The Ukrainian government led by President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov is facing a third week of mass nationwide protests and demonstrations, initially sparked by the president’s decision not to sign an association agreement with the European Union, scheduled to take place 29 November. The rallies have rapidly grown in scope due to the brutality of the special police forces, who violently attacked peaceful protesters and journalists in Kyiv November 30 and again December 1 (read UCU Statement on Violent Suppression).
A new, younger generation of Ukrainians – beautifully, courageously, open-heartedly, and confidently has appeared on the public arena. This is the generation of Ukrainians who were born and grew up in independent Ukraine, those uninfected by the virus of Soviet totalitarianism. Most of them were only about 10 years old at the time of Orange Revolution and they are now leading their generation’s very own mega-scale “workshop” on human dignity and solidarity in Ukraine.
These young individuals are by far Ukraine’s greatest national resource, our veritable endowment for the future of the country. This is a treasure that we simply cannot allow to be destroyed or lost, either by tragic circumstances or by devastating despair.
UCU has invested almost two decades in the formation and education of this new generation and we now bear witness to the outstanding results of those efforts, which are visible on the both national and international levels. UCU students in Lviv were the first in the country to protest, ultimately triggering, inspiring, and leading the protest of millions in Ukraine.
The current situation in Ukraine remains very serious, tense, always dramatic, and very unpredictable as to the immediate outcomes. And yet, there’s a very distinct understanding among the UCU community that this turning point in Ukrainian history is a special gift – a blessing for Ukraine and for the millions of our citizens who are exercizing their freedom and service to others so selflessly, and whose lives will be changed forever for standing up in solidarity for their values, beliefs and their vision of Ukraine as a strong, prosperous, and moral nation.
Frightened by the solidarity, commitment, and courage of millions of its citizens, as well as the demonstration of support it has inspired worldwide, the Ukrainian government has declared its peaceful intentions and desire to hear the voice of the people and participate in a dialogue with them. Concurrently, however, the Ukrainian authorities have been taking an active offensive, not merely against the political opposition, activists, and journalists reporting on the events, but also against students – the initiators of this broad protest movement.
UCU is clearly high on the list of institutions the police and other authorities are pressuring. Police officers have already visited UCU and interrogated the Dean of the School of Humanities and a few of his colleagues in an attempt to collect information about the students who participated in the demonstrations. We have been informed that a few criminal cases have been opened against UCU students and professors. Some of our students are getting anonymous phone calls warning them not to continue their involvement with the demonstrations and insisting that they become “internet silent”. The machinery of intimidation and repression is in full gear.
Now, more than ever, we are in need of your solidarity and support. We appeal to you and ask that you disseminate information about the shameful state of affairs in Ukraine, the pressure on institutions of higher learning and their students, the violations of constitutional rights and democratic freedoms, the violent attacks against peaceful demonstrators and the mockery of the dignity of people who are only calling for the good and prosperity of their country .
The UCU leadership and our academic community remain fully confident that the magnitude of the protest, its peaceful and profoundly spiritual character, and the commitment of millions of Ukrainians to the values of a free and open, democratic society are irreversibly shaping the future of Ukraine right at this very moment.
We will be staying in touch with you throughout this turbulent time in Ukraine, sharing our views, thoughts, statements and inspirations. We would also like to share with you some articles written by leading experts on the Ukrainian situation and the prospects of our country.
Video address by Bishop Borys Gudziak https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjK62_mXiHo
Thank you very much for your continuous support and prayers!
The Ukrainian Institute is the London Affiliate of the Ukrainian Catholic University