Kiev, October 24 2004
I'm writing you this from the country, now haunted with the gory prospect of being forcefully turned, in a week, into one of the most terrible thugocratic dictatorships that Europe has witnessed since Hitler and Stalin. You may find this an exaggeration, yet it's not. It's usually so human, to refuse to believe the worst - until it's too late. Besides, from my recent conversations with my friends and journalists from EU, I know how little information canbe found in the European media on the situation in Ukraine - and, as a result, how little understanding there is of what is really at stake here this fall.
Last night the first blood was spilled on the Kiev pavement. The autocratic post-Soviet regime, which since the late 1990s has been smothering the budding Ukrainian democracy, and is by now wholeheartedly hated by the vast majority of population (from 67% to 85%, according to the polls!), has given us its final proof, that there'll be NO - however heavily falsified - "free elections" on October, 31. There'll be a WAR - an open war, launched against the people of Ukraine by the handful of gangsters now at power, whose only goal is to stay at power after the 31st - at ANY price.
Until last night they've been using the "cold-war" methods (to skip the case of an attempted poisoning of the oppositional candidate, Victor Yushchenko, whose chances to win the elections in an honest game are undeniable). There's been a disgusting and overwhelming campaign of lies in the media (most of them, with very few exceptions, controlled by the power), there’ve been all the dirty, illegal tricks used (payments, threats, repressions etc.), as well as cheating with the voting lists (with, say, tens of thousands of the dead included on them, etc). Nothing of these, though, proved efficient enough to guarantee next Sunday the smooth and peaceful victory to the "candidate of the power" - the present-day Prime Minister (appointed by the president), a former (?) criminal, back in his youth twice convicted for robbery (no kidding!).
Yesterday, the grand "orange" manifestation (orange being the colour of the oppositional candidate) of some 150000-200000 people filled the square in front of the Central Election Committee, under the slogan "For honest and transparent elections". It's been a warm, tranquil sunny day (do you know how beautiful is Kiev in the fall?), and the 3-million city was all celebration - of joy, and hope, and solidarity. It's been a long time since I've been so many happy, smiling faces in the streets - in fact, since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet then, in 1991, as the past 13 years have proved, our celebration was definitely premature. With no change of the political elite, with just very small burgeons of civil society, with - well, why don't I put it plainly - no REAL revolution, Ukraine, after a while, started sliding back into the dark shadow of Sovietization. It's only now, that the dragon of Soviet totalitarianism - in the meantime considerably shrunken, losing one part of his body after another (Eastern Europe - the Baltics - then, last fall, Georgia...), all rotten up to the marrow of his bones (its true - criminal - skeleton now fully exposed!) - is REALLY agonizing. And the convulsions of the dragon could be terrible - isn't the case of Russia conspicuous enough?
Vladimir Putin, who has so quickly turned his country back into a concentration camp, fully browbeaten with the fear of terrorism, now serves as the major support for the Ukrainian thugs. Small wonder, as criminals and the KGB officers used to belong together since good old Gulag times. The whole presidential campaign of our "candidate of the power", Victor Yanukovich, is a brainchild of Moscow professionals. Politically and intellectually, Kiev now more and more looks like the city under Russian occupation. And what exactly have they plotted to ensure "the succession of power" in Ukraine, has become visible last night.
About 23.00, after the singing "orange" crowd in front of the Central Election Committee dispersed, and only some 150 people - among them women, and senior citizens - stayed to wait for the results of the session (which was held inside) to be announced (on the agenda was an attempt to falsify some 2 million voices, due to the machinations with the voting lists!) - the dragon has bared his teeth for the first time. Some 50 black-leathered men appeared out of the darkness, and attacked people, who were waiting on the park benches, with clubs and knives. There was no police around (!), but three of the attackers - when the parliamentarians and the bodyguards ran out of the building - were caught and handcuffed. According to their IDs, they all appeared to be disguised policemen - of the specially trained ”killers' detachments".
Yes, there've been rumours circulating before - of some "special detachments" arriving from all over the country and concentrating around the city. Of some strange, and highly suspicious manoeuvres noted by the city-dwellers in some areas. Now, next morning after the "night of the long knives" (as a result of which, 11 peaceful demonstrators were taken to the hospital, some of them seriously wounded), there's no doubt left: the war has been announced. The gangsters at power aren't going to leave in any case. They are going to fight - most probably, after the voting-booths will be closed.
Could any, however "specially trained", groups of murderers REALLY work against hundreds of thousands of people? (For people ARE going to go into the streets on the election night, and Ukrainian internet is now boiling with the discussions on how and where to meet, how toprotect oneself against the attacks, etc.). Well, maybe they couldn't. And Ukrainian army will hardly agree to turn its guns against its own people, either. But on October, 28 - three days before the elections - there'll be a military parade (!) in Kiev (nothing like this was ever held before on this date!). And Russian president Vladimir Putin is coming to Kiev - allegedly, to take part in the parade (?). And to stay in Kiev for 5 (?) days more. Again, there're rumours - oh, these rumours! - that he'll be bodygarded by some bayonets. More precisely - with two divisions being particularly famous of their operations in the Caucases...
Maybe Ukraine has only one week left. One last week of the electrifying autumn of free political discussions in the cafes and clubs, of gatherings, manifestations, and -well, of hope. For, dspite everything, there's an extremely strong, and growing hope, I even daresay, an upsurging belief, that the Ukrainian part of the dragon will be killed next Sunday with the free will of the people. Today the anchorman on the last Ukrainian free TV channel yet unclosed (Channel 5) was smiling the same way people were yesterday in the streets. (For quite a while persecuted, now sued, Channel 5 is under the threat of being closed tomorrow night - but the anchorman was smiling like a winner.) Now covering no more than 30% of the country's territory, Channel 5 was the only one which gave a full report on the events of the last night. Characteristically, none of the beaten witnesses sounded "victimized" -they all talked indignantly, but righteously: that is, like people aware of their rights, and ready to protect them.
It's a totally irrational, yet overwhelming feeling: that "we", the people, are stronger than "them", the corrupted power. And that it's ”them", not "us", who is scared.
On the night of the elections I'll be in the streets, too. I don't know what is going to happen there. That is, what forces will be turned against us, and what will be the final result. Yet, even if the worst happens, and the Putin's bayonets help to turn my country, for God-knows-how-long, into a criminal-presided reservation of the degraded Stalinist type, we'll be in the streets - if only to be able to say, that THIS IS NOT OUR CHOICE.
Knowing how easily (and, more than once, eagerly!) does Western press buy the "made-in-Russia" political myths on the current Ukrainian situation (on Ukraine being allegedly "split" into East and West, "pro-Russian" and "pro-Western", Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking parts, each of them allegedly delegating its own candidate for the presidency), I just wanted to let you know how the things
look and feel here in the reality. By spreading the truth further, you'll make your own contribution into killing the dragon. For, as we all know from this old guy Orwell (WHO on earth has ever been so careless to have claimed him outdated?) - what the dragon needs most badly for its survival, is precisely the fake, artificially constructed
mental picture. And - needless to say that - the agony of the dragon should by no means be lightheartedly taken as a local process only...
It's not a farewell letter - it's a letter of hope.
Please keep your fingers for us this week!
With warmest regards,