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A Monopoly on Kiev, but in a Good WayClick to open full size image in a new window

Last week a friend known for his bulk email threads about hockey and all things Ukrainian stumbled upon an interesting contest going on right now that involves this Slavic city of renown and the world’s best-selling board game, Monopoly. The game’s manufacturer, Hasbro, is looking to produce a new world edition of the celebrated capitalist game and Kiev (Kyiv) could well end up alongside New York, Paris and London on the final edition if enough people get behind the effort.

The idea is simple: you click on to www.monopoly.com, register yourself (it’s free) and vote for 10 of the 58 cities that have been selected as finalists for the game board. While the likes of Kinshasa, Calcutta and Tehran didn’t make the cut, several Canadian cities, most European capitals – including Kyiv – and a few other surprises remain in the running. Once you’ve selected your ten favorites, these votes are added to the growing tallies and by Feb. 28 when the voting closes, Hasbro will announce the 22 cities that made it.

From what I understand it’s possible to vote numerous times (so far I’ve voted just once), but you can send your picks to your friends and encourage them to play (the website prompts you to send your selections to one other person at a time). A list of the cities and the votes they’ve received is tallied in real time, so you can even see if your vote makes any difference. Last time I checked, Kyiv had just slipped in the back door in 22nd spot, with the likes of truly great world cities Istanbul, Moscow and Las Vegas all trailing! Keep it that way and make Monopoly part of the local lingo as much as salo and horilka!

Something’s being done about the traffic

Apparently, President Viktor Yushchenko has finally put his foot down on poor traffic policing in the country and on bad drivers. In recent weeks the president has enacted a number of major changes to deal with the situation. Best part is, so far they seem to be working.

To start, fines for many moving violations (overtaking in oncoming traffic, driving on sidewalks, entering an intersection without being able to clear it) have been doubled and in some cases tripled, so instead of a simple Hr 10 tucked into the driver’s passport, bad driving will cost bad drivers much more.

What’s more, traffic cops from Donetsk and other parts of the country not familiar with who’s who among Kiev number plates have been brought in to mete out the new punishments, which for the worst offenders means the road police are taking away driver’s licenses, forcing drivers to wait in interminable cues in government road inspection offices just to pay a meager administrative fine (approx. Hr 17) to get it back. If Dante had ever imagined a tenth circle of hell, this would surely be it.

Finally, more road police have been drafted into service across the country to make sure that they can document accidents more quickly and thereby allow for vehicles to clear the way for oncoming motorists. Why this practice of waiting for a road police officer still exists is anyone’s guess (it’s an incredible waste of time), but at least the situation is improving.

Friends who drive say that the new measures are indeed working: traffic flows have improved immeasurably, people are much more concerned about being stopped by the police and this, in turn, has meant that drivers are behaving themselves. Imagine that!


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