June 30, 2015

A Ukrainian journalist's point of view of Ukraine

Mar 13

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Svitlana Zholobaylo

About the author

Svitlana Zholobaylo works in Kiev, Ukraine for the International Research and Exchange Board and arranges partnerships between U.S. and Ukrainian media.

Almost a month ago, I tried to go by train to visit my parents who live in Western Ukraine, but I failed. It was the weekend after the killings of EuroMaidan activists in Kyiv. The trains from Western Ukraine were stopped in the middle of nowhere to prevent people, who wanted to support Maidan, to get to Kyiv.

Those were scary days – metro closed, offices closed, working from home and not knowing what news to expect the next morning. Thankfully, it was over a few days later when the Parliament voted for Yanukovych's removal from power and the Temporary Government appointed.

But then the new authorities started to make mistakes, and we were receiving some scary news from Crimea about unidentified military soldiers who seized the Parliament and tried to occupy Ukrainian military settlements.

I think the Ukrainian Parliament and new officials shouldn't have touched the Language Law for the time being; that was not the priority at this time. The Russian language was never under pressure in Ukraine - most people were speaking Russian and you could hardly hear people speaking Ukrainian. I speak 4 languages, including Russian, though my native language is Ukrainian. But we have what we have…

We have media partners in Crimea who became my friends and I am really worried about them since they were always active in their communities, fighting with local authorities and making them accountable for their deeds.

The announced Referendum on joining Russia this Sunday will bring some news and I doubt the news will be good. It's good to hear that many intelligent people in Crimea do not want to join Russia, but there are people who think their lives will improve if Crimea becomes part of Russia.

My personal belief is that Yanukovych should have resigned just after EuroMaidan started in November 2013. He could have saved so many lives and saved the beautiful and peaceful country he was ruining for so many years. He is to blame for the current situation, though at his last press-conference from Rostov-on-Don in Russia he announced that “I am not to blame for the things happening now in Ukraine.”

So many people all over the world are praying for Ukraine these days. I hope Ukraine will stay united, though every day I am scared to switch on the TV and watch news. I am following posts on Facebook from Crimean friends and I am proud for their brave hearts.

I knew being a journalist is a dangerous profession, but a few months ago I could never believe this would be so true for Ukrainian journalists.

- By Svitlana Zholobaylo

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