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Ukrainian Rock Band Okean Elzy

Formed in the city of Lviv in 1994, the band Okean Elzy has gathered a following of fans throughout Ukraine and beyond its borders with music and lyrics that resonate with the band's audience. The five members of Okean Elzy are Slava Vakarchuk (vocals, songwriter), Denis Glinin (drums), Denis Dudko (bass guitar), Milos Jelic (keyboards, arrangements) and Vladimir Opsenica (guitar) and their studio albums include Tamde nas nema (1998), Yan a nebi buv (2000), Model (2001), Supersymetriya (2003), Gloria (2005), Mira (2007), Dolce Vita (2010), and Zemlya (2013).

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Features

Historical Reminders of the Scythians in Ukraine

Thousands of burial mounds across the southern steppes of Ukraine remain as a reminder of the historical presence of the Scythians, a semi-nomadic equestrian tribe who occupied the area between the 7th century BC and the 4th century AD. Scholars are of the opinion that the Scythians, who were of Iranian descent and spoke an Iranian dialect, started moving into the region in the late 8th century BC after being ousted from Central Asia. The Scythians drove off the Cimmerians who had been occupying the steppes, some of whom settled on the Black Sea coastline, with others waging a successful campaign to occupy Sardis in Lydia, part of the territory then known as Asia Minor.

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Features

Ukrainian Crafts: Petrykivka Painting

Originating in the village of Petrykivka in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, the Petrykivka style of painting is one of Ukraine's unique and treasured forms of ornamental folk art which is still practiced around the country today. Characterized by the colorful flowers and lush foliage found in the area, Petrykivka is used to decorate a wide variety of items, both practical and decorative. The founding of the village of Petrykivka dates back to the late-18th century and people living there decorated the exterior and interior of their homes, as well as the items in them, extensively with the form of painting that came to be known as Petrykivka or Petrikov. Walls, stoves, furniture, plates, kitchen utensils, musical instruments and other items would become skillfully crafted works of art.

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Features

Important Bird Areas of Ukraine

Working in partnership with Birdlife International, the Ukrainian Society for the Protection of Birds (USPB) has its headquarters in Kiev, with local branches throughout Ukraine supported by thousands of birdwatchers and ornithologists. The primary aim of the USPB is the preservation of birds and their habitats, thereby conserving the biodiversity of Ukraine. The non-governmental non-profit organization undertakes a number of key activities to achieve their goals, one of which is to identify and monitor Important Bird Areas (IBA) through a network of caretakers and coordinators.

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Features

Ukrainian Crafts: Musical Instruments

The Ukrainian folk music instrument known as the kobza, is a lute-like stringed instrument carved from a single block of wood, which is played by plucking its strings, either with the fingers or a plectrum attached to a ring on the middle finger. It has a medium length neck which may or may not have frets on it. The instrument is thought to have arrived in Ukraine with Turkic people who traveled from Abkhazia to settle in the Poltava region in the 13th century. The name 'kobza' is of Turkic origin and a player of the instrument is referred to as a 'kobzar'. The instrument gained recognition in the 16th century, and in the 18th century was modified to include treble strings referred to as prystrunky, literally meaning 'strings on the side', a referral to their placement in relation to the original strings. Kobzars were very often blind and played the role of wandering minstrels to earn their keep. By the early 20th century, the kobza fell out of favor having been replaced by other musical instruments, including the bandura.

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Features

Visit the Beekeeping Museum in Kiev

Located in Kiev, the Beekeeping Museum pays tribute to the pioneers of the art of beekeeping, a practice which has been an integral part of Ukraine's economy for centuries. Visitors to this fascinating museum will note that the statue of a guard at the entrance, dressed in red trousers with a blue, brass-buttoned military jacket, is in fact a beehive. The entrance to the beehive is through the guard's mouth and the inscription on his guardhouse states that "Bees Know No Borders".

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Features

Embrace Tradition at the Sorochyntsy Fair

Every year in August, the village of Velyki Sorochintsy near Poltava hosts an event that was declared in 1999 by Presidential Decree to be Ukraine's national trade fair. Known as the Sorochyntsy Fair, this event is a celebration of culture, history and ingenuity, attracting visitors from far and wide to join in the festivities which feature traditional and contemporary handicrafts, theatrical performances, music, dancing and plenty of tasty traditional food and drink.

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Features

Celebrating the Feast of Ivan Kupala

Celebrated each year on the night of July 6/7 in Ukraine, the Feast of Ivan Kupala marks the northern hemisphere summer solstice with various rituals and special foods being part of the occasion. While today Ivan Kupala celebrations are said to be dedicated to John the Baptist – Ivan being the Christian saint's Slavic name, and Kupala being a reference to the Slavic word for bathing – many of the rituals, such as ritual cleansing, have roots which are associated with the Pagan god of harvest and fertility, Kupala/Kupajla. Some scholars claim that the name Kupala is derived from the name of the Roman god of love, Cupid. Whatever the origins of current customs, the Feast of Ivan Kupala is a popular event, with Ukrainians of all ages participating in it.

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