Editor's Note: The following is a statement posted on the website of Ukraine''s jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko in which she addresses citizens on the occasion of Independence Day, celebrated on Aug. 24, and urges them to topple what she described as President Viktor Yanukovych's dicatorship.
My Dear Ukrainians!
Today our Homeland turns 21…21 years of independence, 21 years of victories and mistakes, ups and downs. This is the age when childhood ends and adulthood begins. 21 is the age when you stop relying on your parents or anyone else and it becomes dangerous to act recklessly. All you have is independence, responsibility and determination. And you have to know how to cope with this independence.
In psychology there is something called a mid-twenties crisis. It’s when you want to become the best and most successful. But it doesn’t happen on the first attempt.
If all was well, Ukraine would be going through this natural crisis of positive perfectionism that is characteristic of this age – it would want to be successful, beautiful, victorious, amaze the world, build modern plans – and we could all rest easy knowing it is on a reliable strategic path.
But we all know that this isn’t the case, that they want to artificially age our entire nation. They’re taking away our hopes, extinguishing our dreams, stamping out our long drawn positive path.
I want to ask you today, regardless of your party affiliation or apolitical position: are you willing to accept this disgraceful development of our national history? Are you willing to swallow all of this and continue to live with it, regardless of whether you live in the East or West, North of South of Ukraine? I don’t want to believe that the answer to this question is "YES"! And if someone is willing to, then for what? For posts, for proximity to the feeder, for the latest promises from the mafia, for handouts before the elections?
It’s not worth it. I refuse to believe that proud Ukrainians have replaced honor and dignity with their stomach and intelligence and wisdom have been eliminated by propaganda and linguistic adventurism. I know that you’re not like this. I know that you’re different, that you’re real. You’re just a little tired of the political disappointment and deception.
Classical literature, which can cause our government intellectuals to confuse Balzac with balsam, provides important lessons. The protagonist of The Magic Skin, as we recall, died of phthisis, having sucked out of his talisman – a magic piece of shagreen – all vitality. He became fabulously wealthy, had a magnificent ‘mezhyhirya’ and unlimited possibilities. But there is a heavy price to pay for everything obtained in such a disgraceful way. We are like this shagreen – being sucked of our national energy.
I want us together to leave no chance for those sucking Ukraine of its hope, dreams and aspirations. Do you hear me?! Not just the opposition, not just the democratic world, but everyone, I repeat – everyone! must make a super effort to prevent Ukraine from falling into the hands of dictatorship. Make the effort not for politicians or someone you don’t know – but for yourself!
I know. I know for certain from personal experience that making dangerous but right decisions is very difficult. There are many circumstances and obstacles. There are many risks for you and your family. But despite all this, everyone should take an important step. Only you can make an informed choice of whose side you’re on: your side, your family’s side, your country’s side or the side of the mafia.
Find the strength to make the correct choice! We are a people for whom the road to independence was long. Did we achieve it so that we could then lose this treasure so ineptly? Who will we be then? Will we have the right to basic respect from future generations?
Stand up to fight! Nobody, right now, has the right to strife, conflict, opportunism, being ‘against all’. No responsible person has the right to be neutral. On one side is Ukraine – its success, life, beauty and victory. On the other side is the mafia that has taken everyone’s country and peaceful family life. It doesn’t matter what form of battle you choose. Act independently or with a team, openly or confidentially. Just act! Because, first and foremost, you are defending yourself and your family. This is not the opposition’s battle against the regime. This is a battle between all smart and strong people and absolute evil, which is growing and becoming stronger.
There’s just one thing you shouldn’t do on the 21st year of our independence – don’t leave a young country alone with kleptocracy, occupiers, dictators, don’t give yourself the right to conform to their level of immorality, don’t get scared, don’t betray yourself and your country.
I’m convinced that if we understand this, Ukraine will return to a positive path, restore justice, find a place for every child in their own land. Ukraine will survive all the age crises and with every year become more successful, prosperous, democratic and European.
On your birthday, I wish you, my Ukraine, to straighten your shoulders, breath deeply and let the faith and hope that was ripped from you after the Orange Revolution into your soul. I know that the wounds are still sore from the cynical betrayals of that time, but you have to let them heal and recover slowly. Get back to the fight, which means get back to life.
I believe in each of you. I believe that you will find the strength and wisdom, that you will rise to attack, and not hide in the trenches with conveniences and food from the enemy. It will be more difficult than ever. Some believe that our battle is already lost, but it is still in your hands. Everything can be changed.
Win! Win, my Ukraine! Happy Birthday!
Always your Yulia Tymoshenko pm Kharkiv prison