Ukraine Will Be Ready For Euro 2012 - "Or Else!"

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine is now back on track with preparations to co- host the Euro 2012 football championship, thanks to a government that is sparing few expenses and not particularly concerned about stepping on toes.

Reconstruction of the planned site of the Euro 2012 final, Kiev's Olympic Stadium, is proceeding apace, with overhaul 70 per cent complete and workers on site 24/7. Projected cost has skyrocketed to as much as $600 million dollars, making the sports venue one of Europe's most expensive.

The project was long a poster child for Ukraine's early difficulties in getting ready for Euro 2012, bedeviled with cash shortages to land ownership disputes to an adjacent shopping centre the UEFA said made the stadium unsafe to evacuate.

'We are back on schedule and work is proceeding normally,' said Kiev city head Oleksander Popov during a December visit to the construction site. 'It will be done on time and be a beauty.'

The offending shopping centre next to the Olympic Stadium is long torn down, and across Ukraine feverish work is apace.

Each game city is slated to receive at least a single spanking new airport terminal, and Kiev's Boryspil airport will get three, according to officials at the National Agency for the Preparation of Euro 2012.

The overhauls will triple airport capacity and cost taxpayers more than $2 billion dollars, according to independent estimates.

Ukraine's national rail system is receiving a massive $4 billion dollar capital infusion as well, with 10 high-speed passenger trains manufactured by Hyundai the highest-profile big ticket item.

'They (the South Korean trains) will cut travel times by half,' said Borys Kolesnykov, head of the Ukraine preparation effort, in a statement. 'This is part of our government's contribution to getting ready for Euro 2012.'

Automobile travel from the Polish border across Ukraine to the game city Donetsk, currently a painful 20 - 24 hour drive across often pitted roads, will by Euro 2012 require some 11 hours along a smooth modern highway, President Viktor Yanukovych said in December comments.

International visitors will navigate in Ukraine's game cities by new bilingual street signs, and tens of thousands of university students mobilized by the government will be on hand to help.

Fans will resolve law and order issues with Ukrainian police officers now receiving, without exception, mandatory English lessons, according to an Interior Ministry statement.

But for just about every ambitious Euro 2012 plan, already, some one in Ukraine is complaining.

Student chat sites in Kharkiv, a university town, are awash with gripes that if a young person made the mistake of studying at a state institution, he or she stands to be dragooned into working for free as a 'volunteer' for Euro 2012.

Kiev homeowners living within a 1.5 kilometer circle of the Olympic Stadium - one of the Ukrainian capital's most densely- populated districts - should be forced to dismount air conditioners and satellite antennae facing major streets, so that international fans obtain a 'good impression of city architecture,' according to a recent statement by Popov, a Yanukovych appointee.

'They can say they want me to take down my air conditioner in the middle of the summer, but I'd like to see them make me do it,' said Yury Markarenko, a legal worker living on Kiev's Velika Vasilkivska street. 'I'll see them in court!'

Markarenko and any other person wanting to step outside in Kiev will certainly be more visible to police, who are planning to link together video feeds from all government-operated and privately- operated cameras in the city centre into a single network, TSN television reported.

'This way a police worker will now be able to see whatever happens in Kiev,' said police spokesman Volodymyr Polishchiuk.

Civic rights activists have criticised the police video monitoring initiative as intrusive.

Source: DPA