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Ukrainian rock band comes to Athens for a show September 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Post Soviet-era act Okean Elzy, a top seller in its region, set for Lycabettus show on September 24

‘We all started listening to whatever we felt like listening to… Things that were previously outlawed gained acceptance. Of course, this wind of change brought with it both good and bad things,’ says frontman Svyatoslav Vakarchuk of the post-Soviet era in Ukraine.

Local concertgoers will have a rare opportunity to get a taste of Ukrainian rock music, an unknown quantity for most in this country, later this month with a performance by Okean Elzy, an extremely popular outfit domestically, in Russia, and other former Soviet regions. Okean Elzy are scheduled to perform at the open-air Lycabettus Theater on September 24. This show in Greece, whose Russian-speaking community is estimated at over 500,000, will launch the pop-rock band’s world tour, “Ya yidu do domu” or “Returning Home”.

Okean Elzy were formed in 1994 in Lviv, Ukraine, and have since released 10 albums, most of which have gone platinum. Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, the band’s vocalist who studied physics, is considered one of Ukraine’s most successful musicians. The current line-up of Okean Elzy also includes Petro Cherniavsky on guitar, Denys Dudko on bass, Milos on piano and Denys Hlinin on drums.

Vakarchuk gives an insight into the Ukrainian band’s course ahead of its first ever show in Greece.

«We were brought together by our love for music. All of us liked the Beatles and old, good English rock music. We never made plans but simply played because it’s what we liked to do,» said Vakarchuk. «We lived to play. We’d experiment, argue, and play at some club in the evenings. None of us ever wondered about tomorrow, for the band.»

Besides the rock sounds from the West absorbed by the band during its development, Vakarchuk said traditional Ukrainian music was also a deep and fundamental influence for Okean Elzy. «Its various shades in style cannot be described or compared with anything,» said Vakarchuk.

Vakarchuk, who was born in 1975, all the band’s members were born in the 70s, and remembers the days of Soviet rule very well. As a youngster, he said, he listened to banned music from the West, but these restrictions suddenly vanished following the demise of the USSR in 1991.

«We all started listening to whatever we felt like listening to. Some focused on the Soviet music market, others turned to the West, and others combined the two,» recalled Vakarchuk. «We desired this wind of change. Things that were previously outlawed gained acceptance. Of course, this wind brought with it both good and bad things. So, gradually, the different types and styles of music began to expand.»

As for Okean Elzy’s approach to music, Vakarchuk said the band never felt concerns about where its material was headed. «We never thought too much about the style of music we were playing, but if it’s important to give it a name, then call it Ukrainian Rock,» remarked Vakarchuk. «Of course, much has changed since 1994. We were younger, understood less, and dived into it blindly. Since then, we’ve not only learned to listen to sounds but silence as well.»

The band’s lyrics, Vakarchuk responded when asked, were as important as the act’s music. «I think that for Okean Elzy the lyrics and music are one. The subject matter of all our songs is about simple things in life. Like scenes from a movie,» the frontman said.

Galina Kakos, a Ukrainian news correspondent based and married in Greece, who, like the band, hails from Lviv, described Okean Elzy as «a symbol of contemporary, independent Ukraine.» Kakos, who heads a society here called Greek-Ukrainian Thought, explained that: «Up until 1991, culture in the Soviet Union was a mosaic formed by many different cultures of various countries. Anybody who wanted to pursue an artistic career would go to Moscow, the center. After 1991, these other Soviet states, like Ukraine, were decapitated.»

Amid this sudden void created by the newly found independence, various artists gradually began articulating their feelings and views. Okean Elzy were a part of this wave of artists. The band uses the Ukrainian language for its lyrics, a decision that runs counter to career-minded acts in the former Soviet Union, which tend to opt for Russian, instead. Despite Okean Elzy’s language decision, the band became a hit in Russia, too, where it has managed to fill a 40,000-capacity stadium in central Moscow.

Vakarchuk is on the ballot for upcoming early national elections, scheduled for September 30, a week after his band’s show in Athens.

Another Okean Elzy fan, Lena Sartory, a Russian literature graduate who is currently based here for a PhD on a Greek literature magazine of the 1930s, “To Trito Mati” or  “The Third Eye”, knows the Ukrainian scene well.

«There was an explosion of rock bands in Ukraine in the 90s that are popular in Russia as well, even though they sing in Ukrainian,» said Sartory, who singled out Okean Elzy and another band, Vopli Zidopliasova, as her favorites. «Both emerged almost simultaneously. The difference between the two is that Okean Elzy are more mainstream and are influenced by British pop, both in their music and video clips. Vopli Zidopliasova are more artistic. They’ve searched more. But both are liked very much in Russia and other former Soviet countries.»

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The Fatsa Wax Museum in Cyprus adds new famous faces September 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Larnaca.
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Famous faces such as David Beckham, George Clooney and Danny DeVito are coming to Cyprus. But before you get too excited, the move won’t be made by the real-life stars themselves but by their wax models.

The location is the Fatsa Wax Museum in the lace-making village of Lefkara, which offers the visitor a historical view of the culture of Cyprus and has now expanded to incorporate an international section, which is due to open shortly.

The Museum, which opened in May 2005, has more than 200 sculpted wax models, covering 3,000 years of life in Cyprus, from the Neolithic period to the present day. At the grand opening, the Museum’s owner and General Manager, Pambos Nicolaides, said: “I see this as a shining pearl of Cyprus’ cultural inheritance and a valid point of reference and remembrance of the intricacies of Cyprus history.” He said he was inspired by a visit to London’s Madame Tussauds and told a friend that he would one day open a similar museum on the island.

Yesterday, Nicolaides explained that the international section will also feature, among others, the Beatles, Peter The Great and, Superman and Batman for the children. He added that many visitors to the Museum are non-Cypriots, “so I thought it would be a good idea for them to see things and people that they can relate to.” According to Nicolaides, the new section will be made up of around 80 to 90 models, with some even wearing original clothes, which have been ordered from Walt Disney.

Inside Fatsa Wax Museum, visitors pass through a parade of Cypriot politicians, led by the first President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, and his successors Spyros Kyprianou, George Vassiliou, Glafcos Clerides, and Tassos Papadopoulos.

Alongside them in a series of tableaux depicting golden or dramatic moments of Hellenic life are Saint Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, and her husband the Emperor Constantinos Chlorus, Cyprus’ Archbishop Kyprianos, legendary hero of the Greek resistance against the Ottomans who was hanged in 1821, General George Grivas Digenis, leader of the EOKA independence fight against the British in the 1950s. There are also depictions of village life of days gone by and a wax reproduction of a traditional Cyprus country wedding.

There are eight themed segments, marking a chronological review of the island’s historical, cultural and political past and present, when the island was constantly in the footsteps of the conquerors of this strategic prize.

His Museum, Nicolaides asserted, will remind present and future generations of the problems that were faced and overcome by Cypriots throughout history, as they provided a series of ideals for their country. “The museum has been a great success and I am now thinking of expanding in Cyprus and maybe abroad,” he said.

For further information > the Fatsa Wax Museum
G. Papandreou Street, Pano Lefkara, Tel 24 621048
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, November – April: 09:00 – 17:30, May – October: 09:00 – 19:00
Entrance: C£3.50 for adults, C£2.50 for students and pensioners, C£2.00 for children 6-12 yrs.

Greek Aegean Airlines in Romania September 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, News Flights.
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Aegean Airlines is in exclusive negotiations for the acquisition of Romanian airline Blue Air, according to a report in the Romanian newspaper ZiarulFinanciar. 

Greek passenger airline Aegean Airlines said that it is in talks to acquire a stake in Romanian low cost carrier Blue Air. In a filing to the Athens Stock Exchange, Aegean Airlines said that the talks are ongoing and have not come to a conclusion.

Blue Air is the only low-cost, no-frills airline in the Balkan country, while the decision as to whether the acquisition will be completed or not is expected to be taken in September.
Brokers said that Blue Air has a fleet of four Boeing aircrafts and flies out of the second largest airport of Bucharest to major European cities.

Greek firm Michaniki to get listed in London September 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Greek construction company Michaniki is opting for the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of London in order to draw funds for important investments it has lined up abroad in the sector of property development.

Sources suggest it plans the setting up of a holding company to incorporate the group’s five subsidiaries in Bulgaria, Egypt, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. Then the holding company is to make a public listing on the AIM, as this market offers faster listing and less bureaucracy than the London Stock Exchange. The investing public will probably have access to about 25 percent of the holding company.

Railway section project awarded September 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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Greek construction group J&P Avax said a consortium between itself and Alstom Transport signed a contract for the 48 million euro project for the electrification of a railway section between Aharnes and Kiato.

J&P Avax has a 25 percent stake in the consortium and Alstom Transport SA makes up the remainder.

The railway section will be electrified by means of an overhead line using the latest 25KV/50Hz technology, permitting operating speeds up to 200 km per hour, the group said.

The project covers railway lines totaling 229.3 km include the study, design, supply, construction, operation and maintenance of the electrical power supply system, as well as the connection to the national power grid. The project has a 22 month deadline for completion.

Two billion euros earmarked for the fire-stricken areas September 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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European Union to assist through support frameworks and funds

Over 2 billion euro will be allocated to fund the program for the reconstruction and development of fire-stricken areas, which the government will present in a few days and Egnatia SA will implement.

The plan will comprise two phases, sources say. The first will involve the reconstruction of the stricken prefectures and be funded with at least 700 to 800 million, mainly from the European Union’s Third Community Support Framework, the EU’s Solidarity Fund, the Public Investment Program, the Special Fund for Managing Emergencies that will manage people’s donations, and borrowing from the European Investment Bank.

The second phase of the plan focuses on the development of those prefectures and will be funded primarily by the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF – as the Fourth Community Support Framework is officially named) with at least 1 billion.

The first phase of the plan, which will concentrate on reconstructing the production base of the stricken prefectures, will have CSF III as its main source of funding. The European Commission last Wednesday gave the green light for the following measures:

– The extension of the period for the implementation of CSF III so that projects in those areas can be included and realized, thus facilitating the maximum possible absorption of all EU funds.

– A further revision of CSF III with the transfer of funds totalling 500 million from projects dogged by delays to other ones, including those to be implemented in the devastated areas.

– Financial aid from the EU Solidarity Fund. This Friday the Economy Ministry will host its first meeting with EU officials and representatives of the fund. The Ministry will present a preliminary estimate of the damage sustained and examine how funds can be spent, in preparation for the application that Greece will send to Brussels in a few months. The Solidarity Fund does not cover losses relating to permanent infrastructures, but expenditure for provisional measures such as temporary housing and infrastructure. EU Commissioner Danuta Huebner said on Friday that Greece could receive up to 200 million from the Solidarity Fund.

Another portion of the reconstruction cost will be met through low-interest borrowing from the European Investment Bank. The EIB announced yesterday that at the request by Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, it has approved a 20-year loan which will initially reach 100 million. When there is a more detailed estimate of the damage caused by the fires, it will determine the final amount of the loan to be given to Greece.

The development phase will rely on the NSRF, from which 552 million will be given to the Western Greece Region and 414 million to the Peloponnese Region. Provision will also be made for the funding of several specific projects in the two regions.

In order for the infrastructure projects to be funded from EU coffers and advanced rapidly, the government is considering assigning them to Egnatia SA.

Silver for Greece in Rowing World Championships September 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Aquatics.
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Greece won the silver medal in the Rowing World Championships on Sunday, as Vassilis Polymeros and Dimitris Mougios finished second in the lightweight double sculls final in Munich, Germany.

The Greeks clocked 6 mins 28.89 seconds, just 1.68 seconds behind gold medalists Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist from Denmark.

This was the third world championship medal for Polymeros, who won the gold in 2005 and silver in 2001.

Polymeros and Mougios have also secured their place in next year’s Olympic Games in Beijing, as have Chrysi Biskitzi and Alexandra Tsiavou, who finished fifth in the women’s lightweight double sculls final on Sunday.