A Ukranian Anecdote

I’ve had a few conversations with my former coworker who lives in Skokie. His mother was a Russian Jew who fled Ukraine and came to America. He was born here shortly after the end of WW2. His family still owns property there. He decided at some point to go back and find a bride. He wound up marrying a woman who already had two children. She moved to America and subsequently died of cancer – leaving him responsible for a pajama boy stepson.

In passing, he mentioned several times that he has been to Independence Square in Kiev a lot and knows it well. I asked him “Independence from whom?”. He was floored. He realized he didn’t know. He later talked to his step daughter who still lives in Ukraine. She says she doesn’t know either – and people who live there don’t really call it that. I understand why. She’s a Russian, and it celebrates Ukranian independence from Russian control.

The name was attached to it after the 2004 “orange” revolution in which a disputed election brought people into the streets to prevent Viktor Yanukovych from taking office. A revote was held and the result overturned.

But 5 years later, in 2010 Viktor Yanukovych was freely elected as leader of Ukraine, with the agreement of international observers. He’s the man the Ukranians just booted out of office and went to Russia for help.

Despite my friend personally seeing that the Ukranians resent the Russian control on their country and that many Russians refuse to learn or speak Ukranian, he denies that this has anything to do with the current situation.

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