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19 Aug, 2007 02:10

Sorochinskaya yarmarka takes place in Ukraine

Sorochinskaya yarmarka, or fair, has been the subject of an opera by famous Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky and immortalised in literature by Nikolay Gogol. Vendors from all over Eastern Europe go there for five days.

The fair is rich on haggling, arguing and definitely politics, especially on the eve of another election campaign.

President Yushchenko, the country's most famous beekeeper, looks down at the bustling crowds from numerous billboards, while supporters of the Prime Minister are promoting their party right next to a dummy bear, a popular photo opportunity.

It seems that it hasn't changed much since the 19th century.

Sheep, pots, wedding pies, kitchenware, and no map of where exactly these things are – vendors may have done it on purpose to restore the original atmosphere. They were a mess but apparently so vibrant and colourful that famous writer Nikolay Gogol glorified them in his novel.

Living in Russia, he was writing about Ukraine, the village where he was born and the fair held there.

Actor Bogdan Chernavsky plays the part of the great Russian writer at the fair.

“I think we should drop the discussions if he was a Russian or a Ukrainian writer. Of course he was Russian, he was writing in Russian language and is known to the world as a Russian writer. But of course he has Ukrainian roots, this is his village,” explained Bogdan Chernavsky.

And it remains a melting pot of Slavic cultures.

Natalya came from Russia to visit the fair when she was 13 years old. Impressed by the fair back then, her family moved to Poltava for good. Now she's singing in Ukrainian to an audience from all over the world.

“When we came here for the first time, we tried to get as close to the stage as possible. The culture fair was amazing, the costumes so bright and beautiful that I thought I want to be a part of it too. And my dreams came true,” said Natalya Dyachenko, singer at the Sorochinskaya fair.