Kharkiv (Kharkov in Russian) is one of those ex-Soviet cities that has much to say about itself but fairly little to show. Wars and Soviet development have reduced its historical centre, boasting some pretty fin de siècle buildings, to a narrow triangle between vuls Sumska and Pushkinska. The rest is Soviet monumentalism in all its glory, including one of the world's widest squares. The square lost Lenin's monument in the tumult of 2014, when Kharkiv narrowly escaped the fate of Donetsk, now controlled by pro-Russian rebels.
Just 40km from the Russian border, Kharkiv is home to Russian-speaking intelligentsia – scientists and engineers who turned it into the brain centre of the Soviet defence industry in the 1960s. Their grandchildren are now reinventing it as a hub of Ukraine's fledgling IT industry, with an active rock-music scene and a sprouting hipster culture.