Appeal of former political prisoner to the Dutch population: vote “yes”!

Semyon Gluzman in 1989. Courtesy photo

Semyon Gluzman in 1989. Courtesy photo 

2016/02/16 • Op-ed

Article by: Semyon Gluzman

At the age of twenty-five I became a prisoner in a KGB prison. A Soviet judge found me then, in 1972, to be a dangerous criminal of the State, and sent me for seven years to a camp with strict regime and three years of exile in Siberia. But in fact I was guilty of only one thing – I wanted to be able to say freely what I wanted. I wanted to be free to say and read what is accepted in any civilized country, but was considered “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda’ in the Soviet Union.

In Soviet camps there were hundreds of similar prisoners, who all wanted to be free to say, read and write whatever they saw fit. Unfortunately many of these wonderful people are no longer with us. I am also not so young anymore; soon I will turn seventy. In a new country, independent Ukraine, I got what I dreamed of. Here freedom of speech is a reality. Slowly but surely my country acquires, sometimes with torturous difficulty, the qualities of a European country.

At this moment a war rages in my country. At any cost the Russian dictator Putin wants to prevent us, Ukrainians, to live as Europeans. As a former KGB officer he considers freedom of speech to be a dangerous infectious disease. He is afraid that the Russian people will follow suit and will want to live in a country according to European norms and values; that is, without him. At this moment, fear reigns in Russia and dissidents are persecuted as before.

My country is currently at war with Vladimir Putin. Only with him and his totalitarian environment. We are not at war with the Russian intelligentsia, the Russian people and Russian culture. Where possible we defend the miracle of free speech to which we became accustomed, the ability to think freely and critically. We, citizens of Ukraine, speak two languages fluently, Ukrainian and Russian. We go to churches of different dominations, or we don’t go to church at all. We are free! And we want to acquire without any exception those European values that you, Dutchmen, have been given at birth.

We dream to be full-fledged Europeans. Help us to do so. Vote during the upcoming referendum “yes”.

Dr. Semyon Gluzman
Psychiatrist, former political prisoner (1972-1982)
Kyiv, February 2016

 

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  • Patrick

    I will absolutely vote “yes” in the referendum but I am afraid there will be a “no”.
    Despite the fact that The Netherlands has been a democracy for generations, the atmosphere in my country is explosive.

    The average wealth in my country is one of the highest in the world and Dutch people rate their individual life with 8 out of 10. Still they are very dissatisfied with their country and their political elites. To liberals I say: This is definitive proof for the fact that people are not just individuals, their collective side is equally important.

    They are angry that their country changed because of so many muslims (they regard 5% als much). They are angry that many low paid jobs went abroad because of the single european market and globalisation. They are angry that because of the crisis many state services were cut and many people can no longer pay their bills. They are very, very angry and now turned destructive. Ukraine will be one of the victims, the EU will be an other, muslims will become a victim and our democracy as well.

    The Netherlands, like so many other countries, is heading for authoritarian right wing rule like in Hungary. Our right wing populist party is more than twice as big as the second biggest party. The political centre is eroding with astonishing speed. This is always the prelude to misery. The right wing freedom party makes no secret out of the fact that it wants to destroy the EU, like almost all other populist right wing parties in Europe. The role of bolsjewism as external scapegoat in the thirties has been taken over by the EU today.

    To make a long story short: There will probably be a “no” at the referendum to hurt our political class, to hurt the EU. And if developments in Europe go on like this, there will soon be no more EU to associate with.

    I feel sorry for Ukraine, I feel sorry for my country, I feel sorry for Europe, I feel sorry for my daughter ! Modern day fascism did it again. The destruction of out continent apparently wasn’t enough to kill this European demon !