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24 October, 2012

Ukraine — it’s somewhere in Europe... but where, exactly?

It is impossible to say that Europe gave up on Ukraine - then or now. However, there is no other option for society, but to rid itself of the oppression inflicted by its own elite

It is easy to recall the myriad of cowardice of the West towards the eastern Europe. When the state of emergency was announced in Poland in 1981, we remember very well the words of the then French Minister of Foreign Affairs “We can do nothing. And we shall do nothing”, -it’s became a classic one. The fast recognition of the legitimacy of the Moscow putsch ten years later only continued this tradition. Not to mention the coming to power in the Kremlin of Vladimir Putin, whom many welcomed as the young leader, capable of real democratic transformations

Conflicting feelings can also be added, something that could have been determined as a lack of insight: the wish not to annoy the big Russian brother, fear of disorder on Europe’s doorstep and its consequences – a fundamental crash of the entire system.

However, for all those who are so taken with the “Polish wonder”, it would be worth recalling, that eight years passed between the state revolt in 1981 and the first semi-democratic elections, filled with imprisonment, censorship and repression. And only a small group of enthusiasts in the West insistently criticized and condemned that, which was taking place in the country, often called, paraphrasing the writer Alfred Jarry, “in Poland – in other words, nowhere”. Indeed, Poland was helped, modernly equipped for resistance supported by a population refusing to give up. . But on the diplomatic level – round tables and  arm wrestling with the authorities were a matter of that little group, not governments.

At the risk of angering our Ukrainian friends, it is impossible to say that Europe gave up on Ukraine - then or nowIt is worth reminding people, that without intervention and European mediation in 2004, there would never have been a third round of the presidential election – the only such precedent in the history of Europe. Under pressure from Moscow, Viktor Yanukovych would have been declared the winner and the national revolution could have drowned in rivers of blood.

Later, a lot of unpleasantness occurred in this part of the world, both in society and in politics. Is it fair to blame Europe for this? It was attentive and soon became disenchanted, just like Ukrainian society, but it continued to observe election after election, which more or less appeared to reflect the will of the Ukrainian people. That which is known as the rotation of the elite in the West, did indeed take place, but at the cost of the imprisonment of many leaders from the previous government. The electoral alternative transformed into a criminal one, raising doubts about the entire future of democracy in Ukraine.

It is true that sanctions lead to the isolation of the country, which have twofold consequences: they can cause a fatal compromise with a Union, other than the European Union, which is called a Customs or Eurasian Union – this does not change its imperial sense. But the participants of the conflict have also been clearly defined today; on the one hand — a corrupt government, which has no idea of where it is heading, and on the other — Ukrainian society, which is the victim of this government.

There are also other factors, which offset a gloomy prospect. If, in 2000, the Putin regime was alluring to some in the West, today, the situation is quite different. Protests in recent months in Russia, numerous documents demonstrating the corruption and criminality of this regime, the bribability of its judicial proceedings, the Khodorkovsky and Pussy Riot cases, the murders of journalists - a thousand and one signs indicating that the Russian regime is becoming less and less attractive in the eyes of the West and, what is important, it appears to be a threat to the interests of the West. Does the imitation of the “Russian World”, executed by Ukraine, appear more alluring?

It is not worth underestimating one more point: Ukraine is no longer located “nowhere”. The breath of fresh air, brought by the Euro-2012 championship, put the country in the spotlight,  

as was the case during the Orange Revolution. It may seem strange to put a football competition and a powerful national revolution in the same category. We must recognize that the knowledge of the other sometimes lead through unpredictable paths.

This is a real paradox: The Council of Europe is pointing its finger at Kyiv, a good few ceremonies are blocked on the part of the leaders of European countries, but in the meantime, questions began to be raised by western guests who came for the competition, each of which, looked for explanations, any way he/she could: what kind of regime is in power, why have democratic transformations been suspended? Numerous articles were published, which attempted to explain and tell about this little-known country called Ukraine, if one does not take into account several clichés, perceived from the times of the Orange Revolution.  After Euro-2012, Ukraine emerged from this grey zone, which was its worst sanction: a zone of total ignorance, in addition to a certain disrespect and the imprint of “Great Russia”, which it carried until then.

In the hurricane of sanctions, Ukrainian society takes heavy blows, which it does not deserve, and which in turn only strengthens its doubts in its own power. Consequently — such an understandable cry: we have been given up and left! Beyond that, revolutions of all colours and ethnicities have demonstrated the following: there is no other option for society, other than to use its own means to rid itself of the oppression inflicted by its own elite. It is difficult to say this so frankly. But between the conventionality of Real-politic and sympathetic but impotent sympathy, there is no other recourse.

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