Average Ukrainians concerned, protests not over

By January 29, 2014
View from Maidan Square following the the anti-protest laws were rescinded.

Ukraine (MNN) — While Ukraine’s prime minister has resigned and parts of the anti-protesting laws have been rescinded, Ukraine is not out of the woods yet. Opposition leaders are still demanding that President Vikhtor Yanukovych resign and new elections be scheduled. This unrest is is leaving the average Ukrainian concerned. That, in turn, is creating prime conditions for human trafficking.

View from Maidan Square following the the anti-protest laws were rescinded.

View from Maidan Square following the the anti-protest laws were rescinded.

Amy Richey with EFCA ReachGlobal says political situations create this condition because young people just want out of the country. “When there’s frustration over my current situation and I don’t know what to do or how to respond, and there’s someone who’s telling me if I go to Italy with them, they’ll let me go to a great school so that I can learn how to work in a salon, I believe them even that much faster.”

What’s creating that response? We asked an average 20-something Ukrainian, Svyeta, who works in Kiev. What is it like living in Ukraine today?

“[The protests] have been maintained to the same geographic area for most of the time. The protests are going on in the middle of the capital called Maidan. So, unless you work or live close to Maidan, you really don’t see a lot of protests or riots or anything like that.”

That changed over the weekend as protests spread across the country. Svyeta says her company decided they should stay home this week. “We’re just trying to maintain the regular business environment, but doing it from remote locations.”

Many young Ukrainians like Svyeta have been a-political. But, this situation has changed that. While many weren’t that concerned about the country’s decision not to be aligned with the European Union, enacting anti-protesting laws was the tipping point. “It means that the government has taken active steps in order to prevent the exercise of some of the basic freedoms that we have, like freedom of speech, or freedom of assembly. And that’s really not okay.”

Svyeta says she’s not a spectator any more. “I have become more active and at least paying attention to what’s going on and trying to let my foreign friends know the situation.”

Rumors continue flying around the country. One rumor is that Russians have been called in to help stem the violence. Kidnapping is the one rumor┬áSvyeta is most concerned about. “My understanding right now is that about 90 people are missing. The list keeps growing. Another report [is about] the people who actually report to the hospital with any kind of trauma that could have happened during the opposition: those people have been taken out of the hospital.”

Svyeta says the young people seem to support the opposition, while the old support the government. The older generation, says Svyeta, is basing their position on years of experience saying, “Sometimes you just have to wait and see what happens because today you see one regime in power, and then the next day something might change completely. So, they’re just waiting.”

The waiting is creating a sense of uncertainty and disillusionment with their government. Richey says, “Our hope is not in who will take over in Ukraine. We continue to point students toward a relationship with Christ because that is who we find rest in.”

Ukraine is one of the top recruiting countries for women victimized by human traffickers. ReachGlobal’s human trafficking ministry needs your financial support and prayers.

Click here to listen to the interview with Amy Richey.

Click here to listen to the interview with Svyeta.

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