Tagged: Letter from Ukraine IV

Letter from Ukraine IV, 2011

Privet (Hi) from freezing Kyiv for the fourth time

New protests kicked off the year 2011. The statue of Josef Stalin was blown up on New Year’s Eve in Zaporizha (western Ukraine). On January 14, a protest was held at the Presidential Administration building against recent arrests of mem-bers of nationalist groups who claimed responsibility for decapitating the bust of Josef Stalin in Zaporizha on December 28, 2010.  On January 17, citizens took to the streets to prevent the government from shifting the tax burden to small and medium-sized businesses.

New protests kicked off the year 2011.

Yanukovich was promising a five-year tax holiday for small businesses during the 2010 presidential election campaign and one year later, he’s accusing small business owners of trying to avoid paying taxes.  Furthermore, he promised to respect laws but rolled back media freedoms, banned peaceful protests and is said to have fixed the nationwide local elections.

Citizens took to the streets to prevent the government from shifting the tax burden to small and medium-sized businesses.

The events of Unity Day (Den Sobornosti) on January 22 have revealed how divided Ukraine is. The Kyiv City Administration received 20 applications for holding different rallies in Kyiv on that day. Civic leaders and Yulia Tymoshenko, for example, called on citizens to gather on Kyiv’s St. Sophia Square to support demands for early parliamentary elections. Yanukovich and his allies organized an all-day concert on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) where attendees were paid 120 Hryvnas to be there. But many people for some reason were not paid the bribe, so they stormed one of the Ukraine’s Regions Party offices and demanded their money.  It is really the terrible poverty that makes people to stay and hold the Ukrainian flag – they can earn 120 Hryvnas ($15) for standing seven hours on Maidan Nezalezhnosti.

Celebration of the Unity Day on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square).

Attendees were paid 120 Hryvnas.

I spent most of the time at Tymoshenko’s rally where speeches were delivered, where folklore music and theater were played, where newspapers and pamphlets were given away and where Tymoshenko demanded parliamentary elections to be held this year or else a peaceful revolution will topple the president and his government.

Folklore music and theater were played during the Ukrainian national holiday of Unity Day.

Followers of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko gather together on Kiev’s St. Sophia Square to celebrate Unity Day on January 22. It was on this day in 1919 that the Ukrainian National Republic united with Western Ukrainian National Republic to form a short-lived state.

Supporters of Julia Tymoshenko applauding to former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s speech.

Moscow police have closed the only Ukrainian library in Russia, confident that now it can do so without objections from the Yanukovich government in Kyiv. Like the Soviet predecessor, the Russian government has never been supportive of the more than five million ethnic Ukrainians living in Russia, refusing to open any Ukrainian-language state schools even as it has complained about the closure of some of the many Russian-language schools operating in Ukraine. A small number of citizens demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs against the library closure.

A small number of citizens demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs against the library closure.

Did you close the Ukrainian Library? We will close Russian schools!

On January 27, a demonstration against political repressions was held by one of the grassroots organizations, the Tryzup (Trident – a Ukraine-wide nationalist organization) in front of the Ukrainian Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Kyiv. Seven activists of the Tryzub were arrested for beheading the bust of Stalin on December 28, 2010. Later on, more members of Tryzub were detained.

I do not like Stalin either. Am I a criminal?

Demonstration against political repressions.

The Kruty Heroes’ Remembrance Day on Jan. 29 has shown how Ukrainian the opposition groups are divided as well.  First, in the morning of that day Julia Tymoshenko and her supporters laid flowers honoring all of those killed at the Askold’s Grave in Kyiv. Later, the Ukrainian People’s Party with The Tryzub (All-Ukrainian Association) did the same. Why they didn’t do it together, only they know.

Who are the Kruty heroes? It all happened 93 years ago (January 29, 1918), when students fought the Bolsheviks, defending the Ukrainian People’s Republic near the village of Kruty where all of them were killed. Throughout the years, the true story of the battle was hidden from the view by the Soviet Government. Even today, Vladimir Putin the Russian Prime Minister is not happy about the Kruty Heroes Remembrance Day.

Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her supporters laid flowers honoring Kruty heroes.

Remembering the Kruty Heroes, Kyiv.

Tymoshenko’s investigation continues and journalists and a small number of supporters always wait for her in front of the Prosecutor General’s Office no matter if it is snowing, freezing or raining.

A supporter of Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister, holds a photograph ofTymoshenko in front of the Prosecutor Generals Office on January 18. Prosecutors launched criminal cases against Tymoshenko, accusing her of abuse of power by misspending government money when she was in power.

Opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko is surrounded by journalists and supporters in downtown Kiev on January 25, 2011 before being questioned by investigators. Mrs. Tymoshenko stands accused of misspending some $280 million in state funds while serving as prime minister in 2009. Tymoshenko denies all wrongdoing.

Ukraine has a long way to go. And it will not be easy. Democracy remained elusive, the global corruption survey shows that Ukraine has the highest level of corruption among the Newly Independent States.  The Russian language and culture dominates in many parts of Ukraine (many, like Prime Minister Putin do not think it is a real nation); and there is no abiding law and order.

Ukraine has been carved up and suffered the two biggest tyrants known to mankind – Hitler and Stalin – and the paradox is that an explosion which destroyed a bust of the Stalin on 31 December 2010 is classified as an act of terrorism, instead of vandalism! Millions of Ukrainians have been murdered in war and forced famines. Two decades into its existence, Ukrainian still struggle for survival and nationhood.