Top Events Of 2008

KIEV, Ukraine -- In 2008, yellow currency boards agitated Ukrainians the way waving flags bother bulls. Fluctuating rates flattened many champagne drinks this holiday season.

The Klitschko brothers are one belt away from having a monopoly on the world’s most prestigious boxing titles.

To bring the fizz back, the Kyiv Post presents the Top 10 “feel-good” stories of the year. Maybe 2009 will bring calm and patience. After all, most humans are luckier than bulls, who only see the world in two colors: black and white.

1. Vitaliy and Volodymyr (Wladimir) Klitschko

“They feel good, we knew that they would” is the Post’s slight remake of James Brown’s signature song “I feel good.” The Klitschko brothers’ boxing victories inspired Ukrainians to be proud of their country, if not to keep fit themselves.

Vitaliy Klitschko, also known as Dr. Iron Fist, returned to the ring after a three-year break and quickly reclaimed his World Boxing Council heavyweight champion title.

He beat the much younger Samuel Peter, nicknamed the “Nigerian Nightmare,” in the eighth round in October.

Volodymyr, his brother, currently holds the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Organization world heavyweight titles. Beating Russian Sultan Ibragimov in February, he made Ukrainians roar in his honor. Held in New York, the bout had a special meaning for immigrants from the Soviet Union.

The victory overwhelmed Ukrainians in the Big Apple who still remember traditional rivalries among ex-Soviet republics.

2. Dasha Astafieva

Staying with James Brown’s immortal “I feel good,” Dasha Astafieva feels nice, like sugar and spice. Ask Hugh Hefner for details. The man about town in his 82 years of age undressed her for the American version of his world-famous Playboy Magazine.

He also announced the 23-year-old Ukrainian model and pop singer as January 2009’s Playmate of the Month. If that was not enough, she is also Playboy’s 55th Anniversary Playmate.

To cause more scandal, Astafieva pulled off her underwear in front of the cameras on the red carpet before the ceremony. Despite some ranking it as bad publicity for Ukraine, she put a smile on many faces around the world.

3. Ani Lorak

Ukrainian pop singer Ani Lorak did not wear much either at the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. Hardly anyone, however, can dispute her strong vocals and stage presence. She took second place with the song “Shady Lady,” defeated by Dima Bilan from Russia.

Repeatedly named the most beautiful woman in Ukraine and the best singer by various magazines and music awards, she got engaged to a Turkish man this year.

4. Olympics

Against all odds, Ukraine’s Olympic team finished 10th in the total medal count of 81 countries at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Neither aging Soviet facilities, nor lack of financing could stop Ukraine from winning 27 medals. The team bested their Athens performance by four medals. Ukraine’s strongest side was in archery, boxing, athletics, canoe/kayak, shooting and fencing.

Ukraine’s Paralympics athletes stood an impressive fourth place this September with an impressive 74 medals among 78 competitors.

5. Chess

If chess was a part of the Olympic Games, Ukraine may have scored even better. This brainy game, however, has a separate competition. At the Chess Olympiad in Germany this November, the Ukrainian team edged other nations in combined men’s and women’s results.

On the way home with a precious cup, they had a nerve-wracking adventure with damaged luggage. Their prize reached Kyiv broken and missing a few golden parts. Luckily, the trophy was insured. The team received more publicity for their part.

6. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk

Many foreigners admit that one of the toughest things about Ukraine is its surnames - Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, or indigestible Chernovetsky. But apparently difficult names do not always mean difficult times.

Bavaria football club is interested in Ukrainian national team’s player Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. Korrespondent, the Kyiv Post sister publication, named him the Personality of the Year in the eponymous category to honor his victories.

Currently playing for Russian Zenit, he claimed victory in Union of European Football Association’s Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Russian Super Cup.

Tymoshchuk is considered one of the most sought-after players in Eastern Europe.

7. Olga Kurylenko

This girl had to learn how to fly to land on this list. Olga Kurylenko, the Ukrainian-born top model-turned-actress, shook hands with the British royal family this year and kissed Daniel Craig (aka James Bond) after a world premier of the 22nd Bond film in London.

Playing the secret agent’s friend, rather than girlfriend, Kurylenko performed most of her tricks herself. Fearlessly crossing continents and fighting villains in the movie, she confessed that her own life reminded that of her character, Camille.

8. National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine

The Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine secured the Grammy Awards nomination in Best Classical Performance category. It is considered the highest music honor, the United States’ record industry equivalent to the Oscars. The ceremony will take place in February. The Ukrainians will present a violin concert they recorded with American soloist Elmar Oliveira. It is their second Grammy nomination.

9. Bohdan Stupka

He has the courage of Mongolia’s historic leader Genghis Khan, the wit of Goethe’s Faust and the leadership of hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, a historic Kozak leader. Possibly the most famous living actor in Ukraine, Bohdan Stupka conquered Rome this year. At the III Rome International Film Festival, he won Best Actor award for the film “With a Warm Heart.”

Stupka played a mentally and physically ill Polish aristocrat in a joint Polish-Ukrainian production. At the same ceremony, Al Pacino collected a lifetime achievement award.

10. Viewdle

Ukraine has a room with the Viewdle – a start-up company with facial recognition technology for online video. At the largest web event in the world, LeWeb, they collected gold for the most successful start-up.

Viewdle beat 30 other companies from Europe and a few from the U.S. What started in the ex-military university laboratory in Kyiv has turned into a lifeline technology for major media companies, like Reuters. Thanks to Viewdle, video recognition is no longer an exclusive spy tool.

So there, despite a recession, good news still happens.

Source: Kyiv Post


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