It seems that all is not well in Ukraine after my last post, “Twenty Years in the Making and Still Waiting.” One reader took issue with it. To the point of calling my friend a liar and it was not true one cannot enter the Rada. So in the spirit of fairness and goodwill I would like to share my reader’s comment with you. I have only edited out the name of the company he works.
“Randy, your friend is a liar. I’ve been there just a few days ago. This “bigger” fence surrounds the Mariinsky park, it has nothing to do with “separating people from the regime”. You can still walk (stand, protest) between the park’s fence and the “smaller” fence.
I tell you more – even this is not true that you cannot enter the Rada building. Of course, there is a security at the door, as in any big governmental buildings across the globe, but some agencies do organize excursions there, esp. for students. My colleague from XXXXXXX just discussed your article yesterday; he was inside the Rada with his university group there some years ago.”
It looks like my opinion about this fence requires explanation. First of all, if the bigger fence wasn’t built to “separating people from the regime” why was it built? Was it erected purely for decoration? Even as a child I understood why my father built barb wire fences around his property. It was to keep our livestock in and our neighbors out.
Can anyone explain the reason why the government decided to build the fence at all and why so close to the 20th Anniversary of Independence? The writer doesn’t deny the existence of a new fence. In fact he went there in person to see it for himself. Apparently, the bigger higher fence didn’t bother or concern him as it did my friend.
I am old enough to remember why the wall in Berlin was built. I am pretty certain not too many thought it was built for decoration. Its purpose was very specific. It was to keep people from escaping to the West, not to prevent people wanting to flee to the East.
Yes, I am certain people are able to go inside the Rada under circumstances very similar to those of his colleague who was admitted as part of a group of university students some years ago. However, it would be interesting to read stories from individuals who have been allowed to go through security on their own and observe freely the working of the Deputies while sitting in the gallery or touring the building to see all the historical treasures that must be there and get their impressions.
I remember how moving it was for me to walk through my state house in Montana as a young man for the first time and later meeting my governor in his office. My visit to the capitol building in Washington, D.C. with a friend left me with goose bumps. It filled me with pride and patriotism. I could literally sense, taste and smell the freedom in the air as I freely walked through the halls of the government, a government of the people, by the people and for the people. I sat in the same chairs my elected representatives did. I stood in the wells of both the house and senate and basked in the glow of all the men and women who gave their lives so I could experience this unforgettable moment in time born a free man where I know I am free.
I don’t believe a person is really free when they can’t visit the halls of their elected government without applying to some agency for permission. As I said earlier, “Fences and walls have a specific purpose.” They serve to separate government from the people. That is why there are no fences around the capitol building in Washington, D.C. or the 50 state capitol buildings. “We the People” have had the right to visit our institutions without first having to obtain permission for the past 235 years.
The same is true about being able to talk with any of my elected local, state, federal or appointed officials in person to express my opinion openly concerning legislation or how I felt they were doing their job.
When I was mayor of a small city my constituents always knew they came first and could contact me at any hour night or day to talk with me because my home phone number was listed in the phone directory. In an early post I talked about how I met my Ambassador to Ukraine at the opera in Kyiv. http://www.yolkstar.com/blog/2010/07/phantom-of-the-opera/
I would like to close by relating a story my wife and I experienced. We were downtown visiting the Denver Art Museum one Saturday and I decided to show her the capitol building for the state of Colorado. It was a short walk away from the museum. We were stopped numerous times by groups of people who were part of a contest to see which group could talked with people from all the 50 states. The first group to do so would be declared the winner. The game was being played all around the capitol building, including the main steps to the capitol’s main entry. Of course, I told them we were from Ukraine.
My wife was amazed when she read signs inviting visitors to come during working hours Monday through Friday to tour the building. As we walked around the grounds freely, we didn’t see any guards or fences as we were taking pictures. What really surprised my wife was a small rock monument devoted to the Armenian Genocide of 1915 on the grounds of the Colorado State Capitol. This isn’t something too many countries in Europe might have.
I invite you to share your comments and impressions.