Newspaper article International New York Times

A Vote for Ukrainian Freedom

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Vote for Ukrainian Freedom

Article excerpt

If we are to foil Putin's plan to subjugate our country, the success of this election is vital.

Holding an election amid threats of invasion and sabotage by fifth-column separatists is the most severe test a democracy can endure. But as President Abraham Lincoln said, facing re-election in 1864 while America's Civil War still raged, "We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forgo, or postpone, a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us."

Like Lincoln, we Ukrainians are resolved to go to the polls to choose a new president, in defiance of every threat. We will not grant victory to those who would discredit and dismember our country by allowing the May 25 vote to be canceled. Our election must go ahead if only to prove that the 100 and more men and women who died for our liberty in the protests around Maidan, Kiev's Independence Square, did not die in vain.

We will brave every obstacle to vote, for we are determined to confound President Vladimir V. Putin's efforts to transform our democratic country into a Russian vassal state.

No one should doubt that Mr. Putin's primary aim is to hollow out our democracy. But Americans, and free people everywhere, must not be deceived by Russia's aggression, or by Mr. Putin's current peace offensive.

The separatist cause fomented by Russia would never win on its merits in any free and fair vote of Ukrainians, as a recent Pew Research Center poll has confirmed. Russia's separatist mafia can win only sham elections of the type that Mr. Putin has imposed on Russia since he came to power 14 years ago, and which he recently forced upon our fellow citizens, now hostages, in Crimea.

The lie Mr. Putin is peddling is that Slavs constitute a special culture that requires the rule of a strong man, and that European and democratic ideals, and the tolerance of minorities that comes with them, are antipathetic to that culture. The best possible rebuke to that falsehood is a successful Ukrainian democracy linked to Europe.

Ukraine's liberty is a mortal threat to the authoritarian, state- capitalist system that Mr. …

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