Bilak: When & why everything changed

From Daniel Bilak’s “On the Maidan: The Birth of a Real Ukrainian Civil Society.” Bilak is a Canadian international lawyer based in Kiev and a former UNDP senior governance advisor to the Government of Ukraine.

“Unlike those on the Maidan, no one is prepared to die for the regime of Viktor Yanukovych regime. There will not be a civil war; claims to the contrary are attempts by eastern and Crimean political and economic elites to manipulate the situation to preserve their wealth and local feudal power. Most Ukrainians see this as a war between a dictatorial president and his people. [. . .]

“Only 2 per cent of the 20 million workers, pensioners, teachers, doctors and other public workers shackled to outdated one-company towns in these parts of Ukraine [the eastern industrial heartland and Crimea] have visited Europe. They have been fed a steady diet of Russian television and Soviet mythology glorifying the “Great Patriotic War”, vilifying American imperialism and castigating Western Ukrainian “fascist bourgeois nationalism.” [. . .]

“In this context, state, oligarch-owned and Russian television has effectively demonized the Maidan as a U.S.-EU-sponsored plot supported by western Ukraine to destabilze the peace and harmony of the country. Because they were paid to stand at demonstrations in favour of the regime, easterners were quite cynical regarding arguments that no one was paying the protesters. That changed when people on the Maidan started dying in mass numbers this week. [. . .]

“Another Soviet-era myth designed to divide Ukrainians, that of the eternal brotherhood of the Russian and Ukrainian people, has also been debunked. There is no serious movement anywhere in the country to unite Ukraine with Russia, beyond the rants of individual separatist politicians from both countries. [. . .]

“Instead, people rely on their own efforts – new organizations, TV channels, educational and health units and even local self-government bodies have spread throughout the country. Indeed, a journalist from Donetsk, the ruling party’s power base, noted that the Maidan is just as important for those who are against it as those who support it; as the institutions of the past crumble, the Maidan’s aims of freedom, self-reliance, self-governance, respect, dignity, and justice are a compelling counter-narrative to the sterile myths of the Soviet past – few people anywhere in the country see a future tied to Russia.”

The whole article can be read here.


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