On the brink

Reports from Ukraine

“Isn’t it dangerous there?” “Mustn’t it be very unpleasant at the moment?” “Why on earth Ukraine?!”

E&M author Christian Diemer regularly hears such questions when asked about his current whereabouts. And it is certainly true that Ukraine is unlikely to be topping many people’s holiday destination lists any time soon. But while the conflict in Ukraine has been dominating the daily news for more than half a year and has long become a war of propaganda, the actual atmosphere and goings-on in the country remain vague and largely undifferentiated to much of the western European audience. Though not for any longer, thanks to Christian’s on-the-ground reports from Ukraine, written especially for E&M’s Sixth Sense.

Christian has been working on his PhD about traditional music and national identity in Ukraine since 2012. He started travelling through the country when it was still unimaginable that the spectre of war would be seen again so close to Europe. Back then, Yanukovych was was firmly in the saddle and, despite some people’s frustration, the prospect of another revolution seemed remote.

However, as we all know, the situation was soon to change drastically and Christian has found himself doing field research in different parts of the country, including some close to current war zones. Two weeks ago, he also took part in an international delegation led by the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, meeting international organisations and representatives in Kyiv. Over the course of the following weeks, he will share his observations and adventures, as well as the sentiments and wonders he has witnessed, as part of an exclusive series here at E&M.

Meet lonely post-Euromaidan activists, unecclesiastical priests, internationals who know every trick in the book. Listen to the tales of drivers, nationalists and local politicians. Continue on to long-legged beauties and drunken philosophers, bumpy roads and decaying palaces, vast landscapes and songs so intense that only unfiltered life could write them. Get lost in a realm of mystical fate and erratic slapstick, of blatant sexism and heart-breaking stories, of brittle and succulent beauties, where sadness and joy lie closer to one another than anywhere else in the world.

Fall in love with a country and people that – even on the verge of war with Russia – have not stopped drinking, dancing, singing, falling in love, laughing, crying.




In this first installment of E&M’s new special series On the Brink, Christian Diemer shares a Ukrainian driver’s views on Putin, women and Europe. A word of warning, though: it does contain some colourful language.


The second part of Christian Diemer‘s series On the Brink takes us to the heart of celebrations for the Ukrainian national holiday in L’viv. With Ukrainian patriotism stronger than ever, Christian is surprised to find himself at a muted and pensive Independence Day party…


As part of an excursion organised by the Studienstiftung des Deutschen VolkesChristian Diemertravels to Kyiv and meets with various figures from Ukrainian civil society, all now trying to come to terms with a post-Euromaidan world.



In this fourth installment of E&M’s exclusive series about the current situation in Ukraine On the Brink, Christian Diemer takes a trip to the former presidential residence in Mezhyhir’ya, not far from the Ukrainian capital.



Continuing on his journey of exploration throughout Ukraine, Christian Diemer arrives in Chernivtsi, a forgotten city in the west of the country, the fate of which has been inextricably tied up with the turbulent history of Eastern and Central Europe over the last centuries.

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In the sixth part of E&M’s exclusive series on current developments in Ukraine, we find our correspondent Christian Diemer in the city of Korosten’, where he gets into the spirit and celebrates the deruny (potato fritter) holiday like a local.



Following on from his trip to Korosten’ for the pototo fritter festival, E&M’s Christian Diemer is again caught up in a Ukrainian city’s celebrations as Lovoza marks the 71st anniversary of its liberation during the Second World War and honours the veterans who fought to achieve that freedom. However, thoughts of a more current conflict are never far from the surface.



In the final part of his exclusive series for E&M, Christian Diemer travels to Sakhnovshchyna in eastern Ukraine, where celebrations are also taking place to mark the anniversary of the village’s liberation during the Second World War. The atmosphere proves, however, to be very different from that of nearby Lozova, and just 150 kilometres to the east, war is again darkening Ukrainian skies.