Ukrainian Student Watches Turmoil From Afar

Uliana Furiv follows the turmoil in Ukraine from afar.

The international student from Ukraine thinks often of her family, her friends, and her upcoming flight back home.

“I have been following the situation in Ukraine every day since November when the protests began,” said Furiv, who has spent the past year at Nebraska Wesleyan University studying education and German.

Her home country’s political divide became violent when Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych signed an agreement with Russia after President Vladimir Putin offered Ukraine $15 billion dollars in aid.

Many Ukrainians are outraged by the political move, seeing the agreement as an extension of the corruption that has plagued Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union. Protesters believe it is time for Ukraine to join the European Union (EU) to facilitate a push towards greater freedom and democracy in the country. Many Ukrainians made their voices heard by peacefully protesting at Independence Square in Kiev. Furiv’s friends were among the protesters.

But conservatives fear that joining the EU would cause an economic collapse, and instead want to strengthen ties with Russia.

The political divide became more violent in late January when Yanukovych and the Ukrainian parliament declared it illegal to protest against the government, calling the protestors dangerous extremist groups and terrorists. Police began attacking and imprisoning protesters, who refused to back down.

“The news makes me very upset,” said Furiv. “I have been following the situation in Ukraine since November when the protests started. Since then I read the news in both English and Ukraine every day.”

Furiv and the rest of Ukraine nervously await the presidential election on May 25, just days after Furiv returns home. She said she hopes things will settle down some when she returns, and she looks forward to voting.  

“I sincerely hope that Putin will back down and no longer interfere in our country’s internal business,” she said. “With the elections approaching in May, I am ready to take part in shaping Ukraine’s future and paving the way to democracy.” 

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