Please, Canada, Stand Up for Democracy in Ukraine
Gaskevych, Oleksandra, Winnipeg Free Press
I was born in 1991 in Kyiv, Ukraine, the same year we achieved independence. I don't remember the student Granite Revolution of 1990, I don't remember the proclaiming of independence, and I was too young to care about establishing the first constitution. But my life has been, and will always be, intertwined with my country's journey to democracy.
I grew up in an age of high expectations. We were a newly independent Ukraine, and I simply assumed that with each passing year life would get better, democracy would grow stronger.
Recently, I watched as the Supreme Court of Canada announced its decision on the contested election results in the riding of Etobicoke Centre. As an intern with the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program, it was one of the many opportunities I have had to witness the workings of the Canadian government and judicial system. To many Canadians, the fact that the court was able to rule without political interference and that both sides accepted its decision without complaint may not seem remarkable. For me, it was an inspiring moment.
Canadian democracy may have its discontents but there are certain foundational beliefs -- such as the separation of judicial and political powers -- that are deeply embedded in Canadian culture. And those beliefs appear to me to be inviolable. I dream that one day my countrymen will come to share that bedrock democratic principle.
Leading up to the Oct. 28 election, I checked Ukrainian online media every half hour. Would these elections mark another tarnished moment in Ukrainian political life? Or would the process meet international election standards and give Ukraine a reason to stand tall among the democratic countries of the world?
As a Ukrainian citizen and an aspiring journalist, I can attest that the voting at the poll in the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada went smoothly. However, as I received information about the voting in Ukraine, and the flagrant abuse of the electoral process, I was struck with a bitter truth. My government is simply uninterested in public opinion and they unabashedly neglect basic democratic processes.
Numerous violations were confirmed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Ukrainian World Congress. The deputy chairman of the Central Election Commission, Zhanna Usenk-Chorna, declared the elections "the dirtiest in the history of Ukraine. …