Dispatches from Ukraine

Blogs Dispatches from Ukraine

O-R correspondents share the latest news from within Ukraine.

Journalist Olga Shestopalova writes about cultural affairs for TV Plus, the Observer-Reporter's partner newspaper in Slaviansk, in eastern Ukraine. She visited the Washington area several years ago as part of our newspapers' exchange program. She also works as a fashion model, and splits her time between Slovyansk and Kiev, the Ukrainian capitol. Ismayil Khayredinov was born in Uzbekistan in 1985, and raised in Crimea after his family returned to their ancestral land at the verge of USSR collapse. At the age of 14, he attended a boarding school for gifted children near Bahçesaray, operated by a Turkish company in partnership with Crimea's education ministry. In Ismayil 2001-2002 academic year, he took part in a one year high school exchange sponsored by the US Freedom Support Act, operated by American Councils. In 2004, he took part in the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program, and interned in the office of Hon. Borys Wrzesnewskyj. Ismayil graduated from Taurida National Vernadsky University in Simferopol with a degree in economics. During his student years and early careeer, Ismayil was involved with many international projects with a diverse range of interests, including agriculture, shipbuilding, exports, education and marketing. Notably, Ismayil took part in a Ukraine Media Partnership Program, where he has become friends with the Observer-Reporter staff. For the last 5+ years, Ismayil has been living in Prague, where he first directed an International Youth Leadership Conference, and is currently building his business in web development.

A Ukrainian journalist's point of view of Ukraine

March 13, 2014
Svitlana Zholobaylo

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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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.