|(Independence Square Under Protest in Kiev Picture: EPA Igor Kovalenko )|
Unlike most American boys of his age, Daniel knew a fair bit about Ukraine, and even knew that it is no longer "The Ukraine" but now, simply "Ukraine". Homeschooling gave us the benefit of being able to study some history and geography depth that would not normally be included in the contemporary public school curriculum, and so, he knew a great deal more about the world, and about other nations than most Americans do. He also knew something about Ukraine for another reason. My husband's family were originally from Switzerland in the 1630s. One of his ancestors was a mayor who got into trouble with the powerful Catholic church of the day, when he stated that he believed that a baptism should be done on someone who was aware of the choice they were making, rather than have a religious baptism performed upon them as an infant. In that day, this was heresy, and as a result, he and his his large family had to flee for their lives, and went to Germany. Eventually, when Catherine the Great gave forty acres or more to families willing to settle in what became the Ukraine, my husband's ancestors lived there. (Those who are interested in reading more about this can look up the Molotschna Mennonite Settlement in Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine ) My husband's ancestors eventually came to the United States when it became clear to them that the Mennonites were to be controlled by the government there. Daniel knew our family history on both sides, and I think that knowledge of family history made world history much more relatable and therefore more interesting to him.
It has been interesting to me that although I have never mentioned our family's history in Ukraine, however transitory, that Ukraine has been one of the nations that reads this blog and my others, in the highest numbers. I really hope that some of the things we discuss here is somehow inspiring or encouraging, especially to those is Ukraine presently.
These are very difficult times in Ukraine. Although American mainstream television is quite insular and only reports on things that appear to be at the pleasure of our own present regime, we have learned about the present challenges from foreign news networks, such as France 24, NHK from Japan, DW from Germany, RT from Russia and of course, BBC from the United Kingdom. There has been turmoil in Ukraine in past years. Economist and educator Yulia Tymoshenko had been Ukraine's first female prime minister. Although she had been a prominent politician there, and has been jailed on what appeared to most of the world to be trumped up charges. She was pro Ukrainian integration into the European Union whereas her opposition would prefer alliances only with the Russian Federation. This has left a number of Ukrainians feeling underrepresented and concerned. Many of them wish to join the European Union rather than preserving an alliance with Russia that they feel has historically been their oppressor.
The present prime minister is Viktor Yanukovych. Mr. Yanukovych had promised to reduce the powers held by the prime minister and to leave more to the Constitution, however these changes have not come as quickly as most Ukrainians have wished. There is also the perception that he may be a Russian puppet. Many Ukrainians believe he is guilty of corruption and of cronyism. Many Ukrainians are demanding that he step down. There have been numerous violent protests and Ukrainian police and military have killed protestors and sometimes simply students who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. As I write this post, many Ukrainians believe that Ukraine sits on the verge of civil war. Just a few hours ago, Mr. Yanukovych agreed to an early election.
For more than a year Ukraine has been on the verge of civil war. Uncertainty and fear rule the day, and trust in the authorities is very weak. I am reminded of trends which seem to be occurring here albeit a little more slowly, as well. Please pray for the people of Ukraine who simply wish to live peacefully with equitable management. Please pray for the safety of the people of Ukraine. We are thinking of you and your families.
This link explains some of the recent turmoil in Ukraine and their current regime's role in this:
Update: February 22, 2014 It hasn't happened just yet but Parliament in Ukraine has voted to release Yulia Tymoshenko, who is currently in the hospital for a back ailment. Parliament has promised to return to the Constitution as written in 2004. However, the bulk of the people in Ukraine still wish to see Viktor Yanukovych removed. These remain difficult times there. Many people are concerned that such concessions may not be permanent ones. They do not trust their present government.