Between five and seven million Ukrainians have left their homeland in search
of a better life in the last decade.
Whatever excuses the apologists for the government may come up with, these
people have given up on the ballot box and instead voted with their feet.
There's no hiding that more than a decade ago the population of Ukraine
stood at more than 52 million - figures produced last January showed this
had dropped to 47, 622, 436.
Although it would be unfair to blame this all on migration, the fear is that
the population will continue to decline.
This year is going to be crucial to Ukraine's future with its impending
October election - and it will be interesting to see if the country once
known as "the breadbasket of Europe" can pull itself out of the mire.
Whatever happens, Ukraine's political and economic problems are not going to
The ever-growing diaspora is watching from the sidelines, and has its own
If the country is run by oligarchs, Tony Leliw poses the following question:
If you had their financial and political power, what would you do to improve
Ukraine's situation, and what lasting legacy would you like to leave?
"I would then do a deal whereby the oligarchs keep their illegal proceeds
from the 1990s but stay out of politics, in return for not blocking
opposition leader Victor Yushchenko becoming president this year."
The son of Ukrainian-Italian parents, Mr Kuzio adds: "The deal would include
the forcible emigration of President Kuchma's chief of staff Viktor
Medvedchuk from Ukraine with no right to ever return and confiscation of his
assets inside Ukraine."
Mr Kuzio would also change the political landscape radically by making
opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko prime minister, Oleksandr Moroz
parliamentary speaker and Stepan Khmara ambassador to Russia.
Withdraw from the CIS Joint Economic Space and limit to a minimum
any involvement in the organisation.
* * *
Stefan Ciapryna, 17 year old student from London, says: "Recently the
constitution has been in the process of being revamped; I fear further
upheaval of this sort will lead to a totalitarian regime, with an all
powerful government in what can only be described as an 'elective
"If I had power in Ukraine I would choose wisely what, if anything, is to be
changed, allowing the electorate to have the most possible say.
"Secondly, what may be news to you is the rewinding of time essentially in
Ukraine. What I mean is the control the police and essentially government
are trying to regain.
"In the past few weeks, people travelling to Ukraine must register with the
police within 24 hours of arrival. Then, every time they move place, they
must again register with the local police.
"This is just as the old soviet system was in 1989 under Gorbachev's reign.
Have we learnt nothing from fighting for our independence? I would abolish
this practice as it will discourage people from coming to Ukraine making
"The corrupt government should have been chucked out on 24th August 1991
when we gained independence. There needs to be a shake up; government is
supposed to educate its people not revert to old soviet ways!
"Here comes the point that Russian is once more the first language.
Ukrainian should be compulsory in public, and if people want to speak
Russian, they can do it at home.
"What the church is trying to do, by setting up new churches and turfing out
the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholics in Kiev is good. I would further
support and fund this, trying to recruit and educate people in religion.
"Building memorials for things such as the famine of 1932-33 is a must, as
many Ukrainians died in this short time span as Jews in the Holocaust!
"I would educate Ukrainians living there as well as the other world
governments once and for all; and not give them soviet propaganda that hides
the true extent of murder that took place not only in the famine, but in
both world wars.
"More money needs to be invested into sport. There is nothing that raises
the profile of a country more than sport.
"Ukrainians were always the backbone of the former Soviet Olympic/football
teams, so lets show the world what we are made of."
* * *
Bohdan Mysko, 57, a chartered electrical engineer working in the water
industry in London, says: "I would set up a satellite station which would
broadcast all political points of view.
"Other ideas would include: creating a venture capital fund which would be
made available to small businesses, a network of privately-owned kiosks
which could sell any newspapers and magazines, preferably in the Ukrainian
language; and promote Ukrainian agricultural produce through a large
national supermarket chain, which eventually would start selling its produce
"My lasting legacy would be to leave an imprint on the country, by
influencing the development and evolution of a more balanced and democratic
state. Freedom of speech has been lacking there for centuries."
* * *
Stepan Pasicznyk, a 40-year-old musician from London, said if he were a
business tycoon in Ukraine, he would do three things: "I would plough
millions into an independent TV station that supports the likes of
opposition leaders Tymoshenko and Yushchenko.
"Then I would have the best bodyguards employed to protect employees of the
TV station, and the candidates it supports.
"I would also build up the tourist industry on the Black Sea coast as it has
massive potential. It would expose Ukraine to the world in a way that would
force it to have to adapt."
* * *
Foto: Tony Leliw
Anna Batoryk, a 41-year-old secretary from London, said: "I would employ
some of the best captains of industry in the world to sort out the country's
economic and political problems.
"This could mean giving them top jobs in key industries to turn them around
and use their invaluable contacts to win overseas contracts bringing jobs
and prosperity to the country.
"It might not hurt to give a woman the chance to run for president - I'm
sure she would tell Mr Putin a thing or too if he tried to meddle in her
"My lasting legacy would be to set up a fund so that young people could
visit different parts of Ukraine so that they could immerse themselves in
the rich and varied culture the country has to offer."
* * *
Andy Krewniuch, a 48-year-old computer programmer from Adelaide, Australia,
said: "I would try and help poor people by buying gifts and products and
getting international charitable organisations to distribute them.
"My mother is always sending food parcels and clothes to our relatives in
Western Ukraine - they are always writing that money is in short supply and
things are so expensive. It's a simple idea but would be hard to implement -
because of corruption."
* * * * *
Tony Leliw is a London-based journalist whose articles have appeared in respected publications such as the London Evening Standard and The Times, as well as news services in Ukraine and the U.S.
Feature stories by Mr. Leliw that have been published on Brama include :