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Sachnovshchyna 1
Photo: Christian Diemer
Idyll with an egg-yellow Lada, on the shores of the Dnipro-Donbass canal.

 

In the final part of his exclusive series for E&M, Christian Diemer travels to Sakhnovshchyna in eastern Ukraine, where celebrations are also taking place to mark the anniversary of the village’s liberation during the Second World War. The atmosphere proves, however, to be very different from that of nearby Lozova, and just 150 kilometres to the east, war is again darkening Ukrainian skies.

At seven in the morning, Anna knocks on my door. I am supposed to be taking the elektrychka [regional train] from Lozova to Sakhnovshchyna at 8:46 a.m. Sakhnovshchyna, a small town with around 9,000 inhabitants in the Kharkiv region, is 50 kilometres from Lozova. The Red Army took a day to get there. Consequently, Sakhnovshchyna celebrates its city holiday one day later than Lozova.

But my friends have thought things over during the night. "It is written in your face that you are a foreigner", says Anna. "Times have changed. The war has attracted bad people to our region. It is dangerous for you to go by elektrychka. I will drive you to Sakhnovshchyna."

"Are you afraid to drive with me? I can drive. Only my car is very old." Actually I am quite OK with having company. Anna has a cheerful, vivid voice and laugh. And I immediately fall in love with her car. An egg-yellow Lada, ordered back in the 70s by some relative with good party connections. I can adjust the angle of my seat with a screw. When Anna brakes, my seat slides forward. However fast she drives, the speedometer stubbornly points to 0. And Anna goes fast, hammering over the potholes and crevices, slowing a little or pulling around hard only for the meanest traps. And I understand why this car is made for those roads. It swallows it all, uncomplainingly. "We don’t need a speedometer or a safety belt. These streets are our safety belt, our built-in speed limit. No one can go too fast on them anyway."

Published in Under Eastern Eyes
Saturday, 23 May 2015 06:27

Eurovision Quiz

With all eyes on Vienna for the 60th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, we've compiled a little quiz to mark the occasion. Put your knowledge of this annual celebration of  music, glitz, glamour and voting for neighbouring countries to the test!

Question 1

Conchita Wurst
Photo: Adrian Snood (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0

Following Conchita Wurst’s win in 2014, the European pop extravaganza will take place tonight in Vienna’s Stadthalle, but when was the last time that Austria emerged victorious from Eurovision?

Answer

Conchita’s triumph marked the end of a seemingly interminable dry spell for Austria. It was all the way back in 1966 that the country claimed its only other Eurovision victory. The winning song was Merci chérie by Udo Jürgens, who sadly died last December.

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