Saturday, October 18, 2008

Got a message from a U.S. reporter researching a Ukraine-related story. Among other things, he wrote:

SBU has an English-language website, with a button for a 'press centre' but there are no contacts or information listed. I can't find any names or contacts for spokesmen for at the SBU, either. I've tried the Ukranian embassy here in the U.S., as well as the Ukranian consulate in New York, all to no avail. That's why I'm writing you.

So I went to SBU's website. Locating their contact info in Ukrainian wasn't difficult - it's here. Their English-language site lists different phone numbers than those on the Ukrainian page, and it took me some time to find them: the trick was to look at the page titled "Phones of attendants" - whatever it may mean - in addition to their "Press Center" page, which is indeed blank. Getting through to them and then getting anything out of them wouldn't be an easy task, either, I suspect.

Then I decided to look for contact info for the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The website listed on the government portal - - refuses to open. They do list some phone numbers, though - but no email.

Very frustrating. And this is just the tip of the messy iceberg.


  1. Allow me to make a suggestion.

    Soooo, Neeka, how does one solve the problem?

    In the US, every local, state and federal official, especially those who are elected, make sure that they can be contacted by citizens.

    You can go to the US Congress web site and check it out for yourself.

    Each Congressman makes sure that the constituents who elected him/her can be heard. Each Congressman has not only a federal office, but also a local office in the district whose people he/she represents.

    The point is this - an ordinary citizen can contact a Congressperson with a problem, and get a response.

    Soooo - why not try contacting whoever is responsible in Ukraine, such as the Cabinet, with your observation, a solution, and the reasons for implementing a solution?

    With a copy to the newspapers, to see if anyone in government really cares about the problem? The newspapers could follow the story, and see whether anyone in government cares enough to fix the problem.

    After all, as you have observed many times, if Ukraine wants to get its story out, then Ukraine should make it easy for people to get the story.

    Instead of filtering everything through Moscow.

    "You gotta put it down where the dogs will eat it."

  2. By the way, Neeka, I'm not trying to be preachy here, but I am not kidding about citizens contacting Congresspersons.

    It's happened many times that Congress has taken up problems pointed out by citizens.

    Many, many times.

    That's what one gets in a truly representative democracy.

    Instead of oligarchs, or their front-men/women elected to Parliament representing oligarchs - and damn the rest of the country.

    As in Ukraine.

  3. Elmer,

    The problem is our dogs eat different food than your dogs. Newspapers here are free to expose all kinds of wrongdoings - but in most cases no one's gonna act on it. And having a messy website isn't even a crime, right? And they aren't gonna admit having spent all the money on fancy cars and Koncha Zaspa houses, which could probably explain why they can't afford to hire a decent computer guy.

    As for getting Ukraine's story out, here's one that really deserves it - and I guess we'll see at some point whether parts of it are deemed to be interesting enough to be offered for your compatriots' reading pleasure:

  4. I suppose one has to start somewhere, with that first small step on the journey of a thousand miles (as the Chinese say).

    Neeka, Tymoshenko is the Prime Minister. Her web site seems to encourage contacts. May I suggest submitting this information to her, with a copy to the papers?

    Similarly, Lutsenko actually had a forum in the Ukrainian Pravda newspaper. He is a person who seems responsive, accessible, and who has a very clear idea of the responsibilities of government - to serve the people. He might be another good person to submit this information to, since he also is a minister.

    As far as Chornobyl - indeed, a tragic story, and the article you linked to evokes the extremely tragic consequences of "strangers in their own land."

    Here is another link:

    And, from a more clinical, scientific viewpoint, yearly observations, including "Ghost Town and Land of the Wolves" (the dog-wolves, or wolf-dogs, are also noted in Zerkalo Nedeli article):

  5. I read a few years ago that Elena's website was to some extent fake:


    This site - - has tons of stuff on Chernobyl, both pictures and discussions.

  6. Neeka,

    I apologize for the late comment, but I just found this post. I operate the Chernobyl and Eastern Europe website ( and am also an editor for the English-language website and forum for

    Regarding Elena's website, she has visited the Chernobyl Zone, but it was on a regular tour, not on a motorcycle. Motorcycles are not allowed in the Zone for personal protection against radioactive dust. Also, a guide from Chernobyl InterInform remembered Elena from one of the tours and wondered why she brought a motorcycle helmet with her.

    So, parts of her story are fictional, but it did a lot of good to bring attention back to the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.