A Letter to Maidan: Situation in Luhansk
Added: Maidan-INFORM, 29-11-2004 21:29
I want to describe and analyze the situation that we have here in Luhansk.
1. Here in Luhansk we have a criminal pro-government bacchanalia that had started long before November 21. It’s almost Palermo [a reference to the mafia] here. Businesses, criminals and corrupted government officials have created a symbiosis that co-exist perfectly. Please note that we did not change our governor for 8 years. Our region was simply “leased out” to them. People are treated as silent obedient herds that live in their stalls and mind their simple business: work, paycheck and no war in their homes.
2. People here are extremely apolitical. When the country was stirred up in 1990-1991 [the era of independence from the old Soviet Union] nothing was happening here. During the coup in Russia in the 90's one could probably see rare slogans written on the fences, like "Protect Yeltsin!" and maybe a slightly increased number of highway patrol cars. Whoever one tries to talk to about the elections, one gets the following answers: - "Well, who cares really..." - "I have never voted and will not vote this time." - "Nothing depends on me anyway." - "They are all alike." - "Nothing will ever change. Everybody is stealing. We steal too. This is life." - "Yes, we are for our guy [Yanukovych], for our crook" (exact words! People are aware of certain activities of their favorite and twice-not-convicted candidate). This is about the high voter turn-out in Luhansk region.
3. All the media successfully misinform people. One can hear talks about Yuschenko being a spy, a thief and that he is on America's payroll. Tymoshenko is a criminal that is being hunted for by Interpol , etc., etc.
4. The main concern is the alleged ukrainization. I think, only mute people do not talk about it (sorry for this analogy). All conversations about the language end up with nothing. It is impossible to prove anything to anyone. Some quotes: - "they will force us to speak Ukrainian, but we do not want to..." - "we will all be fired if we do not speak Ukrainian." - "I do not know Ukrainian and do not want to learn it." If you tell them that for 14 years no one has been forcing them to speak Ukrainian – this reasoning just does not work here. It also does not work if one says that there is a difference between the status of everyday language and that of official language. It does not work even with sophisticated people.
Regional officials are corrupted up to their chins. Economics in the Region is not blossoming at all! They keep closing mines; prices are going up, as well as unemployment. How can they create jobs if small businesses are being suppressed by all kinds of pay-offs. All the big manufacturers are on the government "hook ". All students and workers were given an ultimatum: either you vote for Yanukovych, or you are out of here. What one can say? Luhansk colleges and universities are leaders in the number of students that are being kicked out for their political views. People are being forced to go the meetings and given orders about how long they should stay there. Then adults go to a free dinner and to get their "bonuses" and youths give back their posters and go home. They are just used as poster holders. As far as I understand, young people treat those meetings as a chance to hang out. This is a generation that did not have enough of "Pioneer" games and wants to catch up. None of those "young roots" is interested in the program of the candidate whose name they chant so loudly. It does not matter if they chant "Yanukovych" or "Yuschenko". It is all sort of a "Boy Scout" game: ties, flags, chanting. Some of those young people are already a part of criminal groups. They do it because they were given an order by their gang leaders.
For the older generation everything is much more complicated. Retired people are glad to get their pensions raised. They think it is forever. (The other day my neighbor had to get a document that states how much is the pension she gets. She needed this document to get a subsidy. She was very surprised to see the real figure, without that temporary increase that Yanukovych had given to the retired people. I told her that she had been warned back in September. Her answer was... silence). [To curry favor with retirees, the government raised their pensions by almost double in September. Yuschenko argues that it is only a one time raise, an election time stunt, that the government is not serious about making it permanent.]
Middle-aged people (mind that our region is extremely apolitical) that are usually dissatisfied with their salaries, treat these elections as a way to earn some money (rallies, observers, protocols, commissions, etc.). For businessmen everything is very simple. Those who have already established their business through support from regional officials or police, will vote for Yanukovych, considering this a kind of a backup. The rest of the business people are easily intimidated by all kind of inspections: tax office, fire safety, the license issuing office etc. Some people see their established and protected future in becoming a parliamentary deputy from the Party of Regions because it is a VERY profitable and not too bothersome business, besides, it offers immunity...
Thus, the situation is not just bad, it is frightening. People that support Yuschenko (there are plenty of them here despite all the "brainwashing") are afraid to live here, not to mention wearing orange ribbons and scarves! After the Region Council in Severodonetsk [where separatism was discussed] the situation gets terrifying. It reminds me of old Communist Party Congresses. Same words, same participants, and the same reaction to slogans. It also reminds me of witches' gathering. All these people try to grab their last chance to rescue their money. This last chance is separatism.
Well now tell me how Russia can miss something like this? "New" democrats (democrats proper disappeared with Yeltsin) of our northern neighbor have never given up and will never give up the empire in any of its forms. Moscow has always been the "collector of lands". Now, represented by Putin and Luzhkov, Russia tries to make true their old plans to become a super power. But it will not be an economical super power. Its power will be measured by how much other countries fear Russia. Any Russian, when asked what he or she thinks of Ukraine, shows that he or she does not consider Ukraine an independent country. The same is true for official authorities. That is how the Russian government actualizes "hopes" of its citizens. This is a way to kill two birds with one stone: they distract the attention of their citizens from inner Russian problems (terrorism, democratic development, cost of living) and improve their international "image" by restoring the empire.
"Tsars" of the regions came to the Regional Council trying to keep safe their businesses, disguising their real goals with slogans about who is feeding whom. The audience was very grateful: their own people, gangsters holding flags. When they talk about who is feeding whom, it is time to understand that almost all the money the Donbass coal region makes precipitates in three pairs of pockets. Nothing goes further! But this is too sophisticated and simple people are not interested in this stuff. They are taught that this guy is “one of them through and through” and all other things are just lies. People, please do something! Save us here in Luhansk! Please, fight for us! If things continue to develop like this, a political migration will start from the east to center and west. Get ready...
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Secession in Ukraine--the situation in Lugansk
Here's a letter sent to Maidan a website operated by Yuschenko supporters. It is a good statement of the problems that come from talking about whether or not the people of the eastern region support separatism as it is being called here, that is, separation from the rest of Ukraine. (We would call it secession.) Lugansk is one of those regions where there is agitation for it on the part of some. But do the people actually support it?