Today, during peaceful mass protest, as never before, the Ukrainians need the position and experience of our moral authorities and high intellectuals. How will the Euromaidan finish? How to avoid blood? Won’t the opposition waste the wild energy of protest? This is what we talked about with the contributor and expert of The Day, leader of the riot in Norilsk that happened in GULAG camps in 1953 Yevhen HRYTSIAK. His experience of armless resistance to the dictatorship that resulted in dismantling of GULAG and beginning of the dissidents’ movement inspires today the participants of the protest action in Maidan.
“Today Euromaidan reminds me of our riot in Norilsk. I remember that in Karaganda I was offered to lead the all-GULAG strike. Then I said that it was impossible to do it at once and suggested organizing a strike in one particular zone. I wanted to show that it was possible to resist peacefully, without arms. I expected a chain reaction… Fortunately, it happened so. The strikes started in all camps on the Soviet Union: first in Norilsk, then in Vorkuta and Kengir. I am very pleased that chain reaction of freedom has reached Kyiv. Finally! Today’s Euromaidan is this non-violent method of pressure, a method of civil disobedience. Believe me, any dictatorship is unable to overcome this force. Never. I know it. I am extremely happy that people went into the streets, that they are standing and they believe. What Berkut fighters did with the students is an atrocity. It is a kind of provocation against their nation. A provocation to a physical revenge. It is the top of lawlessness and insolence. Berkut should have been dismissed a long time ago.”
What would you advise to the Ukrainians who have come to Euromaidan?
“Patience. Morally I am there, with those students and young people. You know, once The Day wrote that I measure all the politicians with the same yardstick as Gandhi. It is true! Gandhi had a terrible life, but he did not give up. He was going to the peaceful victory. This is what we need. We need to hold on but do it decently. Not to react to any provocations, in particular, from law-enforcement agencies.”
The opposition has made a range of demands to the government, in particular, to dissolve the government and hold the presidential and parliamentary elections…
“I will tell our opposition: nothing happens at once. They have to act step by step. They have to objectively estimate their forces. We have seen the power of our people, what will the opposition leaders say? First of all, they have to require from the government something they are able to achieve. For a start, to declare a minimum plan and aspire to realize it. If they feel that they have no power to dramatically change the situation in some area, they will have to honestly say about it. They should not demand everything at once as, if they do not achieve it, they will demonstrate their weakness. We have to steadily approach our aim. Our opposition politicians have to learn to play chess and for this they will need to predict their opponents’ steps. If a politician cannot objectively estimate the consequences of their steps, they will lose. The counter strike might be extremely strong.
“I believe that Maidan will lead to positive changes. Moreover, I know that Euromaidan has already changed the country. Believe me, such energy efforts of the whole nations do not disappear without a trace.”