: "Ukraine's bitter decade".
додано: 27-08-2001 // // URL: http://maidan.org.ua/static/mai/998939321.html
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When Ukraine's parliament declared independence from the crumbling Soviet Union on Aug. 24, 1991 - 10 years ago tomorrow -- patriots in the streets of Kiev embraced for joy. "Slava Ukraini," they said. Glory to Ukraine.
After 70 years under the thumb of Soviet communism and millions of deaths from man-made famine and political terror, Ukraine was finally breaking free. After centuries of domination by others - Poles, Lithuanians, Austro-Hungarians, Russians -- Ukrainians were at last to be masters of their own fate. It was a glorious day for Ukrainians all over the world.
How long ago that seems now. After a decade of independence, Ukrainians find themselves as miserable in many ways as they were in Soviet times. The economy has shrunk to half its pre-independence size.
Public services are in a shambles. Greedy tycoons and corrupt politicians rake off the profits of one of the few money-making industries: energy.
Most politicians are considered little more than criminals, an impression that gained credence this year when secretly recorded tapes showed the country's president, Leonid Kuchma, telling aides to get rid of a troublesome journalist. The man's headless corpse was later found in a shallow grave. Mr. Kuchma claims that the tapes are fakes and that he had nothing to do with the killing, but opponents don't believe him.
The terrible coal-mine accident in Donetsk this week seemed to symbolize the sad state of the nation.
Instead of standing tall, Ukraine is staggering like an exhausted miner through the gloom, courting disaster with every step.
Ukraine's plight is a disappointment not just for Ukrainians but for the whole Western world. With more than 50 million people, Ukraine is the biggest country in Eastern Europe after Russia. When it became independent, Western leaders hoped it would become a pillar of democracy and prosperity in a troubled region, a stable neighbour for the European Union and an example to Russia of how a progressive country should act. Now things are so bad that the United States and other countries are moving to cool relations and limit aid.
That is wise. Ukraine's leaders need to know that there are consequences for their mismanagement and thievery. They need to know, as well, that Ukrainians abroad will not support them blindly if they continue to act as they have. But it would be a mistake to give up on Ukraine altogether, for there are glimmers of hope among the ruins.
The economy has bounced back a bit, reaching a growth rate of 10 per cent a year by official reckoning.
A new prime minister, Anatoly Kinakh, talks boldly of consolidating democracy, speeding market reforms and respecting human rights. The opposition, though still weak, managed to stage the biggest ever anti-government demonstrations earlier this year.
Despite all the discouraging news out of Ukraine, it is useful to remember that it could have been much worse. A civil war could have broken out over the fate of the country's Russian minority. Moscow and Kiev could have fallen to fighting over who owned the Black Sea fleet or who controlled the Soviet nuclear arsenal.
Ukraine is a proud country and Ukrainians are a gifted people, as their success as immigrants in other countries has shown. But if independent Ukraine is to fulfill the soaring hopes of Aug, 24, 1991, it needs root-and-branch reform. That will come about only if Ukrainians themselves demand it.
додано: 27-08-2001 // URL: http://maidan.org.ua/static/mai/998939321.html
Версія до друку // Редагувати //
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