The European Capital of Culture for 2026 will be announced on Wednesday, the 2nd of June.
The City of Oulu is bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture 2026 after the City Council’s decision in accordance with Finland’s 100th Anniversary celebratory decision.
The Finnish city has been working on preparing the bid for several years, and the application has benefited from a deep level of consultation with its citizens. People from the cultural field, those far from it and those from somewhere in between. This highlighted the significant role of culture in community character, improving quality of life and re-connecting people.
Developing the application together with residents has helped Oulu to reconnect with its shared history, identity and pride. The bidding affects everyone in Oulu as well as its neighbouring municipalities, both now and in the future.
For further details, visit the website Oulu2026
Oulu is proud to say that the Sister Cities supported Oulu2026 and cultural climate change.
Let’s make this dream come true!
The racing season 2021 started at the Odessa Hippodrome, last weekend. The event is a traditional holiday, both for horse-riding enthusiasts and for residents of Odessa, who decided to bring their children to see the horses.
The honour to open the competition fell to the famous Odessa’s poet and character actor Boris Barsky. The actor of the House of Clowns theater expressed confidence that the hippodrome will continue to work and regain its former glory, even in spite of the concrete skyscrapers surrounding it.
Before the racing programme, children’s dance groups performed, and between the races the audience was entertained by vocalists and musicians.
According to Konstantin Savchits, director of the Odessa Hippodrome branch of the State Enterprise “Horse Breeding of Ukraine”, more than 50 horses competed in speed on the first test day. The best in the races was “Luhansk” Guga, who covered 1800 meters in 2 minutes and 4 seconds.
Horse breeding has been going through hard times in Ukraine for many years. For this we hold such events to popularise equestrian sports. We are trying to involve the inhabitants of Odessa. After all, many do not even know that we have a hippodrome with a very colorful history.Konstantin Savchits, director of the Odessa Hippodrome
The next traditional prize races will be held at the Odessa hippodrome on June 12, and on June 5, when you can watch the derby of the Orlov breed horses.
The official visit of the Head of the Slovak Government Eduard Heger to Kyiv, on May 28, strengthened the diplomatic and commercial relations between Slovakia and Ukraine.
Slovakia has always been a staunch supporter of Ukraine and the European aspirations of Ukraine. This is one of my main messages today in Kyiv. And we are vocal on that in Brussels as well. Presidential offices of both countries are working on the declaration you mentioned.Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of Slovakia
Eduard Heger said that Ukraine’s European integration aspirations had already been officially recognised many times and added that he would talk with Ukrainian interlocutors about Ukraine’s reforms, during his official visit to Kyiv.
Indeed, transformation and modernisation of the country is a prerequisite for becoming a member of the EU and NATO. The reform process in Ukraine is continuing and Slovakia believes it will be sustainable and successful. Btw, the changes are not about the EU and NATO, they need to be introduced be Ukrainians themselves to make Ukraine stronger, more resilient, to the benefit of all the Ukrainians.Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of Slovakia
For now, it is important to use all the provisions the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine offers, the Slovakian Prime Minister noted.
During the visit, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal agreed with his Slovakian colleague on the need to intensify bilateral cooperation.
Today, we have agreed on the need to intensify our bilateral cooperation. Holding the next fifth meeting of the Ukrainian-Slovak combined commission on economic, industrial, scientific and technical cooperation will be an important step in assessing the state of trade between our countries.Denys Shmyhal, Prime Minister of Ukraine
The parties, in particular, discussed the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister of Ukraine thanked Slovakia for providing assistance in the amount of Euro 600,000 for the purchase of the vaccine. Denys Shmyhal informed the Prime Minister of Slovakia that Ukraine is working on the creation of a digital national “Covid Certificate”.
In addition, the parties agreed to maximise the use of the transit potential of the countries. Shmyhal also noted that the introduction of joint border and customs control at the border is important for both countries.
Among other things, the two prime ministers agreed that cooperation between countries in the field of employment and labour migration requires additional attention from both governments.
We know that someone will count many more things, inventions, achievements of Ukrainians, and we will be sincerely pleased with that. And we dream that our compatriots will “invent”, create and construct another 5 thousand different useful things.
And for now we will be glad that thanks to Ukrainians and people from Ukraine there are things without which we cannot imagine our lives now. Compare – from the latest to the oldest.
Solving the sphere packing problem in 8 dimensions
Experienced mathematicians from all over the world have “fought” over this crucial task, which helps to correct errors in mobile phones, the Internet and space research. On March 14, 2016, the world of mathematics received an extraordinary Pi Day surprise when a thirty-year-old woman from Kyiv, Doctor of Natural Sciences Maryna Viazovska posted to the arXiv a solution of the sphere packing problem in eight dimensions. Her proof shows that the 𝐸8 root lattice is the densest sphere packing in eight dimensions, via a beautiful and conceptually simple argument.
The solving took her two years, occupies 23 pages and is recognised by the scientific community as “stunningly simple” and awarded the prestigious Salem Prize. Maryna has now been invited to work at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne.
Jan Koum was born in a small Ukrainian provincial town in the late 70s. His family was the most ordinary and unremarkable: the father is the builder, the mother is the housewife. Childhood was not easy, because the family lived more than modestly. Then came the collapse of the Soviet Union and the difficult years of Perestroika. Jan’s father passed away after a long illness. The side job did not bring a stable income to the young man, the mother could not get a job because of her age. Then it was decided, having sold everything that was possible and having collected all the savings, to move to America. It took two years to prepare for the move, during which the boy studied English and took private lessons to “pull up” his knowledge. The family moved to a town called Mountain View.
He was an ordinary employee of a computer company, one of several thousand. But on February 24, 2009, he incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California.
Unique shootings of the Oscar-winning Titanic
It was Anatoly Kokush, a native of Kerch, who suggested that director James Cameron to “attach” the cameras to moving objects and thus enhance the visual effects. The technology of the Ukrainian was used in all known films: from “Taxi” and “Troy” to “Harry Potter” and “Twelve friends of Ocean”.
However, it is not widely known in Ukraine. With the help of equipment invented and constructed personally by Kokush and in his studio, more than 300 films, many promotional videos, the best concerts, shows and sports competitions around the world were made.
Anatoliy Kokush was born in 1951 in Kerch. He graduated in engineering from the Leningrad Institute of Film Engineers. After graduating (since 1974) he worked as a designer at the Dovzhenko film studio, then in 1990 he founded his own company – the company “Filmotechnik”, which is a unique combination of design bureau and workshop.
For his work, Anatoly Kokush twice received the world’s highest award in cinema – “Oscar”.
Dance Academy at the Grand Opera in Paris
The most famous ballet school was founded by an outstanding dancer, choreographer Serge Lifar.
Born on April 2, 1905 in Kyiv. He sang in a church choir of the St. Sophia Cathedral and dreamed of becoming a pianist. He got into ballet school by accident. At 17, Serge Lifar immigrated to Paris where he lived all his life, but until the end of his days he considered himself a Ukrainian.
Serge Lifar is a great dancer of the past century. The premier danseur of the Ballets Russes and the favourite student of Serge Diaghilev. For more than 30 years Lifar worked in the Paris Grand Opera as the premier danseur of the ballet at the beginning, and as a choreographer and ballet master later.
As the founder of the Institute of Choreography in Paris and the University of Dance, he taught the history and theory of dance at Sorbonne and was also Honorary President of the International Dance Council, which maintained relations with UNESCO. The French mint founded a medal in his honour. He created more than 200 ballets and developed his own system of preparation of ballet dancers.
One day a young Kievan boy after reading Jules Verne’s novel “Robur the Conqueror” had a dream as if he was on the board of a ship. He imagined that he was entering the luxurious cabin, and from the windows he could see far below the sea island with green trees. The boy did not know that his dream would come true in thirty years – that he would be on the board of amphibious aircraft designed by himself. His name is Igor Sikorsky.
Young Sikorsky’s most successful design was for a large, four-engine plane that he named Ilya Muromets, after a legendary Russian folk hero. He completed it in 1913. Czar Nicolas II, who personally inspected the craft, presented Sikorsky with a diamond-studded gold watch for his efforts.
Sikorsky left Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution. He arrived in New York City in 1919 with $600 to his name and the Czar’s gold watch in his pocket. Here he began a second career as an aviation designer in 1923 and founded the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation on a Long Island chicken farm owned by a fellow Russian. Here Sikorsky produced twin-engine seaplanes.
After several succesful years and several experimental models, Sikorsky discovered that a single rotor mounted vertically on the tail of the aircraft worked best, and on January 14, 1942, Sikorsky himself piloted the first successful test flight of the helicopter in America.
We had a privilege to make an interview with the French violinist, writer and and filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon during the Odesa International Violin Competition. Looking ahead, it was one of the most charming and inspiring interviews ever.
Bruno Monsaingeon, probably the most outstanding music filmmaker, who has documented life and work of the greatest artists of our time. Among them there are very interesting movies about famed odessans David Oïstrakh and Sviatoslav Richter. We settled down on the terrace of Monsieur’s suite and talked about love of music, Pyotr Stolyarsky, Soviet musicians and his adventures in Odessa and Moscow.
You are a concert violinist who, in the last forty years, has devoted a large part of your time to the making of films on the music history. It is very unusual to find a musician filmmaker. How did it happen to you? Which is your purpose in this filmmaking activity? To consolidate the memory of these personalities, to promote classical music, or a personal spirit of research?
It is not unusual that instrumentalist musicians are busy with writing music organising concerts. Particularly, composers from the time of Bach and Mozart, to romantic composers, like Rachmaninov and many others, who wrote excellent music. So I do not see why a musician is not allowed to make films.
My great example is Glenn Gould, who stopped performing in public and devoted himself to making radio programmes to do a recording activity, which is the same. It is my best example in that particular field because he knew everything about recording music and he brought also some ideas on how to make a film. We had that extraordinary collaboration together.
He was a genius. When I say a genius, I mean a permanent genius. In the sense that everything was around him, the fact that he did not have any connection with anybody outside and he could really devote most of his time to the communication of the music. And that’s what I am trying to do via film, communication and I am very much interested in the fact that, a career in music if it means only repeating oneself, from year to year, is not enough.
For example, like most of the greatest interpreters of the past, Yehudi Menuhin was very active in generous events, founding the school, not only is touring all the time, but also having an activity that was in a way a social activity, very interested in what will happen in the future. So I think that in music there is all that enormous range of activities. That’s what it happened to me. Very simply.
So my trip to Odessa changed into a quite extraordinary story.
After the presentation of you film about David Oistrakh, you mentioned that you feel a special connection with Odessa. Can you describe better your ties with the City?
May I tell you about what happened to me in the past? I first came to Odessa in 1993, just by chance. I really wanted to come and to stay for a long time, but it was very problematic. In 1993, I was in Moscow when the putsch started. All of the sudden, when I was supposed to go back to Paris, I learned that there was a plane flying to Odessa and I could have a seat on it. And I knew that I could not come back easily. But I decided: “ok, I will go”. So, I took the flight, for just one day, because I had no time, than I had to go back by car hitch-hiking, then I had to find a train from Kyiv to Moscow, eighteen hours of a train, and Moscow was under the curfew, which was very exciting!
We were all staying at the Budapest Hotel Moscow with no rooms and everybody had to sleep under the tables in the restaurant. It was fantastic! Anyway, I came to Odessa for 24 hours and literally went to all the places. It was rather easy, because you could hitch-hike with anybody for few money. I remember when I arrived. I changed one hundred dollars bill and it got half an hour because the change was few millions of Karbovanets (Ukrainian currency before the current Gryvnia – ed). With that bunch of money I could survive for one single day. And was not a tourist, I was just immensely curious about that city.
Of course I wanted to know where Oistrakh had lived. The main object of the trip was to discover where Oistrakh had spent his early years. And musically and in terms of culture where all these people been brought up in Odessa, it was totally surprising and very interesting. My passion for the city started on that very day. It was a fantastic discovery for me.
Then, I returned gratefully to Moscow. And those days, they announced my death on the French press.. This is another extraordinary story. I have a very good friend, who was one the tennis champion Andrej Česnokov, he was the first great Soviet tennis player, the number 8 in the world at that time. He was in Paris when I left to Moscow and he stayed at my place. He said: “please give me a call when you will arrive to Moscow, so that we can talk”. Because in those days, in the hotels in Moscow there were not central telephones. And the phone in each room had a number different from any other room.
So I called him in Paris and I gave him my telephone number of that current room. And then he was calling me for 5 days. When I left for Odessa he called me once again and suddenly there was another voice at the telephone. Somebody who had taken my room, of course. I had no time to tell him that I was leaving. It was impossible for me call abroad. Then he left Paris for Toulouse to play the championship. He passed the first round, then he decided not to play in the second round because he thought I was dead. He heard that some French television director had died at the Moscow radio and he was sure that it was me. So he gave an interview to the sport magazine Equipe and said “you know, I am out of the tournament because my best friend have died in Moscow”. So, when I came back to Paris finally from Moscow, I went to get my car in the BMW garage and when they saw me they said: “what? Are you alive?” And they showed me the press, where on the first page of a sport magazine it was written that I was died in the putsch in Moscow. So my trip to Odessa changed into a quite extraordinary story.
After that, I did the film on David Oistrakh, I already knew the place. So I had that kind of scouting trip, which helped me to do the film quickly and easily. It was still difficult to reach Odessa even years later, especially with the crew. That was the first of two trips to Odessa and then I came again. Five or six years ago because they had a kind of retrospective on my films. And then I spent few days here, which was absolutely extraordinary.
With that feeling of freedom, which is the result of a country without a law. Not the same conception of laws that we have today in Europe, which is becoming quite Americanised. It think that it is a good to have a law, but the dictatorship of the law is something we have to fight against. On the other side, you know: Crimea, Russia and Ukraine, they need to pick a little of our conception of law, so that they will be meeting something together, one day.
Oistrakh was an exception and how he obtained the number one position in Soviet Union, I really do not know.
I think it is essential that we get rid of that horrible sense of law from the Americans, very soon we will need a law to get just a piece of bread. And it was quite different. I could feel that sense of freedom, for foreigners particularly, that one can breathe in this wonderful city.
In your film it is mentioned that David Oistrakh was born and started his music education in Odessa. But then the city is not mentioned anymore. Which role played Odessa in Oistrakh’s life?
Well, I suppose that it was very important. He was brought up here went to the very famous school of Piotr Stolyarsky. And in all his steps, as it is mentioned in the film by the very Oistrakh voice. I had the privilege to have access to many letters Oistrakh had written. And I had also his original autograph, so that I could film it as a kind of authentication.
This is what I tried to do about Stolyarsky. It was like acknowledging the fact that a big institution, which was the State, could deliver bread to the poor people. He was very grateful for that. And it was explained in his letters, with a beautiful sense of innocence, and I tried to show in the film what Oistrakh said himself. I hate films where just the people are talking about someone all the time. Of course, I did it also for Oistrakh’s film, with famous musicians.
He was an example of something, which is quite unique in the field of music. Music is plagued literally by rivalry. Each of these players are jealous. In America it was particularly widespread because of the influence of Isaac Stern. Yehudi Menuhin was much beyond that. And he thought on the contrary that Oistrakh was the greatest Russian violinist and he had a wonderful friendship with him. No sense of rivalry.
Oistrakh wrote a letter of full of gratefulness to Furtwängler for the concert they played together. They had that wonderful connection. I felt it was necessary to show it and I really wanted to emphasises it, because it was a unique fact in musical life. Two of the greatest violinist ever in the history had that extraordinary relationship, real friendship.
So Odessa is mentioned many times in the correspondence. Oistrakh remained here up until his eighteen. Anyway, Oistrakh was very grateful to Stolyarsky.
These Soviet musicians were completely indifferent toward the system.
There is a big question which was not touchable by the film: how did a man like Stolyarsky carry on with this school under the Soviet regime? It is a secret. I cannot explain it. How did he keep his private school? He probably was subsidised by the Soviet government. He had probably such a reputation that he could defend himself by being nationalised. How was that possible in a regime where everything was nationalised, there were no private ownership or initiatives, nor independent work.
This independence was very mysterious. He was the founder, he recruited his own staff with other pedagogues, and was looking over everything in the school. They also played chamber music, which was quite revolutionary at that time. This very open way of schooling helped Oistrakh to become a very cultivated musicians. Which was not so usual in the Soviet Union. Many musicians were trained in central schools in Moscow to be very specialised: you are dedicated to one page of Rachmaninov and you even do not know the rest of the piece. And the next year you have something else which is totally regimented. That makes excellent instrumentalists but rarely great musicians.
Oistrakh was an exception and how he obtained the number one position, I really do not know. He was not very diplomatic, but he was very charming. And he probably went through all the obstacles in that country, which were absolutely incredible.