It is my forth week in Ukraine. We have spent most of our time in Kharkiv but tomorrow we go to the capital (Kiev) for 3 days. I have friends and relatives over there who are eager to meet me and my family. It will be a very good opportunity to compare the two cities and also compare Kiev to 3 years ago when we last went there.
Why are Ukrainians poor?
We visited my home town over the weekend and left our kids with grandparents for a week (we are back to Kharkiv right now). During my 2 days stay I enjoyed homemade food (some of it is depicted to the right) and spent quite some time discussing Ukrainian politics and economy with my dad who gave me an excellent however a little sad explanation of why Ukrainians are poor. Here it is:
- Why Ukrainians are poor? Because they are greedy.
- Why Ukrainians are greedy? Because they are uneducated.
- Why Ukrainians are uneducated? Because they are poor.
My dad has a funny way of expressing his thoughts especially after he has a few vodkas. I find this bit especially amusing.
Ukrainian society is polarized
We went to my friend’s summer house yesterday. The house is a small cabin near Kharkiv and half-acre of land around it. We ate barbecue, drank beer and talked, talked, talked. My friend runs small business and has radically right (by US standards) views on economic situation in Ukraine. According to him Ukrainians a poor because they don’t want to work. They are grown up with an idea that the government will always take care of them which was one of the premises of the old regime.
My friend told me a story of his neighbor who works for a chemical plant. The guy is as poor as a mouse because the salaries at such places are to laugh at. To add some sunshine to his life he steals fertilizer from the plant and the money he earns selling it on black market is enough for him to buy vodka for a few weeks until he steals another couple of bags. The guy simply doesn’t know and doesn’t want any better life.
Bureaucratic deadlock, stuck in Ukraine
Here is the scoop of the problem which affects us directly. Ukraine issues two types of passports: internal to use inside Ukraine and external to use for travel. My wife’s external (travel) passport expired last spring and we obtained a re-entry permit from Ukrainian consulate in the US before going to Ukraine. We planned to get her travel passport renewed in Ukraine however once in Kharkiv we realized that we left her internal passport back in the US (you need to have it with you to renew your travel passport). I promptly asked my friends to DHL me the passport only to find that the Ukrainian law doesn’t allow passports in the mail. Now we (or rather my wife) are stuck in Ukraine without documents to leave the country and we can’t get them from the Government because Ukrainian law doesn’t allow us to receive necessary paperwork by mail. Tell me, should I laugh or should I cry?