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To A Ukrainian Spring

Every person living in Ukraine is forced to believe in three great falsehoods: the first consists of the assumption that all of today's humiliating disorders - economic collapse, poverty, unemployment - are natural consequences of our postcommunist transition. This is cynical and cruel; moreover, it is dangerously wrong. The truth is that, daily, Ukrainians are deprived by force of much of our national wealth. We are deprived of it due to state treachery, illegal agreements, and corrupt and incompetent officials.

The second falsehood consists of the belief that somebody ``out there'' will help Ukraine rise to its feet. We naively hold our breath waiting for a happy moment when another portion of foreign aid will arrive. We must stop believing in imported cures. Where is our dignity? We must begin to understand that no one can help Ukraine save we Ukrainians. We must apply our own talents and intellect, not wait for handouts from abroad.

The third falsehood is the fear of instability and social unrest that will supposedly break out if President Kuchma and his cronies lose the upcoming election. But instead of unrest, I foresee only celebrations if Kuchma is defeated. In any case, instability is unlikely because our state officials, at all levels, will forget about Kuchma the minute the vote-count tolls his defeat. They will be too busy thinking about themselves to worry about him or to cause trouble. Besides, in civilized countries a change of government is seen as a sign of stability. Ukraine needs and is ready for such a sign.

The parliamentary elections to be held on March 31 st will provide an answer to the main question everyone asks about Ukraine: can we overcome our lack of belief in ourselves, overcome our fears, to win a true democratic independence? Or will Ukrainians remain forever fearful slaves? If it is to be the latter, it does not matter who the master here is to be: Kuchma, his successor, Russia, or even some other powerful state. But Ukrainians now have peaceful and constitutional means to change their country and live their lives without a master. To do so, we must unite against the current regime.