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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Background and Thoughts on the EuroMaidan Uprising in Ukraine

    By now, you’ve probably heard about the uprising in Ukraine that started in the dying days of November. If you haven’t, I’ll give you some background before delving into my own thoughts.

    Ukraine is a large nation in Eastern Europe, bordered by Russia to its east, Belarus to the north, Poland to the west. Romania, Moldova, and the Black Sea make up most of its southern border. It has long been Eastern Europe’s breadbasket, and is to this day a large producer of food.
   
    For most of its history, Ukraine has been under the control of the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union, becoming a sovereign nation on the 24th of August, 1991.

    Since independence, Ukraine has been divided. The western half of the country is generally drawn towards the steadily growing European Union, while the eastern part of the country wants to maintain close ties with the Russian Federation, which wields a large amount of influence in the region.

    In November, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, after lengthy negotiations, balked on a trade agreement with the European Union. To many Ukrainians, this represented great opportunity, and those people who were eager to see the trade agreement with the EU fizzle out immediately took to the streets. Despite a brief lull in the protests in at New Years’ and Orthodox Christmas, protests have continued with renewed vigor. Today, the Ukrainian capital of Kiev (often spelled “Kyiv”) is steaming with anger as protestors clash with police. The blue and gold Ukrainian flag has been spattered with blood.

   
Now for my personal thoughts.

    I was born in Russia, and came to the United States as an infant. My heritage is Russian, and I am proud of that. I fly the Russian flag with pride. Culturally, however, I am as American as they come. Being raised in the United States has taught me the importance of democracy, free thought, and equality. These may not be uniquely American values, but I am extraordinarily blessed to live in a country where the rule of law is upheld and the people are able to protest against the government without fear of consequence. The United States is my country, and will be until I depart for the Great Unknown.

    But this isn’t about me. The purpose here is for me to express my thoughts regarding those men and women protesting in Kiev and similar Ukrainian cities.

    The Ukrainians on the streets of Kiev and across their country are an inspiration to me. Two years ago, I saw Russians cram the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities to protest the fraudulent legislative elections in the State Duma. But those protests did not amount to anything...President Putin cracked down and silenced the opposition, to put it simply.
    But the Ukrainians have not given up, and I hope they inspire the people of Russia to again rise up against the corrupt government sitting in the Kremlin. Ukraine deserves freedom from excessive influence and independence to conduct their own business the way they see fit.

And so I am proud to say “Солидарность с Украиния! Свобода для всех восточная Европа!”

Good luck Ukraine! Keep fighting for your dignity and your independence! I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! As one with Russian heritage, I see Ukrainians as our brothers and sisters! It is true that Russia has wronged Ukraine in many ways, but seeing Ukraine in crisis has reminded me that there is always time for reconciliation and cooperation sometime in the future. I hope that becomes reality some day, when both our countries have thrown off authoritarianism in favor of fluid, strong democracy!

I know I am only one person, but I trust that I am not the only one with these thoughts! Ще не вмерла Українa!




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