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“Ukraine Has Not Yet Died”

The above title is the name of Ukraine’s national anthem and a fitting reminder of the danger the country finds itself in today, August 24, Independence Day.  

The anthem’s title sounds pessimistic to non-Ukrainians, but the lyrics are actually positive:

Our enemies will vanish like dew in the sun;
We too shall rule in our country.

A year has passed since Russian troops and tanks entered Ukraine, seizing the border town of Novoazovsk and in the process dropping the pretense that fighting in the eastern portion of the country was domestically-inspired.  Despite Minsk I and Minsk II ceasefire accords agreed to by Russian, separatist, Ukrainian and OSCE representatives, as Ukraine celebrates Independence Day, fighting in the east is intensifying.  In the past week, both civilian and military deaths have occurred.

The crisis in Ukraine has moved off the front pages of Western media.  But for IRI, the war is closer all the time.  IRI partners and even family members of our staff in Ukraine have received call-up notices from the army, with some now undergoing military training, before heading east.  One friend in particular stands out in my mind, a 33 year old conscripted man, single father of an eight year old daughter, soon to complete boot camp and possibly deploy to the front.

IRI’s Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk offices are doing what they can to support Ukraine’s independence and self-determination through training youth, local elected officials and civil society.  An important battleground is in the information realm: contrary to claims by the crude but effective Russian propaganda orchestrated by the Putin government, a just released IRI poll shows ever growing numbers of Ukrainians (55 percent) look to integration with democratic Europe rather than membership in the Russia-led Economic Union.  And, in the predominantly Russian culture of Odesa, only 1 percent of respondents to the IRI poll said Russian-speaking citizens were threatened by Ukraine, in sharp contrast to Moscow’s earlier claims of persecution of Russian speakers by Ukrainian nationalists to justify the invasion. 

There’s more we, the broader IRI family, can do.  The world’s media has largely moved on to other stories, but an active engagement in social media on Ukraine’s behalf is underway.  Ukraine’s fight is also the fight for all the pro-democracy programs we undertake worldwide and I encourage you to join our Kyiv and Washington-based staff in their efforts to keep Ukraine’s determination and Russia’s aggression spotlighted in your tweets and blogs.  

As the anthem says, “Ukraine has not yet died, the glory and the freedom! Still upon us brave brothers, Fate shall smile!”

Listen to the national anthem here:

 

Posted by

Tom Garrett

Vice President for Programs