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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Maidan in Kyiv, Tahrir in Crimea

13 March, 2014 - 11:23

The revolution-born danger of a civil war has vanished in the face of an intervention. The 100-day-long steep turns of history have turned our heads, thwarted our plans, caused raptures and nausea. What has happened in a country on the fault line of two civilizations is too much contradictory and unclear to us and the entire world. A video clip with this thrilling scenario could comprise the seizure of the Bastille and the Romanovs’ palaces and the flight of Fulgencio Batista who left his gold-plated phones in the chambers. Also present here could be the Sudetenland Germans, the heroes of Westerplatte, the Munich Agreement, the Prague Spring, and Tahrir Square. Everything has been mixed up, parallels are being drawn, and familiar images are catching your eye. But, at the same time, the Ukrainian revolution differs from the French, German, Mexican, or Egyptian ones. Even if we are unable to realize the scale of changes and the motive forces, we are aware of an alternative.

Also unable to do so are centers that customarily decide the world’s destiny. It is not the UN, whose special envoy Robert Serry was barred from entering Ukrainian Crimea by Russian soldiers without insignia on their uniforms. It is not Kyiv, the inspirer of the events, where a drama is unfolding but its scriptwriters and directors are missing. Nor is it the G8, now in fact the G7, much less such bogus offices as CIS, EurAsEC, and GUAM. It was decided to try to resolve this conflict in France, the cradle of all revolutions, in the capital of which EU, US, and Russian foreign ministers met on the Ukraine agenda. The foreign minister of Ukraine was not let into the discussion room because Sergei Lavrov wished so. Therefore, there should be no illusions about what the officials agreed upon on the Seine’s banks. Nor should one think that only the people who gathered behind Elysee’s doors can shape Ukraine’s further destiny. The latter is in our own hands, no matter how romantic the hackneyed phrase about the role of people in history may sound.

The world’s public opinion is today on Ukraine’s side. But moral support does not mean full approval of all that has happened in the past 100 days. The Guardian observer Simon Jenkins made a very fitting comment on this matter: “Ukraine is fortunate in having a democratic parliament, representative of the whole nation. That institution will now be tested to the full. But, as in Egypt, the fact remains that a duly elected leader was toppled by a mob. That leader may have deserved all he got. He may have been corrupt, grotesque, and murderous, a puppet in the hands of Russia. But he still wore the threadbare tatters of electoral legitimacy, which the demonstrators did not… A crowd in a square is not some ritual of democratic purification. It is the most primitive human response to a threat. It suggests a collapse of political institutions, a failure of law and order, a usurping of party, association, and leadership. A crowd can blow the fuse of a weakened regime and plunge the state into darkness. It seldom turns on the light of democracy. Any upheaval can offer the hope of better times. But history is always a skeptic. Just a month ago another large crowd gathered in Tahrir Square, in an exercise in irony. It celebrated the army’s return to power after three years of chaos…” This is the opinion of not only a British journalist, but also of many experts in Europe, who support the aspiration of Ukrainians to fight tyranny but are afraid that the revolution may be slipping to the abyss of chaos.

Reestablishing the manageability of this country and its democratic institutions is more important today than the peninsula around which the knot of the East-West global-scale rivalry is more and more tightening. In reality, Crimea is just a shuttle, while the whole web is being woven around Ukraine in order to keep her back in the post-Soviet stables or put her out to European pastures. The more we look like an unorganized elements-prone mass, the greater is the risk to be left with what we had. We must change quickly and stop looking around in the hope that US aircraft-carriers of European sanctions will save us from a fraternal aggressor. And these changes are already in sight. We have managed to restore parliament and form a government which immediately came to grips with war and economic ruin. Public unity managed to stop Putin’s blitzkrieg in south-eastern Ukraine. The high morale of the army has warded off the escalation of violence. The civic responsibility of many informal leaders is activating constructive forces. No, we are by no means Maidan at-Tahrir (the Arabic name of Cairo’s main square). We are capable of creating a new type of peaceful revolution, and, had it not been for the Russian aggression and treachery of some steeped-in-corruption top officials, we would have done so without having victims.

Millions of the Ukrainians who are taking to the streets to take on local extremists and foreign instigators of unrest do not doubt this. We are on our own territory, under our own flags, and with our desire of changes. And if people in Simferopol have wrapped a Lenin statue with the Russian tricolor, it is further proof of the ruinous behavior of our eastern neighbor that wishes to stop Ukraine, history, and the continent’s development. The Russia-raised “Crimean sovereignty” today is sort of a compensation for the global defeat and a hurt pride of the Russian leadership. Tomorrow, a Moscow-made wall-breaking machine will also tear down the Kremlin palaces. Any new-order patterns based on lies, insinuations, and brute force lead to a catastrophe.

By Oleksandr PRYLYPKO
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