I remember a trip to Ukraine in the spring of 2005, just months after the Orange Revolution shook the streets of Kyiv. Many thousands of peaceful protesters turned out during the cold winter nights of November and December, demonstrating against fraudulent elections that resulted in Viktor Yanukovych being elected president. New elections were held under the scrutiny of international observers, and sure enough, Yanukovych lost the election.
I remember doing a little shopping on a cold, but sunny, spring day, wandering along Andreyevskiy Spusk or St. Andrew’s Descent, which was a steeply inclined pedestrian area next to St. Andrew’s church. It was lined with street vendors selling all sorts of Ukrainian souvenirs.
I’d purchased a warm Ukrainian scarf to keep out the bitter winds and was poking around another booth, looking at some knick knacks—painted wooden eggs or something. A little idle chit chat with the young man minding the booth about his merchandise. And then I asked him what he thought of the Orange Revolution.
His face lit up as he told me how he’d gone to the Maidan (square where the protests were) each day. He told me the sense of camaraderie, how they’d slept in buses to keep warm. He told me about the hope the people had for a new democratic Ukraine.
He told me how proud he was to have been part of it. That he would be helping create a new Ukraine for his children, though he wasn’t even married.
I wonder where that young man is now, nine years later. Does he now have those children he was building a better future for? Is he down at the Maidan holding off Berkut troops trying to crush 2014’s peaceful protests?
Praying for Ukraine.