Saturday, February 22, 2014

Revolution in Ukraine

The photographs from the very nice house of semi-deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych indicate more of a holiday atmosphere than a vicious revolutionary coup d'état, at least as far as the opening of that particular piece of expensive real estate to the public is concerned.  Thus far, visitors are behaving much more like refined tourists--taking photos of each other and their small children with cell phones and video cameras--than Winter Palace-looting hoodlums. 

I've been watching the Maidan Square livecam, but the time difference means little is occurring there during what are to me waking hours.  As I have been writing this post, an Orthodox priest has spoken a gospel message to a small crowd of rain-sprinkled listeners, and another man in jeans and a warm jacket is now reading inspirational poetry and talking about the current crisis, his breath coming out in cold puffs--I recognize most of the words, but only recall what half of them mean!  My language skills are rusting dreadfully.  There is frequent mention in the rhyming verses not only of the protesters' representing the honor of the Ukrainian people, the need for recognition of human rights as free people, but also of Jesus's salvation. Really cool stuff, even if the poetry's quality doesn't rise to the Taras Shevchenko level.

It's been seven years since I've been in Kiev, but it's weird looking down at the square and thinking, "Oh, the post office is over there, and the café where Dex and Kimberly and I had dinner a couple of times is over there...". 

I do like that the churches--Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant--are represented on the square's stage, as they were during the Orange Revolution almost a decade ago.  Off-square, I have learned that church members have been intent on caring for the wounded and have tried to prevent violence and looting during this breakdown of official order in the cities--criminals are not bound by political loyalties and are taking opportunities to pillage unpatrolled and defended areas. 

There are slimeballs out there on the fringes, I do not doubt, but unless I am greatly mistaken from my personal observations in the past and reading since, most of the Ukrainians want their country to Westernize, for their elections to be free and their politicians reliable, not suddenly kowtowing to Russian pressure.  I am glad that the protesters have not wholeheartedly embraced Yulia Tymoshenko, given her own Russian connection, but I am also pleased that she hasn't been completely rejected for this association.  I dearly hope that the European Union--particularly the Poles, who can historically commiserate with the Ukrainians--will not abandon their intensive diplomatic role in attempting to bring a peaceful, and democratic, conclusion to this dramatic confrontation between a muscular Moscow and the wobbly EEC. 

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