Ukrainians living in the diaspora could be forgiven for not knowing which leg to stand on with regard to Ukraine at present.  On the one hand everyone has been and is keen to support the country of their roots, but on the other hand, there is utter dismay at the political infighting of the "opposition" and the Soviet style politics proferred by the present regime. 

All is seemingly well according to President Yanukovych and his government.  Human Rights?  Couldn't be better!  Free media?  Absolutely (if you discount the "spin" and who owns what).  In fact, one could be forgiven for imagining that at last, things are how they should be (just like they used to be in Soviet times).  Complete freedom and democracy... no less than we are all comfortably accustomed to in the West!  If only...!!!

Many years ago Harold Wilson uttered the now immortal words:  "a week is a long time in politics".

So consider this.  15 months ago - or 65 weeks ago - the governing authorities of Ukraine were in the throes of discussing continued missile defense cooperation with the US.  A long time ago indeed if you read the cable sent from the US Embassy in Kyiv to Washington about the US-Ukraine non-proliferation meetings held on 23-24 September 2009!

Today Ukraine chooses to side with countries that have a less than acceptable appreciation of Human Rights principles and no longer views the expansionist desires of a northerly neighbour as a threat. 

It pays lip service to the EU to receive benefits in kind (try as we may, it is hard to see how Ukraine's focus is the same as that of the EU: "the establishment of the rule of law and support of democratic trends of development of the Ukrainian society") and from where we are sitting at least (London), it looks like the country is digging itself into an ever-deepening hole to demonstrate that Ukraine is a country far removed from the one whose freedom, democracy and independence Poland was so gallantly prepared to defend two years ago.

Taras Shevchenko's poem "In the Fortress", written in 1847, comes to mind, translated so eloquently by the much missed Vera Rich:

shevchenko.jpgIt does not touch me, not a whit,
If I live in Ukraine or no,
If men recall me, or forget,
Lost as I am, in foreign snow, -
Touches me not the slightest whit....

But it does touch me deep if knaves,
Evil rogues lull our Ukraine
Asleep, and only in the flames
Let her, all plundered, wake again…
That touches me with deepest pain.

I should just add... that the latter touches us all, indeed, with the deepest pain.  We must not rest still.


Ukrayinska Dumka


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