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Ukraine group speaks out

Russian occupation of Crimea causes worry with students

By Kathleen McWilliams
On April 1, 2014

The lack of response from the international community on the subject of Russian President Vladimir Putin invading Ukraine's autonomous province is deplorable, representatives from the Ukrainian Student Association (USA) said.
"We're really concerned nothing is being done about the fact that Russia invaded a country," Roma Romaniv, member of USA, said.
The situation in Ukraine began to unfold in November after then President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a pending European Union association agreement that would allow the country to have close ties with the EU. Protestors took to the streets to demonstrate against his government and to call for his resignation. What unfolded in Maidan Square escalated into violent protest and the invasion of Crimea by Russian forces. What happens next is anyone's guess, but USA members were skeptical that action will be taken on an international level.
"The major problem is nothing is going to be done," Natalia Pylypyszyn, Daily Campus photographer and President of the Ukrainian Student Association, said.
Luda Susla, another member, said that what is happening in the Ukraine is altogether too similar to a situation that unfolded in Europe 70 years ago.
"This is the 21st Century," Susla said. "I'd expect this 60 to 70 years ago. We've seen this in history before with Hitler in Poland."
Pylypyszyn said that coincidentally, Poland has become one of Ukraine's biggest supporters. Internationally, Poland has printed their Coca Cola cans with the saying "Glory to Ukraine" and on campus, the Polish Cultural Society has reached out and even created a video to raise awareness on the situation.
"Poland has been our biggest ally. Even here, the President of the Polish Club reached out to us and made a video," Pylypyszyn said.
Other attempts at raising awareness have included tabling by the USA to promote awareness not only on the violence in Maidan square, but the jailing and torture of former Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko. The group tabled in the student union with a petition that called for Tymoshenko's release and accountability by the Ukrainian government.
Corruption, according to the group, has plagued Ukrainian politics since its independence from the Soviet Union.
"The reason there is corruption," Susla said, "Its not because they're bad people, it's because they need to survive."
Pylypyszyn added that ending governmental corruption that allowed for lavish presidential palaces is part of what the movement wants to change.
"It's about changing the whole system in general," Pylypyszyn said. "Ukraine has natural resources and is a highly educated country, but the system is so wrong."
As for solutions to the conflict, the group agreed that for Ukrainians their sense is that splittling the country in two or annexing Crimea is not the desired outcome.
"It's so counterintuitive because it undermines what Ukraine has been trying to do," Romaniv said.
As for how UConn students can get involved, the group agreed that boycotting Russian goods was an easy step to take.
"The very least you can do is boycott Russian vodka," Pylypyszyn said.
 


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