Saturday, January 15, 2005

New Year's Eve, Kiev

From an account written by a former PhD student, visiting Ukraine after a long absence.

"Exactly at midnight the best male voice of Ukraine, Olexandr Ponomariov, fired 'Sche ne vmerla Ukraina'. I heard several tens of thousands singing the Ukrainian Anthem in Lviv in 91. But not 1.5 mln! I've seen tears in many eyes. The tears of success that they stood up to a government machine and they overcame it.

Ukraine's glory and freedom have not yet perished, We shall still see the fortune smile for us...

I saw proud people, I saw happy people, I saw the emergence of the Ukrainian nation. It was not the nation of beggars, a herd of timid sheep, it was self-assertive people, full of optimism.

...About 1:30am we started moving down Khreschatyk among piles of champaign bottles. As we kept walking along miles of tents, which housed thousands of protestors, one could read names of cities, towns and villages. And the tune "Razom nas bahato -- nas ne podolaty" ("Together we are many, we can't be defeated") kept on reverberating in our heads..."

This Times article describes how close the protests came to eliciting a Soviet-style crackdown, which was averted by the actions of top security officers.


Anonymous said...

Let us hope the hopes of the people are realized soon. It seems the country is very divided, no clear-cut mandate. Without sensible economic policies (no "shock therapy" please!), it might not look good in a decade from now. Talk of EU membership should definitely help, I think (I wonder how Georgia is doing lately...).

I do not know how all this is playing in Russia, both govt. and population. I think there are almost 30% Russians living in Ukraine.


Anonymous said...

How Top Spies in Ukraine Changed the Nation's Path

KIEV, Ukraine - As protests here against a rigged presidential election overwhelmed the capital last fall, an alarm sounded at Interior Ministry bases outside the city. It was just after 10 p.m. on Nov. 28.

More than 10,000 troops scrambled toward trucks. Most had helmets, shields and clubs. Three thousand carried guns. Many wore black masks. Within 45 minutes, according to their commander, Lt. Gen. Sergei Popkov, they had distributed ammunition and tear gas and were rushing out the gates.

Kiev was tilting toward a terrible clash, a Soviet-style crackdown that could have brought civil war. And then, inside Ukraine's clandestine security apparatus, strange events began to unfold.

While wet snow fell on the rally in Independence Square, an undercover colonel from the Security Service of Ukraine, or S.B.U., moved among the protesters' tents. He represented the successor agency to the K.G.B., but his mission, he said, was not against the protesters. It was to thwart the mobilizing troops. He warned opposition leaders that a crackdown was afoot.

Simultaneously, senior intelligence officials were madly working their secure telephones, in one instance cooperating with an army general to persuade the Interior Ministry to turn back....


Anonymous said...

Quite a remarkable story, so hopefully peaceful.


Anonymous said...

Ukraine: Oil politics and a mockery of democracy
By William Engdahl

The results of the third round of elections in Ukraine in which Viktor Yushchenko was proclaimed the final winner, far from being grounds for jubilation in Ukraine and beyond, ought to give concern for the future of Ukraine to many.

The recent battle over the election for president to succeed the pro-Moscow Leonid Kuchma in Ukraine was more complex than the general Western media accounts suggest. Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and George W Bush are engaged in high stakes geopolitical power plays. Both sides in Ukraine have evidently engaged in widespread vote fraud. The Western media chose to report only one side, however. Case in point: a non-governmental organization, the British Helsinki Human Rights Group, reported it found more vote irregularities on the side of the opposition Yushchenko in the contested November vote, than from the pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovych. Yet the media reported as if fraud only took place on the side of the pro-Moscow candidate.

The Kuchma regime was indeed anti-democratic, and no model for human rights, one factor which feeds an opposition movement. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, economic conditions for most Ukrainians have been beyond deplorable, providing fertile ground for any opposition to promise better times. Yet the deeper issue is Eurasian geopolitical control, an issue little understood in the West.

Anonymous said...

Kiev is the most beautiful city in Ukraine

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