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Dispatches from Ukraine

Inside the crisis in Ukraine

Editor’s Note: This is one of an occasional series of dispatches on the crisis in Ukraine as reported by Tetiana Ostapenko, a Ukrainian journalist with ties to Franklin County.

Nobody knows what the next day will bring. Almost everyone is upset and silent these days.

Last weekend in Kiev, people mourned the loss of the Heavenly Hundred who fought and died at Independence Square in protests before former President Yanukovych fled from the capital.

Most of the protesters were killed by snipers, who picked them off from atop buildings in downtown Kiev. A large number of people are wounded, 263 people disappeared. Nobody knows what happened to them.

Ukrainians are afraid to get any new victims and they want Russia to withdraw the troops from the country. The inhabitants of the western part of Ukraine prepare their dwellings for refugees from the East.

In our district, people donate one day of earnings to the army. Many people are ready to defeat Russia, but nevertheless our army is not so strong and well equipped as the Russian one.

The attention of everyone in Ukraine is focused on television news. Russia has tightened its grip on Crimean peninsula, in eastern regions and it seems it is threatening to invade the entire country.

In protest, people are refusing to buy Russian consumer goods. Ukrainians do not want anything from Russia. To make shopping easier, some stores have arranged Russian-made goods on special shelves under Russian flags.

Hanging in some stores are signs reading: “Sorry, the range of goods is not so large because we refuse to sell Russian ones.”

Despite Russian President Vladmir Putin’s attempts to control the country, he did one good thing. He managed to unite Ukrainians from the west and east.

Ukrainian flags and patriotic symbols are in great demand and are selling out fast.

My sister, Iryna, says more people come to her bookstore looking for books about Ukrainian history. They want to know their roots.

Many Ukrainians have relatives living in Russia who are growing tired of Russian news with its special propaganda. Ordinary people in Russia don’t want any war. Only a small group of Russians support war.

Many Russians are more concerned with work and getting paid on time.

**Tetiana Ostapenko, 53, is journalist for a weekly newspaper in Nemyriv, in western Ukraine. Ostapenko, who met Leyden resident Betsey Yetter during Yetter’s Peace Corps days, supports an independent Ukraine and wishes for closer ties with the European Union.

Recorder staff writer Kathleen McKiernan contributed to this report.

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