UKRAINE'S DAY OF SHAME

Statement from AUGB's Governing Council
29.04.10


27 April 2010 – Ukraine’s day of shame

Ukrainians in the diaspora have always strived to uphold the good name of Ukraine. Through the dark days of Soviet rule, we defended the Ukrainian language, it’s history and traditions; we supported prisoners of conscience; we told the world about abuses of human rights; we supported Ukraine’s declaration of independence and the significant steps it took towards freedom and democracy. We may have been frustrated at the slow progress on measures to tackle crime, corruption and social issues, but significant steps were taken which were giving Ukraine it’s rightful position on the world political stage. And throughout this, we taught our children to be proud of their Ukrainian heritage.

 

What do we tell our children today? In one short day, the democratically elected Ukrainian Parliament ignored the Ukrainian constitution by voting to give away strategic Black Sea naval bases to Russia in return for cheaper gas supplies. We showed the world, not a maturing democratic process, but shameful scenes of scuffles and smoke bombs in Parliament, with one deputy provocatively draping himself in a Russian flag. Later the same day, President Yanukovych, in his first appearance at the Council of Europe, ignored the law of Ukraine on the Holodomor and denied that the Holodomor was an act of genocide. In one short day we saw a Parliament put itself above the constitution, and a President put himself above his own country’s law. A day of shame indeed.

And who gains from this? It’s not Ukrainian democracy, not Ukraine’s sovereignty and not Ukraine’s long-suffering people.

Who will uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty? More than 10,000 people demonstrated outside the Ukrainian Parliament against giving naval bases to Russia. But will opposition politicians finally put aside their petty personal differences and ambitions to unite against the risk of Ukraine becoming – again – a mere satellite? So far, there’s little consistent evidence of that kind of maturity and strength of purpose.

And who will promote the truth about Ukraine’s history? On 28 April, following years of pressure from the Polish Government, the Russian Government finally made public their archive on the Katyn massacre, in which Russia denied any involvement for decades. The parallel with the Holodomor is striking in terms of the denial, but who will press for the Holodomor archives in Moscow to be fully opened? Clearly not President Yanukovych.

The Association of Ukrainians will continue to do whatever it can to represent the views of Ukrainians in the diaspora, to promote our Ukrainian identity and heritage, and to support Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty. We will also support Ukraine’s efforts to create friendly and constructive relationships with other nations that will help further Ukrainian democracy and the interests of the Ukrainian people. But it is for the people of Ukraine and their democratically elected representatives to decide what friendship means and what they’re willing to pay for it. 27 April was the day that Ukrainian politicians and the Ukrainian President sold their self-respect and their integrity. Is that what Ukraine really wants?

 

AUGB Governing Council



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