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September 21, 2002

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We stopped in Kharkiv because it's eastern Ukraine's most important city and all of the direct trains to Moscow were full. Kharkiv is another work-a-day city with European class charm. We met a friendly Ukrainian, a former Chernobyl scientist, who offered advice about touring this city. He says it's unfortunate most people know about Ukraine from Chernobyl. We agree that this country offers much more than radioactivity and a new kind of tan. As the old capital of Soviet Ukraine from 1917-1934, Kharkiv is a well developed city with large city squares, a metro, tidy buildings and streets full of people. Between Kharkiv and other Eastern Ukrainian cities, the land is grassland steppe punctuated by small forests.
The Soviet Union's first skyscraper, here in Kharkiv, built in the late 1920's.
Much better looking is the candycane Blahoveshchensky Cathedral, another church that copies the Istanbul's Hagia Sophia.
Lenin watches over an amusement park; what would he think? Ukraine, unlike other former Soviet Republics and satellites, hasn't replaced Lenin with homegrown national heroes. They still love Lenin as their own.
No photographs allowed in the metro. Is this a security risk?