We got a report yesterday of a very wealthy man who is down at the protests on the square. Apparently this guy has a three floor apartment, something almost unimaginable in a country where most people live in one or two rooms. (Not bedrooms but rooms. This of course excludes the bathroom and kitchen but they are often not that large at all to add much space.) He has a chauffer who drives him around. He eats at the best places, has the best clothes and I am sure he associates in the highest circles of society and government. In short, this man leads an enviable life for just about anyone either here or in the US.
But this man, to the surprise of his colleagues, set up a tent down on Kreschatik (the street that bisects the square) and is living there, in the tent city, sleeping on a cot--maybe a luxury cot, if there is such a thing, but a cot nonetheless. And his security personnel are staying there with him. His friends can’t understand what has gotten into him. They think he's gone crazy. And if you think about it, he has.
It is highly unlikely that a person here can get wealthy without having some sort of patron in government. Often that means being part of a clan but it can mean simply that you have access to power for some reason. That is the system here. If you have access to the right power center in government, you can become immensely wealthy. And a number have.
This man has made his wealth under that system of patronage, the current system. But Yuschenko has pledged to abolish that system under a campaign to get rid of corruption. This man is helping to fight against the very system that has given him his wealth. Call it killing the goose that laid the golden egg or biting the hand that feeds him, the point is that he is not acting in a way that would protect his interests.
So why is he doing it?
He is doing it because he is Ukrainian and he sees his people out on the street at risk and he has cast his lot with them. For him, being Ukrainian is the most important thing. What is left is not much by comparison. He is out there with his people trying to secure for his people the right to a democratic government. It is as simple as that.