Since I continue to receive a plurality of page views to this blog from Ukraine, thought I might keep up with what’s going on in that country.
In today’s (December 9, 2013) Wall Street Journal:
“Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets here for a second weekend, blockading government buildings and demanding that President Viktor Yanukovych fire his cabinet and reject plans to form a closer alliance with Russia.
“After speeches in the central Kiev square that pro-European protesters have occupied for the past week, crowds fanned out peacefully across downtown, crying “Glory to Ukraine!” and “Get the gang out!”
“Activists advanced in columns from the square and set up new barricades on roads leading to government buildings, saying they would prevent Mr. Yanukovych’s administration from working until he cedes to their demands. Protesters, angered by Mr. Yanukovych’s visit Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, tore down a statue of Vladimir Lenin, a potent symbol of Moscow’s historical dominance over this former Soviet republic.”
Back in the 1990s, cantankerous Dallas hamburger purveyor Harvey Goff retrieved a statue of Lenin from a Russian city and placed it in front of his local restaurant on a pedestal that bore the simple inscription “America Won”. The statue in Kiev probably was not quite as provocative.
Ukraine’s economy is hurting from a soft world market for steel, its main export, and the cost of natural gas, its most significant source of energy. One purported reason Yanukovych is seeking ties with Vladimir Putin’s Russia is that nation is the main source of gas and pretty much sets the price. at will. As I mentioned before, the cultural divide may be the real reason.
Gas deals seems to be the ostensible reason why Yanukovych prosecuted former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is presently in prison for alleged corruption. Western observers believe the charges against her were trumped up to suit the present administration’s political ends. There is a “Free Yulia” movement in Ukraine, but so far the Yanukovych regime hasn’t paid much attention.
The Obama Administration is playing coy with the current Ukrainian-Russian situation, probably in the hope not to offend Putin. Our Secretary of State John Kerry may have committed a gaffe when he referred to “the” Ukraine. That nation pointedly dropped the definite article prefix, which implied that it was a region rather than a sovereign nation, along with the “Soviet Socialist Republic” when it broke with the USSR in 1991.
There does not seem to be much of a Ukrainian lobby here in the U.S. that is comparable to the Armenian, or other immigrant ethnics believing themselves ill-used in their ancestral country. There are, however, a few prominent Americans of Ukrainian birth or descent. Such as:
Jack Palance – tough-guy villain in many Hollywood films.
Andy Warhol – pop artist.
Neko Case – present day popular singer-songwriter.
Bob Dylan – iconic 1960s folk songwriter.
Mike Ditka – Dallas Cowboys pro football player and Chicago Bears head coach.
Mike Royko _ Chicago news columnist (liked to say he was of Polkrainian descent – mom was Polish born).
Anyway, here is Yulia wearing her trademark crown of braids: