Hello,

Last week was really not the best for Kyiv. If the growing COVID-19 cases were not enough, the city has also suffered from all sorts of climatic misfortunes. The air quality levels made the Ukrainian capital constantly top air pollution city rankings, and there were even sandstorms here. Basically, if you were out of Kyiv this past week, we’re slightly jealous because you dodged a bullet. But in spite of everything, there were some positive news, too.

Cool:

  1. It only took Kyiv to top the list of the most polluted cities a couple of times for the Ukrainian government to finally increase the fines for burning dry grass, the process that is, in most cases, the catalyst for worsening air quality.
  2. Ukraine celebrated Easter on Sunday. Only 130,000 Ukrainians attended churches this Easter Sunday. This may still sound a lot, but, in reality, that’s less than 2% of the figure from last year. Ukrainians were strongly encouraged to stay at home this Easter, and online services were organised by many churches. Ukraine’s health ministry previously stated that even if just one-tenth of last year’s figure attended church services this week, the country would see a massive spike in coronavirus cases.
  3. Ukrainian orchestra band PRIME has released a mashup of three songs recorded from their respective homes. They played “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish, “Giant” by Calvin Harris, and “Human” by Rag’n’Bone Man. Take a listen and prepare to be amazed.
  4. Ukraine held a prisoner exchange with the occupied territories in the Donbas. 20 Ukrainians returned to state-controlled territories, while Ukraine handed over 14 people to the Russia-led separatists. For the first time since the start of the war in 2014, Ukraine received more people than it handed over.
  5. Ukraine’s badass Mriya plane, the biggest aircraft in the world, is delivering coronavirus aid around the world.
  6. This is bound to bring a smile to your face. Even during crazy pandemic times, Ukrainian medics find time to unwind – and they deserve it like no one else. This video shows medics from the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk dancing around.

Not cool:

  1. The world-famous Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery has closed down for quarantine after more than 100 positive coronavirus cases were registered there, including that of Lavra’s prior Pavlo. Two Lavra representatives have died from COVID-19. Rumour has it that the head of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church, Onufriy also tested positive and is now bed-ridden in a Kyiv hospital under an alias name.
  2. We earlier praised Ukrainians’ dedication to the #stayathome movement, but every rule has an exception. Svyatohirsk Lavra in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region saw about 300 people coming to the church this Easter Sunday.
  3. An SBU major-general was arrested on suspicion of espionage and treason.
  4. Ukraine’s economy is projected to fall at 7.7% due to the spread of the coronavirus. That’s considerably higher than the world average prognosis of a 3% fall.
  5. Around one-fifth of Ukraine’s coronavirus cases seem to be medics.
  6. Left bank news: This gruesome landfill was found on the left bank of Kyiv.

That’s it for this week. Next week we’ll be back with more, so stay tuned!