With a snowstorm raging outside, Olha draws a stack of banknotes from her bag and starts inserting them in the ATM. By the end of a lengthy operation she has banked some 1200 hryvnia. Yet with the hryvnia devalued over 300% since 2013, it amounts to just €40.
In her mid 30s, Olha belongs to the new generation and the professional class behind reformist forces in Ukraine. Despite a decent monthly salary of over €500 euros (the minimum wage stands at some 1600 hryvnia or €55 euro), she struggles to have anything resembling the life of a young European, while real estate property or even savings are well beyond her reach. Other social strata are obviously worse off and struggle just to pay their rising gas and electricity bills – side effects of the macroeconomic reforms that the government has put in place over the last couple of years at the behest of the IMF, often a precondition to the loans Ukraine depends on to avoid bankruptcy.