Sunday, February 23, 2014

Euromaidan not totally victorious yet

Euromaidans in many cities around Ukraine are celebrating a victory.Yesterday brought uplifting news that Yanukovych was impeached and that a more level headed Parliament was working. However, the above video suggests to me that the fight for Ukrainian freedom may not yet be over. The maidan in Kerch, Crimea was attacked by pro-Russian separatists yesterday suggesting that not everyone is in favor of a liberal democratic Ukraine.

During the playing of the Ukrainian national anthem at the maidan in Kerch a crowd throws things at the people at the podium, hitting one woman in the face. People then trash the area and throw the Ukrainian flag to the ground calling the activists fascists. The anti-Ukrainian mob then chases a man down the street and attacks him, kicking him in the head and face. They then celebrate victory, raising the Russian flag while burning an American one amidst chants of "Russia!"

One positive thing I see is that police defend the maidan activists from the angry mob. It's almost strange seeing police actually defending Ukrainian patriots. Nice to see that they understand the responsibilities that come along with their jobs. Hopefully, we'll see more and not less of this in the future (Pretty pathetic I actually have to say that, huh?).

I don't know what to say about this video other than my realization how backwards some parts of Ukraine are. The people calling the maidan activists fascists seem antiquated, more like subjects of a Stalinist Soviet Union rather than modern, enlightened citizens of an independent Ukraine.

Although secession from Ukraine is unconstitutional, if people in Kerch and other areas of Ukraine want to leave and become part of Russia or form their own country and remain in a state of post-Soviet limbo I think they should be allowed to. Too many people have died and been maimed and tortured in the name of improving our country. It's not worth it anymore. If these people want to go, then they should be allowed to. Let the rest of us live in the kind of country we want to have.


  1. Agreed. There needs to be some sort of resolution to this instead of the same dance over and over again. Either separation or exodus somehow or the population in these areas
    needs to become more diluted/integrated.

    In addition to the massive amounts of things that need to be fixed already, this is something the new government needs to work on.

  2. Since I wrote this post I've noticed that the Crimean Tartars (among others) have been taking a stand against these separatists. I think I've reconsidered my position. I wanted to address it in the next post, but I'll do it here.

    It seems that enough people in Crimea are against leaving Ukraine, so secession would be unfair to them. The Tartars specifically fear Russian rule because they were almost exterminated by genocide during Soviet times. I'm sympathetic to them and cannot advocate for them to leave if they don't want to.

    I think the best solution is to build a stronger Ukraine that everyone wants to be a part of. This is possible. It really is. Watching the Maidan tonight I was so impressed by all the brilliant people there are out making a difference. They just need to be given a chance to participate in civic life.

    As you say, Christine, we can't keep repeating this same dance over and over again.

    1. Gosh, I hope you do write a post to address the possibilities for multiculturalism/harmonious living and the potential of Ukraine should people actually have the opportunity to engage in civic life.

      The Tartars, yes, were hammered during Soviet rule, so there would be more of an affinity to other minorities who had suffered Russification and exile and so on. Crimea is their home territory. I'm glad that I had a chance to visit it before all this madness.

      I've been thinking about the territories of Ukraine which are Russian ethnic or language-majority. So very different from Lviv and surroundings. Like a different planet really. Ukrainianisation is not the answer either. You can't force people to convert in one day. Some sort of outreach solution would be good in addition to various incentives and a lessening of Russian-language supports perhaps. Just brainstorming here. Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

      Let us see.

    2. You might find this ethnolinguistic map of Ukraine just after World War II of interest:

      Ethnic Ukrainians occupy a great majority of modern day Ukraine and spill over into many neighboring countries as well. I've read that there are Ukrainian settlements deep in Russia and Kazakhstan, and this map confrrims that. Also, I believe the peninsula of Ukrainians between Poland and Slovakia is Lemkivshchyna. The Lemkos are a cultural group of Ukrainians. There are many such groups. My grandfather, for example, was a Hutsl. Crimea, of course, is very diverse (and note the large amount of native Ukrainian speakers there).

      You may also like this video: It is the Crimean Tartars singing the Ukrainian national anthem in their own language. Pretty neat!

      When were you in Ukraine? What were your experiences like?

    3. Also, Yulia and I are big supporters of the Ukrainian language, but we really support diversity as well. Our dream is to have an international eco-village of sorts.

  3. Came across this and thought I'd pass it along to you:

    Mychailo Wynnyckyj:Ukraine needs your help like never before: call your Congressional Representatives and Senators; make sure they understand that their voters demand a strong response from the US government!
    I met with Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird in Kyiv tonight. His visit is primarily a symbolic gesture of support for the new Ukraine - and as such is very much appreciated. Thank you Minister Baird for paying your respects on behalf of Canada to the fallen at Maidan today. Thank you also for making it very clear that Canada's international role with respect to the (suspected) Russian invasion of Crimea will be limited to diplomatic condemnation - Canada simply doesn't have the military force to counter Russia. Canada stands firmly with the Ukrainian people, but as Minister Baird made clear, if we are talking about protecting Ukrainian sovereignty with military means, it the US that must take the lead.
    To be honest, my conversation with Minister Baird tonight depressed me - until I got home and turned on CNN. It would seem that President Obama has just taken a strong stand against Putin, and this is to be commended. I am still doubtful that we will ever see NATO boots on the ground here, but Obama's statement was strong enough to give some hope that support for Ukraine's territorial integrity may yet be forthcoming.
    I appeal now to the Ukrainian diaspora in the US!!! Ukraine needs your help like never before: call your Congressional Representatives and Senators; make sure they understand that their voters demand a strong response from the US government! The Ukrainian revolution will only be successful if Ukrainians are allowed to rebuild their country without fear of external attack. Right now, we seem to have armed Russian troops operating freely on the sovereign territory of Ukraine. That is unacceptable, and the international community (led by the United States) needs to respond.
    Please help!

  4. Thank you for these. Both the map and the video are very cool.

    I was there in about 1999 or so. I spent some time in Halycina, Karpaty, Kyiv, and Krim. I found it to be both heaven and hell in massive juxtaposition. Experiences with ordinary people generally were delightful, sometimes odd. Getting things done, even things that should be pretty simple, was often far more difficult than it should have been. It is often not easy to be a foreigner there even though I speak the language. It is also not easy to see how difficult life is for many people who deserve better. Still I'd like to go back.

  5. Oy.

  6. If international community offers only lip service, have most people stockpiled food, medical supplies, and taken precautions to protect themselves from effects of a devalued currency, or are these irrational concerns?

  7. People in Ukraine tend to stockpile food no matter the circumstances. They ferment and can food when they can and buy in bulk. There's a spectrum, of course. People in the countryside are most independent, while people in the city are most vulnerable. As for medical supplies, we're not sure. Many people save money in US dollars, so they may not be affected as much.

    We should say that here in Lviv we feel distant from the action of the Russian army. If they actually came here, we're not sure what they would want. Western Ukraine isn't so much anti-Russian as they are pro-Ukrainian, but either way a full on invasion would mean heavy resistance around here. The lack of reason for the Russians to occupy western Ukraine and the independent minded local population will probably yield little action. Though we could be wrong. We never would have thought Putin would be willing to invade any part of Ukraine, so all bets are off.

  8. I am very interested in what is really happening in Ukraine. People in my country who warned of Russian epansion were demonized by state media. Thank you very much for your response.