard to get, but getting released from it and winding up at the front takes all of one minute!”

“As concerns working for the defense, you have been, how should I put it…, led astray! According to all external signs, according to your every behavior it is obvious that you are working for nothing more than the padding of your own pockets with tsarist and Don currency. That’s one thing, and another thing is that you are working for the destruction of the home front, gadding about cafés and cinemas and spreading your stories of confusion and fear, by which you are infecting all those around you. You yourself must agree that nothing but filth can come of such work for the defense!”

“No! You, unconditionally, are of no use for that job. And the only thing that remains for you to do is to head for the front!”

Here the gentleman would start grasping at straws and would announce that he belongs in a category excepted from service (the only son of a dead mother, or something like that), and finally, that he doesn’t even know how to hold a rifle.

“For God’s sake,” I would say, “don’t tell me about any exceptions. I’m telling you, there is no time for them now!”

“As far as rifles are concerned, that’s just nonsense! I assure you that there is nothing easier in this world than to learn to shoot a rifle. I’m telling you that based on my own experience. And concerning military service, what can you do? I wasn’t serving either, but now I am having to… I assure you, that war, with its accompanying worries and trials, did not attract me in the least.”

“But what can you do! I’m not very well myself, but I’m having to get used to it!”

“I no less than you, and perhaps even more than you, love the quiet, peaceful life, cinematography, soft couches, and “Warsaw” coffee!”

“But, alas, I can enjoy none of these things to my heart’s content!”

“Neither you nor I have any option left except to take part in some way or another in the war, otherwise the red storm cloud will sweep down upon us, and you yourselves understand what will happen then…”

That’s how I would speak, but, alas, I would not convince the gentleman in the patent leather dress shoes. He would start to mutter or finally would understand that he doesn’t want, can not, does not desire to go fight…

“Well then, you can’t help it,” sighing, I would say, “if I can’t convince you, you’ll just have to submit to the circumstances!”

And, turning to the efficient executors of my orders that surround me ( in my dream I, of course, also imagined them as an obligatory element), I would say, pointing at the completely deflated gentleman:

“Take this gentleman to the commanding officer!”

Having dispatched the gentleman in the patent leather dress shoes, I would turn to the next one… But, ah, as it would turn out, I had gotten so carried away with the conversation that the sensitive civilians, having heard only the beginning of it, noiselessly, one after the other, left the café. Decidedly all of them, to the very last one!


After the intermission the trio on the stage began playing “Tango.” I came out of my reverie. The fantasy was over. The door to the café banged and banged. The crowd expanded. The gentleman in the patent leather dress shoes knocked with his spoon and demanded some more pastries… I paid twenty seven rubles and, making my way among the occupied little tables, went outside.

The Caucasian Newspaper, January 5/18, 1920

Translated into English by Sidney Eric Dement of the Binghamton University, New York, USA.

Exhibition “Rose of Chumatsky Shlyakhiv”

The ox is a friend of man: Odessa residents are invited to the Odessa Museum of History and Local Lore for the “Rose of Chumatsky Shlyakhiv”.

Until February 1, in the exhibition hall of the Odessa Museum of History and Local Lore (Lanzheronovskaya, 24/a), you can see the exhibition “Rose of Chumatsky Shlyakhiv” dedicated to the mysterious Chumaks: Ukrainian pilgrims, knights of dusty steppe roads. It would seem that the prosaic craft is the delivery of salt, but without a pinch of this very salt life is insipid, and our ancestors carried it on ox-drawn carts, fighting off robbers along the way, singing poetic songs and orienting themselves by the stars.

The curator of the project, teacher of Greek, Viktor Gomanyuk, united the works of adult artists-mentors and young students, as well as students of the Odessa Children’s Art School No. 2. The head Zhanna Barkar taught the children the folk technique “vitinanka”, when whole pictures are cut out of a folded sheet of paper. The sheet unfolds, glued onto a contrasting background and becomes a painting. Sasha Medvedeva, Masha Ryabokon, Kirill Korobchinsky and other guys have masterfully learned to carve oxen, chumaks, and carts.

There are drawings by young artists from the Kodymshchyna region (Nikolina Ruzyuk, Lyuba Krivoruchko and other authors are worthy of the highest praise), figures of Chumaks made of twisted dry leaves (floristic technique) and two hollowed out and painted pumpkins-tarakuts, in them it was convenient to take water with you …

The exhibition has already managed to travel around the Odessa region – since 2016 Gomanyuk has been arranging “Kodyma-fest”, contacts have been established. Now the project is becoming the mascot of the local history museum, and this should bring good luck. In the Year of the Ox, the image of the hardworking Ox, man’s friend and helper, should be seen as often as possible. Agree, the patroness of the Year of the Mouse, which you and I have the honor to live out, evokes completely different emotions …

Source and pictures: Dumskaya.net

Prominent Odessans: Isaac Babel

Isaac Emmanuilovich Babel, July 1, 1894 – January 17 1940 (according to the records of the Odessa Rabbinate, his real name was Isaac Manievich Bobel), was a Soviet Jewish writer and the most famous one of Odessa. His best known works are the short story collections “Red Cavalry” (“Konarmiya”) and “Odessa Tales”.

Babel was known to have created myths around himself. In his autobiographic works he wrote many “facts” about his own life that contradicted official evidence. For example, in his “Autobiography,” he mentioned that he had been persecuted by Tsarist officials, but no evidence of this has been found in the Tsar’s security service documents.

The turmoil of youth

Isaac Babel was born in Odessa into the family of a Jewish agricultural equipment merchant. The beginning of the 20th century was a time of social unrest and mass exodus of Jews from the Russian Empire. Babel himself was lucky to survive the 1905 Odessa pogrom, hidden by a Christian family. His grandfather was among the 300 Jews killed.

To enter the preparatory class of the Odessa commercial college, Babel had to overcome the quota for Jewish students, but, despite the fact that he received passing grades, he was turned down in favor of another boy, possibly due to a bribe. Babel had to start home schooling and succeeded in completing two years of education in one. Aside from the traditional disciplines, he studied the Talmud, music and languages – he knew English, French, German and Hebrew; his first short stories were written in French. After that, he studied at a commercial college, receiving a business education and obtaining a Ph.D. in economics.

First steps in writing

After graduating in 1915, Babel traveled to St. Petersburg (then Petrograd) with a fake passport and no money. It was during this time that he met his first wife, Evgenia Gronfein, who later moved to France. He entered the fourth grade of the Faculty of Law at the Petrograd Psycho-neurologic University, which gave him the right to receive a residence permit. There he met Maxim Gorky, the famous Soviet writer and political activist, who supported the capable youth and helped him publish two of his short stories. Thus Isaac Babel began his literary career. He wrote for Gorky’s magazineThe Chronicle (Letopis in Russian), which united authors who were against nationalism and World War I. His short stories were recognizable by their specific expression, acuteness and depth. Although short, his works often had a very detailed plot. The topics, though, were rather uniform: bandit Jews of pre-revolutionary Odessa, everyday life of Jews in Odessa and the Western Ukraine before the October Revolution and during the Soviet-Polish War of 1919-1921. His approach to the material for his works was rather romantic and biased; he only chose to describe the moments he himself found striking or extraordinary.

Babel then interrupted his literary activity and tried many different occupations. He worked at the People’s Commissariat for Education and in a printing office. He was also a reporter and fought in the 1st Cavalry Army (Konarmiya in Russian), the same army that lent its name to one of Babel’s most famous short story collections. Babel also served in the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution, Speculation and Sabotage, or simply Cheka – the predecessor of the legendary KGB.

Red Cavalry

Babel made a comeback to literature in 1923. After the Civil War of 1918-1920 between the Red Army and the White Guard, his first works were about the 1st Cavalry Army, of which he had gained first-hand knowledge. His first short stories of the period appeared in 1924. They were “Salt” (“Sol”), “The Letter” (“Pismo”) and “The King” (“Korol”), and together with those written later they comprised two collections: “Red Cavalry,” published in 1926, and “Odessa Tales,” published in 1931. Babel’s works on the 1st Cavalry Army made him one of the most popular Soviet authors. The freshness of his material, taken from life revolving around the Revolution of 1917, and not yet reflected in fiction, made his short stories extremely significant. They are narrated by the reporter Lutov (the name under which Babel himself served in the Cavalry Army). However, “Red Cavalry” was received in varying degrees by Babel’s contemporaries. Critics were delighted but Semyon Budenny, the Red Cavalry commander, called it “slander” and “old wives’ tales.” Maksim Gorky tried to protect Babel from unjust criticism. “Red Cavalry” was translated into several languages, and soon Isaac Babel became one of the best-known Soviet authors abroad.

Pursuing a literary career

In 1928 Babel wrote the play “Sunset” (“Zakat”), thematically connected to the “Odessa Tales.” In the 1930s he tried to reflect the post-revolutionary reality in a number of new short stories. In “The End of the Poorhouse” (“Konets Bogadelni”), 1932 and “Froim the Rook” (“Froim Grach”), 1933, he described the brutal murder of Staraya Moldovanka (a street in Odessa) residents by Cheka agents. Such works did not fail to attract the unpleasant attention of the authorities. A storm cloud started to gather above the “unreliable” author. His interest in French culture and his repeated trips to Paris fueled gossip in literary circles. He was torn between France and Moscow, as his family lived abroad, and this caused the authorities even more irritation. Suspicion towards Babel increased when in 1935 he went to Paris to take part in the International Congress of Writers to Protect Culture, and, defying caution, mixed with the Russian émigrés there.

The end

Despite his constant pledges of support for the Soviet regime, in May 1939 Isaac Babel was arrested on charges of belonging to a Trotskyite terrorist organization and accused of spying for French and Austrian intelligence. During his arrest, several manuscripts were confiscated and almost ended up lost forever (among them 15 folders, 11 notebooks, and seven pads all containing manuscripts).

Babel after arrest

Isaac Babel was executed on January 27, 1940. In 1954 his name was posthumously cleared of all charges “for lack of substantial witnesses.” Three years later, the “Chosen Collection” of his works was published. In its foreword, the Soviet writer, journalist and propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg called Babel one of the outstanding writers of the 20th century, a brilliant stylist and a master of the short story. However, Babel’s works were never published uncensored before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Babel’s heritage was only allowed to be published after his “posthumous rehabilitation” in the 1960s. Still, his works were subjected to severe censorship. The writer’s daughter, Natalie Babel Brown, an American citizen, managed to collect all her father’s inaccessible and never-before-published works and had them published with commentaries in 2002 under the title “The Complete Works of Isaac Babel”.

A square dedicated to Salvador Dalí in Odessa region

An unusual shop in the style of the painting by the artist Salvador Dali “The Persistence of Memory” appeared in the town of Dobroslav, Odessa region. This was announced by the Mayor of Dobroslav Lyudmila Prokopechko.

Motivation of the day: value your time because it is very fleeting.

Lyudmila Prokopechko, Facebook page

She announced plans to build a Dali public garden on this site.

Lyudmila Prokopechko (right)

It is worth reminding that Lyudmila Prokopechko received an award for the largest electoral support in Ukraine for the position of the village head in local elections.

Source and pictures: Trassae-95

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