NEW YORK—In 1951 my grandfather immigrated to the United States, fleeing the Soviet occupation of his home country, Ukraine. He instilled in my two brothers and me a love for Ukraine and a never-ending hope that one day it would emerge from the communist totalitarian regime imposed by Moscow.
He strongly believed that, with the help of the United States and others, Ukraine would eventually claim its freedom and take its place as an equal among the other democracies in Europe.
He was right. In 1991 our family celebrated the collapse of the Soviet Union and the establishment of Ukraine as an independent state. While my grandfather has since passed away, for the past two decades we have joyfully accepted Ukraine’s democracy, not perfect under any measure, but still a democracy that allowed for the freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
However, for the past four years, under President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine has been spiraling toward totalitarianism and a return to Moscow’s clutches. Early signs of this direction came with the arrest and imprisonment of opposition leaders. Then, in November, President Yanukovych abruptly turned away from Europe, refusing to sign a widely supported trade agreement with the European Union, and instead linking Ukraine more closely – economically and politically – to Russia and Vladimir Putin.
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