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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Andrey Kurkov tells us in the Preface to this book that he has kept a diary for more than 30 years. This 234 page abstract covers just 154 days between 21st November 2013 and 24th April 2014. Kurkov lives within 500 yards of Kiev's Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Independence Square, or simply The Maidan, so his diary naturally contains extensive reference to the increasingly violent and destructive actions and reactions centred on the Maidan and surrounding streets during that period.

Kurkov records that on Sunday 8th December he spent some time in the Maidan and joined in the chanting, calling for the widely-despised Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, to resign. For the most part, though, he skirts the action as he passes between his home, his office and various other points in the city. Nevertheless, he is extremely well-informed and deeply interested at the political level.

One of his most prescient remarks is, 'This country has never had such a stupid President before, capable of radicalising one of the most tolerant populations in the world!' Not that Kurkov has any admiration either for Victor Yushchenko, the previous President and chief beneficiary of the 2004 Orange Revolution, or for Yulia Timoshenko, the former Prime Minister who, although imprisoned, clung to the hope of succeeding Yanukovich.

I have so far felt that there is an enduring question about Yanukovich's ultimate departure: - Why did he flee when he did (in the early hours of Saturday 22nd February), when an agreement to leave him in office for a further ten months had just been signed? Kurkov helps me towards an answer.

We have known for some time that Yanukovich's packing began on Wednesday 19th, and that many of his associates left Kiev on Thursday 20th. So the realisation that all was over evidently came on Wednesday 19th.

Kurkov reports, 'This night of warfare (Tues 18th - Wed 19th February) has transformed the city centre to ruins.' The Kiev Metro stopped running on Tuesday 18th and was still not running on the 19th. On Tuesday 18th, the Maidanistas set fire to the headquarters of Yanukovich's Party of Regions. The Berkutovsky (thugs used by the government as auxiliary police) invaded the Trades Union building - used by the Maidanistas as a dormitory and a hospital - and set that on fire. The Central Post Office and the Music School were occupied by the Maidanistas on Wednesday 19th. With minute-by-minute rolling headlines reporting events such as those, no wonder if those in power felt their time had come to its end.

Moreover, it is alleged that on the night of Tuesday 18th Yanukovich telephoned Vladimir Putin but failed to win his support. Putin effectively confirmed that (as early as Thursday 20th) when he said that he gave Yanukovich no advice - and that his earlier offer of a multi-billion dollar loan to Ukraine was now withdrawn.

So, on Wednesday 19th Yanukovich knew that for him it really was Game Over. He perhaps didn't know that the infiltration of unidentified Russian troops into Crimea was to begin on Thursday 20th, whilst he was still President and active in Kiev, an overlap of timing that Kurkov points out.

I found the book a depressing read. That is because of the many pointers to the mess that has ensued. Nevertheless, it is a valuable read, and definitely recommended if you want to know more of the background to EuroMaidan and the events that have followed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2014
This is the partt of a private diary, kept over years, which deals with the events between Nov. 2013 & April 2014. It is chiefly interesting to me because it is not an overtly journalistic or academic study; events emerge day by day against a backdrop of concarns about his daughter's schooling, visits to his Mother in hostpital, Christmas Etc. The crisis grows from nothing much and ends with the annexation of the Crimea & Ukrainian troops regaining "control of the small town of Slanyavogorsk".

Kurkov is a major Ukranian novelist, a speaker, lecturer & columnist. He continues his schedule of appointments as the situation unfolds.

All in all, this is a very moving, personal account of day-to-day life in a changing world.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2014
Short and not so sweet, Kurkov's diaries paint a tense five months in the Ukraine from November 2013 to April of this year, covering the period from when President Yanukovych refused to sign an agreement with Europe to the time after the initial tensions have cooled. One does need to be careful with diary writing given that they can be very subjective in nature, however, Andrey Kurkov's work is easy to read, well written and quite personable.

To be honest, I had little knowledge of who the author was before I purchased the book, but from his diaries I was able to glean that he is a writer, author and a literature specialist of sorts. He travels throughout the Ukraine and also Europe during the five months covered in the book which suggests to me that, despite the simmering tension during the time covered, there was some freedom of movement, particularly in the western half of the country.

One interesting aspect about the author is the fact that he's ethnically Russian (raised in the Ukraine since childhood) and not Ukrainian. I found this very curious as he voices nothing but scorn for the actions of Russia. Not only this, but Kurkov writes how not every Russian living within the Ukraine is sympathetic to the idea of partition. Certainly those in the eastern part of the country may well favour a return to Russian rule but this is by no means universal. Not every citizen of the Crimea appears to be willing to accept Russian citizenship either. Kurkov also comments on the level of pro-Russian propaganda employed by the Russian media groups following the seizure of the Crimea, something worthy of that used in the Soviet era

Kurkov's work is consistent and very interesting. Diaries can be subjective as I mentioned earlier, but if what Kurkhov says is correct, and there is little reason to doubt his sincerity, then Russia is deeply, deeply involved in destabilising the Crimea and the Ukraine in general. This not only violates international law, it ignores it completely and is costing Russian lives as well as Ukrainian. The Cold War still seems to be echoing loudly in Eastern Europe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2015
Anyone interested in the early days of the crisis which is still playing out in Ukraine will be interested in this eye-witness account from a journalist who was there.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This book comprises recent diary entries by someone who is living through very dramatic events in Ukraine.

Don't expect a profound work of art. There are raw emotions here (and very one sided at that). Don't expect a detached historical analysis either. But these shortcomings are also the book's strengths. They are only to be expected in a freshly written diary.

The context pages at the end are useful (I had always thought Stalin invaded Poland in 1939, rather than Western Ukraine - but Kurkov's way of looking at that period helps to explain a lot of the otherwise baffling propaganda currently coming out of Moscow).

In the end this book helped me to understand the current events in Ukraine much better. It is very easy to read and never less than illuminating.

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on 13 March 2015
Excellent brought this for Christmas present n my husband loved it 😊
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on 21 September 2015
bought as a present for step-son he happy all that matters
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2014
A facinating insight into the current events in Ukraine from a Russian who has lived there for many years, and is very much leaning towards the west.
I also enjoyed his novel Death and the penguin.
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on 3 December 2014
Prodduct and service great.
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on 11 December 2014
interesting read
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