We are not extremists! – Open letter of Ukrainian scholars

We are not extremists! 

Open letter of the Ukrainian scholars, scientists, artists, doctors, lawyers, pedagogues and journalists to their fellow citizens and to the international community. 

In the past several days, the protests of Ukrainians against the policies of the Ukrainian government have taken on a new quality. The peaceful demonstrations turned into a forceful confrontation between the protesters and the police. For the past six days, in the government quarter at the heart of Kyiv, on Hrushevskyi Street, genuine battles between the demonstrators and the police have been going on, with hundreds of wounded and several deaths.

The government in Ukraine is trying to frame the situation as progroms initiated by the extremist, radical rightist organizations, Ukrainian neofascists, mostly from the Western regions of Ukraine.

We are moderate people, peaceful professionals, of varied ethnic origin, from various regions of Ukraine. We do not sympathize with the right-wing radical organizations, let alone being their members. We do not think that throwing Molotov cocktails or stones can serve as adequate instruments for protecting one’s values.

Despite this, we declare our solidarity with those, who have been forced to use these instruments today. 

We are convinced: the overwhelming majority of the protesters does not belong to any extremist organizations. A 21 year old farmer from Dnipropetrovsk region, Serhiy Nigoyan, who was shot in Hrushevskyi Street, was not a member of such organizations, neither was a 50 year old Ph.D. (physical and mathematical sciences), Yuriy Verbytskyi, a seismologist from L’viv region, wounded in Hrushevskyi Street, kidnapped by unknown subjects, and taken to a forest, where he died.

The turn from hitherto unprecedented massive and peaceful protests to radical ways of expressing one’s position was forced upon the protesters by the policies of the Ukrainian government, which demonstrates utter disregard for the interests of Ukrainian citizens, ignores their opinions and uses violence against the peaceful protesters. The last straw that broke the camel’s back and provoked the battle in downtown Kyiv was the blatant attempt to usurp power by the faction of the Party of Regions in the national legislature. On January 16th, violating the established parliamentary procedure and practically without a genuine vote count, that faction adopted bills that severely violate the Constitution and the international human rights standards. The President, instead of imposing a veto, signed these laws the following day.

It was the government of Ukraine, which was quickly losing any remaining semblance of legitimacy, that radicalized people that never belonged to any extremist groups. The government left the protesters no other choice. That is why the attempts to portray the protesters as fascist-like extremists is nothing but a ruse, a manipulation and a falsification on the part of the government, designed to absolve itself of responsibility for the clashes in center city Kyiv and to form the corresponding public opinion about the anti-governmental protests, both among the Ukrainians and the citizens and politicians of other nations. All that is being done with express purpose of creating an informational background favorable to the forceful crackdown on the protests.

Simultaneously, though, we proclaim that the continuation of such forceful confrontation will lead to more violence and more casualties. To stop the escalation of violence, the government must remove the special forces of the Ministry of the Interior and soldiers of the Interior Militia, which were brought to Kyiv, must stop criminal persecutions of the protesters and strike down the shameful laws adopted on January 16th, afterward arranging for genuine, not just decorative, negotiations with the opposition, including the representatives of the civil society.

Signed by:

Yevhen Zakharov, Director of Kharkiv Human Rights Group, Kharkiv;

Serhiy Zhadan, writer, Kharkiv;

Viktor Pushkar, social psychologist, Ph.D. (psychological sciences), scientific director of IC «Maidan Monitoring», Kyiv;

Oleksander Severyn, attorney at law, J.D. (legal sciences), legal consultant of IC «Maidan Monitoring», Kyiv;

and others.

From Ukrainian, translated by Bohdan Pechenyak.

(Source, HERE. Thanks to my friend Vasile Ernu for this link.)

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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