Filmmakers: Jill Emery and Jean Michel Carre
Ukraine, the biggest country in Eastern Europe, is sandwiched between Russia and the West. It was a vital player in the downfall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991.
And the Orange Revolution in 2004 ended the corrupt autocratic pro-Russian regime.
But six years later, through the newly elected President Viktor Yanukovich, the head of the Party of Regions, it returned to the grips of its powerful oligarchs and Russia. So the people got neither the rule of law nor the democracy they had imagined.[W.Z. This documentary presents a brief history of Ukraine, comments by Viktor Yushchenko, Holodomor survivor, WWII, disillusionment with German "liberators", return of Soviets, death of Stalin, Kuchma and Gorbachev comments on Chernobyl nuclear explosion. Disintegration of the Soviet Union as related by Natalia Changula and her mother -- human chain from Lviv to Kyiv (1990?), declaration of independence 24Aug1991, election of Kuchma and rise of Oligarchs, Yushchenko, Yulia Tymoshenko, Gongadze death and "Ukraine without Kuchma" campaign led by Yulia Tymoshenko, which led to reprisals against her family and her, nomination of Yanukovych as presidential candidate, poisoning of Yushchenko on 05Sep2004, Orange Revolution, Krivorizhstal reprivatization followed by dismissal of Tymoshenko as Prime Minister, Yanukovych becomes Prime Minister after 26Mar2006 parliamentary elections, Brian Bonner comments on Yulia Tymoshenko that she really tried to curb corruption, Medvedev visit to Ukraine, trials of Yulia Tymoshenko and her conviction on 11Oct2011, touching tribute by Natalia Changula to her recently deceased mother, Yaroslava Leshchenko.]
By Jill Emery
It's terrible to lie in chains and rot in dungy deep,
But it's still worse when you are free,
To sleep and sleep and sleep.
(Taras Shevchenko, 1814-1861, a famous Ukrainian poet and author of the national anthem)
I visited Ukraine for the first time in 1963 on a school trip to Russia for pupils studying Russian in the UK. Ukrainian Nikita Kruschev had replaced Joseph Stalin at the head of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
Ukraine, at the western extremity, was not like Russia -- it
In the streets, young people gave us shy glances filled with curiosity, before lowering their eyes and hastening their pace. Talking to us meant danger for them. To them, we were from outer space - the enemy. But we soon found they were ready to take risks.
During our visit we were strictly controlled by our tourist guides. But at night we managed to escape their guard to meet two boys who had earlier thrown us a discrete ball of screwed up paper, which seemed to suggest a meeting place.
They were proficient in English, keen to know about the other
side, rebellious, intelligent and curious. But they disappeared as soon
as they heard the familiar sound of OGPU (secret police) officers
Unfortunately, Ukraine was another planet then, and to me it still is.
Ukraine has been shaped by centuries of invasion and today people of many different ethnic origins make up the population. The Ukrainians are an explosive, colourful, joyous people despite centuries of repression by big brother Russia. But the Orange Revolution was proof of what the people were capable of.