Ukrainians struggle for a European Democracy

Date: 
01/13/2014

Do you hear about unrest in the Ukraine and wonder what that is all about? Local Ukrainian Village resident, George Matwyshyn shares that knowledge.

Protest

Conflict as seen in a video by "The Daily Beast"*

The new year has found the citizens of Ukraine struggling with a familiar problem that other democracies have faced... how to reform a corrupt but legitimately elected political government.

Voters in the United States and elsewhere have long grappled with flawed democracies and politicians, but in recent months, the fight for reform has taken a particularly dramatic and brutal turn in Ukraine, fueled by interference from Russia.

It was exactly nine years ago that Ukrainians banded together in the Orange Revolution, to prevent Viktor Yanukovych’s attempt to steal a presidential election with the backing of the Russian government. The deep disappointment with the lack of any positive results from that 2004 protest movement prompted a rebirth of its spirit.

People from around Ukraine and abroad, gathered in Kyiv’s Main Square, Independence Square, now called Euro-Maidan. They put up tents, built fires, brought in warm clothes and food. Unlike the 2004 upheaval, the latest protest was a spontaneous action driven not by politicians but by civil activists and students.

Yanokovych’s party, as well as, opposition leaders Arseny Yatseniuk, (who leads the party of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister unjustly imprisoned under Mr. Yanukovych), Vitaly Klitschko (a world boxing champion), and Oleh Tyahnybok (a right-wing nationalist) never saw it coming. None of them has a clear strategy or message, let alone control the participants of the Maidan protest.

The original protest on the Maidan began with the people’s refusal of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych's hesitation to sign an association agreement with the European Union. This was a free-trade contract between European countries and Ukraine. This agreement represented a confirmation, especially for Ukraine’s educated youth, that theirs was a normal country and part of Europe. Not the “Little Russian” moniker and yoke that Moscow’s privileged have always wanted to affix to their desirable southern neighbor. In addition to trying to eradicate any history, culture, language, religion or ties that were not Russo-centric and/or Russophilic.

One day, in an attempt to disperse the crowd of Maidan dissenters, Yanukovych’s Berkut police-goons beat some of the protesters bloody. The next day Yanukovych was reported to be hunting in his private grounds (stolen converted national public park grounds) as hundreds of thousands of people poured onto the streets of Kyiv in protest.

The protest was no longer about an association and free-trade agreement with Europe, which Yanukovych had just sabotaged. It was about the choice between a post-Soviet Russian orientated system, in which a corrupt and dysfunctional state violates its citizens and a European one, based on the rule of law and respect for citizens.

The struggle for Ukraine depends on the ability of this young generation of Ukrainians to keep the country together. These European Ukrainians are fighting to change the entire political system and shake off the post-Soviet legacy. They do not want to be part of a power struggle within the same corrupt elite that looted its resources and left the country vulnerable to external foreign pressures.

A tiny pop star, Ruslana Lyzhychko is in the heart of conflict and on Facebook is continually posting information. This is a link to her page.

*The video is viewable on the link to the story about Ruslana on The Daily Beast.

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