This past summer the broad avenues and squares of Kiev were bustling with color and life; young people clambered over the Soviet-era hilltop park overlooking the Dnieper plain and thronged the cafes and nightclubs below.

By December the ride was over. The ATMs either didn't work or limited how much one could withdraw. The country's largest bank was on the brink of collapse. The Ukrainian government called out to the International Monetary Fund for help, and was answered by a $16 billion loan. The local currency, the hryvnia, was worth half what it was at the start of 2008.

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