DSCN5494Our hearts are breaking. We have lived in Ukraine since 2001 and therefore experienced their celebration of 10 years of independence, the Orange Revolution, the disappointment and discouragement after no change in Ukraine after the revolution, and now we are literally standing with our friends on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). Well, I’m not currently there. But I have stood with the opposition during their protests. And what an honor and privilege that is.

I received an e-mail from Jim earlier today with the writings of a dear personal friend:

I do not know where to even begin (or continue?) my updates on the situation in Ukraine. From recent events: (1) we kept seeing more violent actions from our government, (2) courts are not doing their jobs any more (as if they did it before, but now judges blatantly disregard the law and serve the interests of the “family”, i.e. our president and his immediate circle of friends and relatives)… as one instance, a judge who in 2011 acquitted a worker of a court for driving over and killing a woman (mother of three kids), recently sentenced a person for 6 years in prison for alleged planning to demolish a monument to Lenin, (3) the budget that opposition has been fighting was voted for without following proper parliamentary protocol, and this budget (as just one example) increases funding of all law enforcement agencies up to $2.162 billion, which is $764 million increase since four years ago, when Yanukovich first came to power (welcome to the police state!), (4) number of legislations are enforced that prohibit (and punish) Ukrainians to collect and distribute materials that government deems “extremists”, Ukrainians cannot speak against current government as it may be perceived as defamation and punishable by law (therefore, no speaking against judges, police, etc.)…

Just came across another post on FB, which speaks loudly to these issues:

Kolisnichenko-Oliynyk Draft Law #3879 voted in by the Verkhovna Rada by MPs raising hands (!) includes (but is not limited to) the following amendments to the Criminal Code of Ukraine:

– participants of peaceful protests and demonstrations that took place without the permission of police can be arrested for up to 15 days;
– blocking of state buildings is punished by up to 5 years of imprisonment;
– cars which move in a convoy of more than 5 vehicles can be confiscated; (with driving licenses confiscated as well – AK)
– collecting personal information about policemen, judges and other state agents – such as them lying under oath, accepting bribes, etc. can lead to arrest for up to 6 months;
– NGOs that receive grants from any foreign state/fund/organization/individual and that take part in ANY kind of political activity in Ukraine are now considered “foreign agents”, must register as such; they are stripped of their non-profit status and taxed by new, complicated procedure. [translation by Iryna Lysenko]

What can I say? Welcome to dictatorship?

Please please pray fervently for the people of Ukraine — for the leadership, for the military/police, for the opposition.