I’m writing to you as a former prisoner of conscience of the Brezhnev era. All other titles are rapidly becoming irrelevant against the backdrop of bloody Maidan. My entire life, I admired Western civilization as the realm of what is most valuable. Today I am close to paraphrasing Byron: “Treachery, thy name is Europe!” The depth of our bitterness is commensurate with the strength of our love for Europe.
If there is still anyone interested among the community of decision makers, I can answer the question posed in the headline.
First of all, stop “expressing deep concern.” All the protesters on Maidan have developed an allergy to that expression, which, under our circumstances, has lost all meaning, while the gangsters in the Ukrainian government are laughing at the helplessness of the EU.
Apply sanctions. Do not waste time looking for their Achilles heel–it is their wealth that is invested in your banks. Apply your own laws and put a stop to the money laundering. The Europe that we want to belong to would have never allowed for the absolute value of human life to diminish in favor of the absolute value of money.
Abolish visas for all the government thugs and their families. It is scandalous that ordinary Ukrainians leading ordinary lives have to submit practically their entire family trees while criminals who are responsible for murder, for “disappearances,” for fraud committed in the eyes of the entire world can enjoy practically free entry into Europe.
Don’t listen to the propaganda sirens of Yanukovych and Putin. Simply plug your ears with cotton. Be capable of decoding their lies, or they will decode your ability to defend yourselves.
Instead, listen to Ukrainian media, which is sacrificing the lives of its journalists to obtain the truth. Do not rely excessively on the information from your correspondents in other countries who visit Ukraine for a day or two. Hire the Ukrainians in your countries to translate for you the Ukrainian cry of pain. Send money for this immediately, without waiting for funds to be allocated in next year’s budget.
Visit a Ukrainian hospital and talk with the so-called “extremists” who want to “overthrow a legitimately elected government;” with those who “severely beat” the police officers and who “willfully” detonate explosives to cause injuries to themselves. Yes, the face of war is brutal. But, in going to Maidan, these people have repeated almost verbatim the words of British King George VI in his speech to the nation on 3 September 1939: “We have been forced into a conflict, for which we are called … to meet the challenge of a principle which, if it were to prevail, would be fatal to any civilized order in the world.”
Come out of your comfort zone! Just remember the enervated ancient Romans who failed to do so in time. Pleasing Putin will not bring you security. Delivering Ukraine into his hands means making world peace even more vulnerable. A Ukraine divided by force will not bring peace to the world any more than forcefully divided Poland and Germany did.
Finally, let us repeat in solidarity with King George VI and the Ukrainian people: “The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield; but we can only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God. If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then with God’s help, we shall prevail.”
Vice-rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, founder of Amnesty International Ukraine, and a founding member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group
Translated by Anna Mostovych
Edited by Robin Rohrback