I hesitated a bit with this as I do not write on political topics, but the recent developments in Ukraine are just too important to ignore. And who else can give an unbiased view on this topic other than the people living there. My classmate and a good friend, Stanislav Rubin, who is a Kiev resident agreed to share his views and I’m very thankful to him. Stanislav is head of legal department at his company in Kiev and witnessed the events first-hand. In his own words –
“If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.”
― Jack Kerouac
When my classmate Sam approached me with proposition to co-write an article within his blog, I already predicted what the topic will be about. Until recently, I tried to escape discussions related to politics and politicians, realizing that none is better. Surely, in the light of past and current developments I cannot but stay indifferent. Many lives have been lost during standoff and many Ukrainians are still losing lives because of political games. I’m deeply concerned with events taking place in my country and am distressed for its future. I wouldn’t like to paraphrase what was happening in Ukraine as these facts are explicitly covered by international mass media. Instead of I will give you a snapshot of some recent developments which I witnessed.
I was born in Crimea, but it`s been already seven years since I moved from Simferopol to Kiev. My parents are still living in Simferopol that is why I know a lot more about current situation in Crimea than what you would make out from headlines and internet articles. Recently Ukraine`s parliament adopted a law which acknowledged Crimea as a temporary occupied territory. The law significantly restricted economic activity within peninsula, limited movement of those who have Crimea`s registration and abridged general access to the region. These measures drastically complicated lives of people who have relatives and friends in that region. Air traffic between continent and Crimea is closed, therefore it possible to reach there only by car or train. The access to disputed territory is bounded with mandatory procedure to pass through so-called border controls of both Ukraine and Russia. Those who are traveling by car or train need to spend hours to go through passport control.
Political antagonism between Russia and Ukraine has gradually outgrown to the inter-ethnic hostility between people of two countries. At the recent spring ball organized by CEU, I accidentally met people from Ukraine. We didn’t realize at the beginning that we are representatives of the same country, but once we made ourselves known to each other and it became obvious, I switched to Russian language. Immediately I was asked if I am from Russia. From this question and our further conversation I realized how strained the relations between two until recently friendly nations have become. I heard many times and witnessed myself that because of different points of view on certain events and political preferences friends and even family members are fighting with each other.
At the same time politicians incited clashes among people within the country, Western and Eastern parts of Ukraine are in a state of the informational dissonance. News does not reflect the objective situation in various parts of the country, isolating people from reality and filling them with rage and hate. I cannot but mention that company I’m working for employs people from Russian, Eastern and Western parts of Ukraine and up to now I haven`t experienced even a trace of tension among us. I reckon regular citizens should never judge somebody according to the country of origin, should stay wise and tolerant to each other regardless of political vectors of their countries. I must admit it`s hard to stay cold minded and objective when propaganda machines are running all around. Moreover I know the cases when people influenced even for a short period by propaganda of TV news changed their views and opinions. My co-worker from Western Ukraine who ardently supported Euromaidan and knows what was happening there from inside out came back from a business trip from Moscow saying he started to believe on what Russian TV news is broadcasting.
It is worth mentioning that both countries use double standards when voicing a view of events taking place in different parts of Ukraine. Those who supported Euromaidan were treated by Russian Federation as criminals who in the end usurped the power, in contrast people who now occupied local authority premises in Eastern part of Ukraine are backed-up by Russian government. Similar strategy is used by Ukrainian authorities. So called Russian-activists are clearly supported by local population so far condemned by Ukrainian power.
I suppose all parties of conflict need to listen to each other and start comprehensive conversation. In perspective as all citizens of both countries I do believe in peaceful conflict resolution. Under any circumstances the power of weapon and force cannot be a tool of reasonable resolution. Governments of both countries need to put their best efforts to find compromise and let their people live in peace and unity.