Sunday, November 2, 2014
Now it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get to work strengthening the Ukrainian nation and building an independent, sovereign, democratic country that has the potential to be the envy of the world.
With two historic national elections in five months, the Ukrainian nation has clearly severed its chains to the Russian empire and demonstrated its sovereign Ukrainian national, pro-Euro-Atlantic, democratic, and market-oriented commitment.
And it all began in December last year with Maidan rallies, demonstration and revolution, and the toppling of the central Lenin monument in Kyiv.
Maidan must remain in the national consciousness for generations because of what it stands for but its reverberations have different meanings for everyone who hears the word. Maidan’s lessons must become the backbone of a new comprehensive national renaissance.
For the men and women of all ages, walks of life and most importantly regions of Ukraine that built the barricades that became synonymous with Maidan and led to a new beginning for Ukraine, the word became a foundry that forged a nation that Russia had tried to destroy or sent into the underground. It became a place where men and women were martyred and where Ukraine’s internal and external enemies showed their historical hatred for Ukrainians.
Maidan also became a classroom and laboratory for a young generation of Ukrainian voters, who were born after independence and were nurtured on the lessons of OUN-UPA and the first Maidan of the Orange Revolution. This stalwart, dedicated group – Gen Free – is destined to lead Ukraine out its doldrums and into a new life.
Maidan also reaffirmed for the nation that it is still capable of defending and fighting for its rights and national identity. Just as the OUN-UPA war of liberation against Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany disproved that Ukrainians are collaborators, Maidan proved that Ukrainians do not want to wither in the oppressive shadow of Putin’s Moscow.
Maidan asserted that in Ukraine, the Ukrainian nation is the supreme ruler.
Maidan provides a lesson for the new government of Ukraine. President Poroshenko, Prime Minister Yatseniuk and the newly elected members of the Verkhovna Rada have been given a mandate to run the country, nation and people under Maidan’s flag. The people have voiced their ultimatum that both of them collaborate for the good of the nation. Indecisiveness or, God forbid, renunciation will certainly mobilize them to build new Maidan barricades.
Recently, due to signs of perceived government vacillation, an ominous warning began rippling across Ukraine: “This is not why we stood on Maidan.” It should not be belittled.
An AFP article pointed out that veterans of the current war with Russia are especially bitter, watchful and threatening. “We’re going to give them half a year to show the country has somehow changed, that even if it’s hard, there’s light ahead,” Yuriy Bereza, Dnipro-1’s popular commander, said. Asked by the AFP reporter what would happen should that deadline pass, another paramilitary member at headquarters, a tall man in civilian clothing with a pistol strapped to his side, didn’t hesitate with his response: “A coup.”
Certainly, after overthrowing a domestic tyrant and holding its own against a global superpower, will a nation tolerate tarrying from its elected leaders?
Poroshenko and Yatseniuk, skilled, pro-Ukrainian political leaders, were authorized by the people’s votes to fulfill the nation’s aspirations, which so far are mutually aligned. They have the parliamentary votes to ensure that Ukraine will stay on the beam of national awareness and development – the goals for which the Maidan heroes sacrificed their lives.
All spheres of Ukrainian life must be included in this rebirth: finance and banking, commerce and industry, energy, agriculture, education and scholarship, science and medicine, legislative and legal, and especially, last but not least, the military.
Short-term, partisan goals should not outweigh national objectives. The people have demanded that corrupt, immoral, and anti-national politicians must not be allowed to usurp any level of government. Gratefully, there are signs that Poroshenko and Yatesniuk will follow through with this as has been confirmed by the recently adopted lustration law.
All mature, civilized democracies tolerate a certain amount of political squabbling and haggling but they must not be paramount. The parties that won last week must muster the farsighted political willpower to coalesce into a national alliance that will ensure Ukraine’s comprehensive survival and development over the next few decades.
At a news conference soon after the elections, Yatseniuk said he was taking the initiative in forming the new majority, and noted that it would be a partnership with Poroshenko. The President, for his part, wisely urged his partisan followers to support Yatseniuk for prime minister.
Finally, Maidan has special meaning for the present and future likes of Yanukovych and Putin. At its height, Maidan brought together some 2 million Ukrainians to Kyiv – Ukrainian and Russian-speaking Ukrainians from the Caucasus to Carpathian mountains – to evict a criminal dictator and Russian lackey. Maidan also showed Russia that Ukrainians will not be bullied into submission.
With the Russian war versus Ukraine still raging in eastern Ukraine and Russian threats to world peace and stability abounding, Kyiv must be steadfast in combatting Moscow and earnest in creating an international coalition to defeat Russia. The logical place to start this campaign is with the former captive nations that are fearing Russian wars on its territories.
Ukraine today enjoys unprecedented global support. Its leaders must continue to solidify this backing. Kyiv should demand that the economic sanctions be maintained until Russia understands that it has no other solution but to withdraw from Ukraine and submit to new internationally monitored non-aggression pacts – just like Germany and Japan did.
My colleague, Natalka Zubar, chair of Maidan Monitoring Information Center in Kyiv, observed that realistically it will be difficult to defeat Russia.
“Even if the leadership of Russian Federation changes for whatever reason (which is highly unlikely), the international and domestic policy of Russian Federation will not change much. Citizens of Russian Federation have no skills to fight or stand against the government and will not learn how to do it in just 30 months. Ukrainians have been learning this art for 23 years, or perhaps more than 300 years, depending the historic perspective one adopts,” she wrote.
She’s right – the current generation of Russians has not been able to gather more than several tens of thousands of anti-Putin demonstrators for the latest protests.
Opining about Ukraine’s future after last Sunday’s elections, pundits took note of Ukraine’s political and national transformation from a colony to a sovereign country dedicated to seizing the moment and becoming a worthwhile member of the European and global community. They noted that fulfilling this mission will take a great deal of work on the part of the government and people. They also pointed out that Ukraine deserves and needs global support in this endeavor.
“We have the chance to build the new country, friendly for its inhabitants, interesting for the world, open for friends and safeguarded against enemies. I know Ukraine will make a great use of this chance; the open question is when exactly? The systemic transformations should be implemented quickly; otherwise, reforms could take decades. Ukraine is a part of information society and the changes in human minds, which had always been the most integral part of transformations, could be implemented quickly. What is needed for such changes is the will and skills of considerable numbers of citizens to work for such changes consciously and consistently,” observed Zubar.
“Civic and patriotic education and enlightenment of all people living in Ukraine, quick teaching of the critical thinking skills should become the priority of active citizens. The war is led not only in Donetsk airport or block posts, but in the minds of people is well. We should win this war too. The next 30 months for Ukraine will be extremely interesting and difficult. We currently have a chance we cannot miss to transform the country.”
And throughout, remember Maidan.