Thousands and thousands of foreign fans come in Ukraine every day, not fearing anti-Ukrainian propaganda in Western mass media. Moreover, English fans even held a protest action against "boogeyman" stories about Ukraine. The fans organized a march in Donetsk and were carrying a coffin along the central street in the protest of comments by former captain of English national team Sol Campbell, who called upon his fellow citizens not to come to Ukraine, as they "may come back in a coffin."
The Ukrainians take active part in the Euro-2012 life: watch matches on stadiums, go to fan-zones, take pictures with foreigners and police officers. Euro whirlpool has pulled in not only ordinary citizens, but politicians as well. And ForUm has asked what they think about the Euro process.
Ksenya Lyapina, MP of the Our Ukraine faction:
- Unfortunately, the arrival of bunch of tourists has not improved the image of Ukraine, and there are several reasons to it. First of all, the political situation in the country brought on negative publications about us. Even the "craziest" fans come with caution.
Second, the middle class fans, who have money and who may spend it not only for beer and football but for culture as well, are not the majority. As a result, we have quiet unsanitary situation in the fan-zone.
And third, negative publications are not only due to politics. There is a tough competition for the right to hold championships. Some countries win, some lose. And this time losers try to get revenge over Ukraine by means of accusations of racism and animal extermination.
Once again, we might have a chance to improve the county's image if the middle class arrived.
Petro Symonenko, Communist party leader:
- We need to figure out what all the tarpapers' money was spent for. A lot of things have not been completed and built, and it might make undesirable impression on our guests.
The guests, in turn, are also far from perfect. I will demand that we finally stop groveling before foreigners, who, sorry my language, piss all over Ukraine. The law must apply to everyone without exceptions, and those who abuse our culture and traditions must be punished.
And one more point. Nationalists launched the anti-Ukrainian campaign in foreign press to prevent foreign fans from coming here. It was nationalists, who were running all over Europe calling upon European leaders not to come to Ukraine.
Yuri Kostenko, MP of the Our Ukraine faction:
- I am not satisfied with the preparations. The infrastructure and roads are bad. I have many claims to some projects, the road intersection on Paton Bridge in Kyiv in particular. They spent bunch of money, but built something really odd.
Officially, on the other hand, everything is fine. Foreign fans seem happy. I know, as my son often goes to the fan-zone, and he told me foreign fans at first expected to see machine guns and bombing.
Russian propaganda also contributed to our negative image. They have endless possibilities and they used them to push negative publications about Ukraine.
But nevertheless, Euro-2012 has opened Ukraine to the world. The people now see our country not through the eyes of such politicians, like Merkel or Sarcozy, but with their own eyes. And this is very positive thing.
Yuri Prokopchuk, MP of BYuT-Batkivshchyna faction:
- It's good that so many people come to Ukraine to see for themselves that our country is a European one. They come to know Ukraine with its culture and traditions.
Unfortunately, Ukrainians do not have this possibility - to go to see other countries. Though the Curtain is gone for good, there are still obstacles for Ukrainians to travel. And this situation must be changed.
Tatyana Bahteyeva, MP of the Party of Regions faction:
- I am proud that Euro-2012 championship is being held in Ukraine. We've managed to do just fine. I've been traveling to Donetsk from Kyiv and back, and I've seen full planes with foreign fans. You can see that they are happy to be in Ukraine.
I am a big fan of football and I've been traveling abroad to see Shakhtar matches. I want to say that the cultural level of our fans is way higher. I cannot forget that horrible match with Holland, when Shakhtar won. It was dangerous to move from our seats, and only with the help of police forces, which protected us from local aggression, we were able to leave the stadium. This is wrong. Fans should not be aggressive towards guests regardless of match results.
Valery Bevz, MP of the Communist party faction:
- Whatever they say or criticize, let's face it: Ukraine has done exactly as expected. Our country has proved that we are civilized people and we are able to host serious events.
Speaking about all those "boogiemen" stories in the European press, such publications proved the rule of thumb: one eyewitness is better than two hear-so's. The fans will go back home with positive impressions about our hospitality and respect towatds guests.
Spiridon Kilinkarov, MP of the Communist party faction:
- I doubt that expectations will come true. This project will not become an economically beneficial one, and I doubt it will improve the image.
There is the period before Euro-2012, there is the period of Euro-2012 and there is the period after Euro-2012. And when the latter comes it will become clear that 128 billion of expenses have brought nothing. This is huge amount of money. We could have built 25 thousand of high-quality roads or replace the whole communal service system in the country, or even to pay out former USSR debts. Hence, I think that spending this money for the sake of some virtual image, which is, by the way, formed not with the help of Euro, but other process, is a waste.
Speaking about non-political point, I want to say that foreigners can be seen mainly in the center. Only there you can notice that there are some guests. Unfortunately, the expected boom has never happened. And there are several reasons to it. First of all, fences are very active during such major events. People have not come not because they did not want to, but because those fences have bought out all tickets and are now reselling at crazy prices, and because hotels and accommodation centers have also decided to earn some easy money.
We though the foreigners would leave everything and run here. Well, they have not...
Andriy Parubiy, MP of the Our Ukraine faction:
- Euro-2012 is a European fest, which proved that Ukraine is a European country. For the man in the street, one can see a great deal of hospitality, support and mutual understanding. Even foreign officials point out their satisfaction. Namely, German ambassador to Ukraine said his fellow citizens are charmed with Lviv.
This championship has busted the myths about mass prostitution, criminality and xenophobia in Ukraine, and Ukrainians are motivated more than ever to become a part of the European space.
Taras Chornovil, non-factional MP:
- I don't have impressions about Euro. When Euro came I was gone. I took vacation and left the country. Don't think that I don't like football. I do. But because of this boom and buzz around Euro I decided to stay away from the overloaded Kyiv. I didn't even follow the score.
The European stereotype about Ukraine as an unstable post-Soviet country has been busted. And thanks God the forecasts about Ukrainian racism have not come true. The point is that French, English and Italian football fans always get in trouble while traveling within Europe to watch football games. Hence, the European mass media applied the same cliché to Ukraine. But I think that these very fans feel better in Ukraine: they simply do not have enough 'partners' and grounds to put up a fight, as they have at home, in Europe.
Volodymyr oliynyk, MP of the Party of Regions faction:
- Ukraine has won despite the successes and failures of our national team. All negative myths about Ukraine have been dispelled. In fact, all this negativity is mere politics. And when politics gets its hands on sport, it is wrong.
Ukraine is a player in the geopolitical football. And every other player has its interests. Poland is interested in positive image of Ukraine, Russian on the contrary does not want to see Ukraine in Europe. Germany is a strategic partner of Russian regarding geopolitical situation, and consequently share the view of Russia.
But I think that Euro guests will come home and will tell the true story about our country. They will no longer believe those stories written in the press, and their neighbors and friends will also stop trusting the press reports. This is an example of people's diplomacy. Who would you prefer to trust? Newspapers and politicians or people, who ahve seen it with their own eyes? I believe the answer is obvious.
Leonid Kozhara, MP of the Party of Regions faction:
- This is a success, no doubts. Despite all fears we have proved we can welcome guests at the European level, and sometimes even better. The atmosphere at every match is joyful. I've talked to many Swedish fans. They told me they did not expect to see such modern beauty. And their live statements prove wrong all those negative publications.
I am convinced that those videos about Ukrainian extremists are not fair. In every country without exception you can find a group of extremists, following this or that idea. The British journalists merely came here and purposefully sought for such a group. Well, of course they found. But I am surprise that it was British journalists, as their country itself is well-known for skinhead movements.
All this negativity is pure politics. We have inner political fights, then there are elections in some European countries...Ukraine in this situation is a patsy. We are the country, which is on its way to the EU, but still is not a member. Hence, both West and East think they have the right to finger.
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