Thanks for the Memories

06.12.2011 | kyivweekly.com.ua

Freedom anniversaries celebrated in silence

The two significant anniversaries of Ukraines modern day freedom will seemingly be celebrated behind closed doors this year. This is an ominous signal of the entrenchment of the authoritarian regime. December 1st is Freedom Day that heady day back in 1991 when 90% of the country voted to break away from the USSR for good. And the anniversary of the Orange Revolution was marked on the streets of Kyiv at the end of November in sinister fashion with more police than protesters outside the main post office in the capital. Ironically, the man they booted out is firmly back in power, and the revolutions heroes have fallen out, with some behind bars on dubious charges. With public anger these days mounting, the favored special police out were out on the streets along with those in plain clothes. Independence Square ground to a halt. It seems any gatherings are banned, whether by courts or by force. Public airing of steam and a few grievances are out. Such drastic measures signal that the authorities are aware that they face public wrath. They simply cannot run the risk of the masses remembering how they toppled the government 7 years ago - they might just do it again. At least in this they might be right. Never before has the public been united in its anger and disillusionment over the state of the economy and society. Moreover, everyday on TV, people have been watching ordinary people in Arab countries like Egypt and Libya triumph over more entrenched dictators all over the world. And unlike Belarus, Ukraines authorities have not been lulling the public with more-or-less adequate goods, services, and opportunities. The strong-hand tactics are likely to backfire badly. Deprived of their opportunity to complain, the public is likely to cause more unrest, possibly violent, in an alternate location. The Orange Revolution and Freedom Day were the first times in modern Ukrainian history that the public had a voice and changed the political course. Although the authorities of the day can be blamed for subsequent outcomes, nothing can take away this achievement. Pity that all of this is now just a fading memory.

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