BRAMA, March 14, 2011, 9:00 AM ET|
An Open Letter to Viktor Yanukovych
Friday, 11 March 2011
By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Dear President Yanukovych:
As you must be aware from American diplomatic cables recently published by WikiLeaks Vladimir Putin does not have a high regard for you personally or as Ukraine’s president. Although much of the Ukrainian Diaspora doesn’t either, it does, unlike Mr. Putin, want you to succeed as the democratically elected leader of a free Ukraine that respects civil liberties and the country’s distinct history and language.
This Open Letter reflects personal views and not an official Church position.
Despite all your efforts to make Mr. Putin happy at the expense of Ukraine’s culture, sovereignty, and fledgling democracy, you’ve been personally humiliated as reflected in the diplomatic cables. No one, especially the democratically elected leader of Europe’s second largest nation, should be treated as you’ve been. Even those of us in the Diaspora who are unimpressed with your Administration find Russia’s attitude toward you and Ukraine distasteful. There is, however, a difference. We’re not surprised by it, but privately you probably are. Please don’t go back for more.
Hopefully, you’ve learned your lesson. Mr. Putin and the Kremlin are neither your friend nor Ukraine’s. Stop trying to get their approval. You don’t need it. Nor do you need the approval of the secular Russian Orthodox Church which is a political tool of Moscow’s subversive foreign policy.
You need the approval of the Ukrainian people and the blessing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and all spiritual leaders who respect Ukraine’s national re-awakening and its right to be free without Russia’s interference.
Sadly, yet I believe accurately, you’ve been perceived by Western leaders and much of the Ukrainian Diaspora as Moscow’s appointed governor in a regency reminiscent of Empress Catherine. Are you Russia’s appointed “Little Governor” or the democratically elected President of Ukraine, Europe’s second largest nation and potentially one of its wealthiest?
As you must be aware WikiLeaks will be releasing more American diplomatic cables from Kyiv in the coming months. Your image as an independent leader could be bolstered if you start showing backbone. Although it is understandable that you want “friendlier” relations with the northern neighbor, don’t put the country in Russia’s oppressive political shadow that obstructs the bright future that Ukraine deserves.
In some ways, you’ve projected your own personal insecurities and self-doubts onto the entire nation. This has enabled your so-called friends in Moscow to exert an influence into Ukraine’s affairs that no other sovereign nation would allow. Your friends in the Kremlin are laughing.
In addition, your self-doubts have encouraged allies with your approval or at least through your complacency to target political adversaries. This has especially hurt your image among Western leaders and Diaspora Ukrainians. Have you forgotten that in a fair election, albeit a very close one, you defeated the very people that are now being targeted for criminal investigations? You mock the very system that elected you. You confuse restricting freedoms with stability. You are not furthering stability. You are furthering authoritarianism and one party rule while forcing Ukraine to accept secular Russian Orthodoxy as the dominant faith.
The ongoing criminal pursuit of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her political allies is wrong. It must stop. It puts you, and rightly so, in a very unfavorable light.
Your Administration is at a crossroads. If you actually believe in Ukraine, even with the perspective you bring from the Eastern part of the country, then please consider re-examining your policies and adjust them accordingly.
Although Mr. Putin’s views about you personally and as president of Ukraine are known throughout the world, you still have an opportunity to show genuine leadership, a respect for Ukraine’s culture and language, and the confidence to change policies that threaten freedom of press, speech, and religion.
In all sincerity, I wish you every success as president, but so far your policies and attitudes toward your own nation have left me and millions of Ukrainians throughout the Diaspora disappointed, under whelmed, and concerned about the short- and long-term damage you're doing to Ukraine’s democracy.
Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
Designated spokesperson in the United States for
His Beatitude Metropolitan Myfodii
The views expressed here are personal and do not reflect those of the Church.
* * * * *
Apr 22 12 - Op-ed: Aiding and Abetting the Moscow Patriarchate
Mar 23 12 - Friends of Ukraine Take Action
Feb 24 12 - Will Ukraine have Its First Modern Political Martyr?
Jan 23 12 - Holocaust Remembrance Day
Dec 30 11 - Ukrainian World Praise for Major Archbishop Shevchuk
Dec 21 11 - Lessons from Muscovy
Aug 10 11 - Russian Truth
Apr 14 11 - President Yanukovych's Chance to Show Leadership
Mar 14 11 - An Open Letter to Viktor Yanukovych
Aug 27 10 - Independent Ukraine 2010
Jan 31 10 - Remembering Ukraine's Jews
Jan 15 10 - Orange Forever!
Aug 27 09 - UAOC Mourns the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy
Jan 14 08 - UAOC Bishop Condemns United Fatherland and Union of Orthodox Citizens
Oct 25 07 - Bishop calls for Annual Holocaust Memorial Day
May 28 07 - Priests try to end anti-Semitism
Feb 12 07 - Statement on Anti-Semitism
Feb 5 07 - Kyiv Patriarchate Appoints U.S. Director of Public Affairs
Nov 23 05 - Archbishop Husar's Orange Revolution of Faith
Sep 12 05 - Yushchenko showed leadership
Sep 7 05 - Metropolitan Mefodiy of Kyiv to visit America
Sep 2 05 - UAOC issues strong condemnation of anti-semitism
Apr 28 05 - Yushchenko at the Kennedy Library
Apr 1 05 - Diaspora rebirth begins in dialogue
Mar 11 05 - The Politics of Orthodoxy
Feb 11 05 - The Diaspora's Future
Jan 21 05 - Ukraine, Orthodoxy, and the Greek Prelate
Dec 22 04 - Has the Diaspora failed? Can more be done?
Dec 22 04 - Russia will not leave Ukraine alone
Dec 14 04 - God, Faith and the Orange Revolution
Dec 8 04 - Ukraine must run the extra mile
Dec 1 04 - Cage the Russian Circus Bear
Nov 24 04 - Support liberty - Practical things you can do
Nov 22 04 - Ukraine's Election - NOW WHAT?
Oct 11 04 - Catholic Patriarchate in Kyiv
Sep 29 04 - Kuchma and the American presidential election
Aug 13 04 - Op-ed: Foreign churches cannot dictate a unilateral non-Ukrainian spirituality in Ukraine (Patriarch Filaret and Ukrainian Spirituality)
Jul 26 04 - Op-ed: Viktor Yushchenko and Ukraine's future (Ukraine needs a patriot as its next leader)
Mar 18 04 - Ukrainian influence in the 2004 American presidential election
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