Yesterday, as Ukrainians continued to protest recent presidential runoff election results in Kiev’s Independence Square, members of Cornell’s Ukrainian Club rallied on Ho Plaza. Club members, several of whom wore traditional Ukrainian clothing, passed out information, quarter cards and ribbons to passersby.
Organizers Larissa Paschyn ’07 and Renia Soluk ’07 stressed the event’s nonpartisan purpose: to educate Americans about allegations of corruption surrounding the Nov. 21 election.
“It’s a rally to spread awareness about the elections in Ukraine,” Soluk said.
After state-run media outlets announced Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich’s victory in the runoff, supporters of opposition candidate Viktor A. Yushchenko took to the streets. They allege that widespread corruption and voter intimidation invalidated the election results. Earlier this week, Yanukovich’s government lost a no-confidence vote in Ukraine’s parliament.
The two candidates hold different visions for Ukraine’s future. Yanukovich, a close ally of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, favors strengthening his country’s relationship with Russia. Yushchenko, alternatively, has expressed an interest in greater Westernization and membership in the European Union.
While Cornell’s Ukrainian Club has not endorsed either candidate officially, several students among its membership showed their support for Yushchenko at the rally by wearing orange scarves. Orange is the color of Yushchenko’s party, Our Ukraine.
Twice between noon and 1:30 p.m., Paschyn stepped up to the podium adjacent to her organization’s well-decorated table and delivered a speech in which she called upon her peers to educate themselves about the election aftermath.
“This is not about nationalism, this is about nation-building,” Paschyn said. “This is not just about our community at Cornell, nor only about the international community of Ukrainians, but also about the global community of democracies whose security relies on the proliferation of truly democratic governments throughout the world.”
Many students, theretofore passively collecting quarter cards en route to lunch or class, paused and listened to Paschyn fulminate against election fraud. Several individuals affixed blue and yellow ribbons to their lapels.
“The notion of democracy is being challenged once again in Eastern Europe,” Paschyn said. “As a democratic nation who believes in democracy, it is our duty to help and support democracy in the region.”
Archived article by David Austin Gura
Sun Senior Writer