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You're reading: Lack of values undermines Ukraine

These two anniversaries are
historically intertwined. It was on Aug. 24, 1991, that Ukraine’s parliament,
the Verkhovna Rada, declared independence pending the results of a popular
referendum, following the failed hard-line coup in Moscow. And it was six days
later – on Aug. 30, 1991, during the National Opening Ceremonies for the
Centennial of Ukrainians in Canada, that then-Canadian Prime Minister Brian
Mulroney pledged to recognize an independent Ukraine if that’s what the people
of Ukraine voted for.

They did with an overwhelming 91 percent in
favor and Mulroney delivered. Canada became the first Western country and the
second in the world to recognize Ukraine as an independent state.

But 21
years later, the euphoria that accompanied those heady days of expectation is
long gone, replaced not only by deep disappointment, but even despair as to how
events have unfolded in Ukraine. And never has such despair been more prevalent
than under the current regime. Its latest crime against the Ukrainian people
has been the signing by President Viktor Yanukovych of the language law which
denigrates the status of Ukrainian, under the guise of protecting “minority
rights.” Just how hollow this claim is was very aptly demonstrated when Kurt
Volleback, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s High
Commissioner on National Minorities, declared this law “deeply divisive” with
“the disproportionate favoring of the Russian language, while also removing
most incentives for learning or using Ukrainian in large parts of the country.”

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