Speech of Marta Barandiy at the event on Ukraine organised by Women in Black Leuven
Let me introduce myself in short: I am a Ukrainian, born in Lviv (Western Ukraine), holding Ukrainian Master’s degree and German Ph.D. degree in International law.
But in I will try to share with you the historical reasons of the events in Ukraine not from the legal point of view but from the point of view of the mentality.
Therefore I will not touch upon the wars but upon the struggle against oppressive regime of Soviet Union. Till 1991 tens of millions of Ukrainians had been tortured and killed because they dared to raise their voice against dictatorship. I mean artists, writers, scholars, but I also mean ordinary people. And here I have to mention the unprecedented peacetime catastrophe in the middle of Europe – the man-made hunger in 1933 where more than four Million of people died in less than one year.
1991 Soviet Union broke up. Everything what belonged to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic started to be privatized by people who had been close to the Soviet leaders before as they knew the “insider’s” information. Factories and property of the state they bought for small money, and that is how they became rich overnight. Richness meant power, so they came to power and legalized themselves as authorities.
But nevertheless these authorities wanted to gain recognition of the world. So they declared peaceful international relations and democratization. In 1994 Ukraine gave up nuclear power, 1995 it became member of Council of Europe and thus committed itself to the protection of human rights, and finally 1998 Ukrainian authorities declared European integration. But on practice they did not want this integration as those “in power” felt comfortable. They had never let new generations come into power: nor to parliament nor to government.
As a consequence of merely declarations for European integration two parallel realities came to existence. One reality – the one of young people who were from now on taught to think in a European way, they studied in Europe, traveled, learned western values. Ukrainian government chose integration in the field of education because it was one of less vulnerable fields for such integration and could be used to show to the whole world “serious intention for democratization”. And yet there was another reality – the one of Ukrainian authorities that never even thought of introducing real European standards.
Clash of these two realities resulted in Orange Revolution in 2004. The pro-Ukrainian president came to power but he was not able to manage his team in a proper way. He did not fulfill his promise to introduce changes. People got disappointed. Corruption grew.
On this background chances of Victor Yanukovich to become a new president were very high. He promised to bring Ukraine to European Union. People believed this beautiful words. But when he came to power in 2010 first thing he did – made sure that his opponent, another charismatic leader – Yulia Tymoshenko was imprisoned. Unfortunately, it was not yet an alarm to people to pay attention to the methods of dictatorship.
Even the level of corruption that was high as never before was not an alarm because people got used that they could buy anybody: teachers, doctors, judges etc.
Do you imagine to sell the whole property to pay to doctors under table? Do you imagine to have the whole justice bought?
People wanted to put an end to it but there was no pushing elements.
Actually, people were waiting for Association Agreement with the European Union as for a chance to put external control over this corruption mechanisms.
And when the association agreement was so near Yanukovich broke his promise which he used in his election campaign and refused to sign an agreement.
This was the pushing element that was missing.
Here young people and students wanted explanation. They came out on the streets. They had been standing there for three months, sometimes in -25° C. In three months the president or the prime minister not even once came on the stage to people to explain himself. But people were stubborn. Note: they did not have weapons ! They just wanted to put control over the government. But instead the bloody cinema was shown in front of the whole world. You know, children of age under ten years old are forbidden to see the films with the scenes of blood which you could follow live on the main square of the largest European country in times of peace. As a result Yanukovich ran away with one year budget of Ukraine to Russia. And two days after the “green man” started to occupy the territory of Ukraine. This occupation has lasted till now. And Ukraine keeps on fighting for its dignity and sovereignty. And has right to do so.
All the rest is propaganda. This propaganda is incredibly dangerous , as it has no geographical borders nor it is limited by law. For you it is an alarm, and if you do not listen to it, you will most probably bear the consequences in nearer or further future.
Do you feel safe? But you are not.
What can you do to protect yourself?
Firstly, do not listen to propaganda. Secondly, inform yourself well. And thirdly, defend pro-Ukrainian Ukraine.
Prosperous and stable Ukraine will safe you and your homes from big trouble of political ambitions of the biggest country in the world because TOGETHER WE ARE POWER !