In December 2004 I traveled for the first time to Ukraine as an election observer. I have just returned from a two-week visit where I had an opportunity to observe the bureaucracy and general population at work and play. I had the “pleasure” to be on Kreshtatyk and the Maidan on a Saturday evening. The public drunkenness was appalling. Young men were unconscious on the sidewalk having their fill of beer and liquor. Civilized society requires age of consent laws and socially responsible laws on public alcohol consumption. Selling beer to anyone that can afford to buy it, is dangerous and leads not only to a breakdown of normalcy but an elevated risk of alcoholism and behaviour that is completely beyond the realm of civilized society. Ukraine needs to enact drinking laws that make sense and protect the health and well being of its youth.
Secondly, the government of Ukraine in co-operation with private foundations needs to build a museum solely dedicated to the Holodomor. This tragedy is not acknowledged with the exception of the memorial in front of St.Michael’s Sobor. If the First Lady need a project and a guiding light for Ukraine 3000 let it be a museum that explores, analyses and pays tribute to the victims of Stalin’s madness. Why cannot there be a museum like the one at Rodina Mat, which extols the virtues of the Red Army’s struggle against fascism, but shows the true horror the Ukrainian people went through.
Last but not least, the petty bureaucrats in the airport, train stations and public transit police need to tale lessons in customer service. Their behaviour, mannerisms and general comportment are appalling to say the least. These service providers need to be the ambassadors and behave in a manner that is professional, courteous and helpful, not barking orders and behaving as storm troopers. Tourists are a valuable source of income for the country and spend money lavishly. Make their stay pleasant and memorable not a visit they would regret.
Ukraine is a wonderful country with many historical treasures and should become a travel destination. Make it hospitable!
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