Parliamentary Frustration – War in Ukraine

The deputies were all dressed professionally but not everyone acted the way they looked. Voices were raised, speeches were booed and disrespected and people talked over each other. This can be excused because we are all human and our emotions take over sometimes. But what really surprised me was the lack of initiative that spread through the room as time passed like a common cold…

Parliamentary Frustration was made possible thanks to the grant I received from the Prague Freedom Foundation to report on the Ukrainian Euromaidan Revolution in March 2014.

I had never been to a parliamentary session before, and I had certain expectations. I imagined everyone being very professional and calm, working together at a brisk pace to get bills and laws passed (especially in an urgent situation like this). This was not what happened.

The deputies were all dressed professionally but not everyone acted the way they looked. Voices were raised, speeches were booed and disrespected and people talked over each other. This can be excused because we are all human and our emotions take over sometimes. But what really surprised me was the lack of initiative that spread through the room as time passed like a common cold.

I was only there for the first 6 out of 10 hours, but I saw people’s energy begin deteriorating after the first hour. When I went down for lunch 3 hours into the session, there were at least 10 deputies eating, ignoring the repeated message over the speakers asking them to “return to the room to vote on a very important matter”.

It got worse after they voted for the main matter of the day. Electing the new judges for the Constitutional Court seemed to be a secondary issue on some deputies’ minds – many just seemed to be there to promote their political parties. An hour after they cast their votes, the session leader had to announce that a technical problem had occurred with the voting process. At first, I assumed that “technical” meant that the machine counting the votes was wrong… Turns out a large number of deputies didn’t mark their ballots correctly: twenty-five of them made incorrect check-marks, whatever that means.

This caused more yelling, finger pointing and accusing those who made mistakes of sabotage. As I was leaving, deputies were being summoned once again to return to their seats to vote – but it did not start over until an expert was called forward to explain to all the deputies how to properly check off boxes on the ballot.

One outraged deputy took the mike saying that even the most elderly village-folk know how to vote, and maybe one of them should be called in to teach the esteemed politicians how to do it. This followed with the leader of the session pointing out how embarrassing and damaging this is to Ukraine. Another vote was done and finally, four judges were elected.

It was a long day for everyone. Just look at those deputies. Jokes aside, Ukraine has 450 deputies so it’s no surprise that not everyone agrees and that coming to an agreement can take a very long time. Especially at times like this when they are stressed and under more pressure and scrutiny from the public than ever before.

Originally published: https://olenakaguiukraine2014.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/parliamentary-frustration/

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
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February 18th, 2014 Witness – War in Ukraine

This evening I met with Galika Olena Ivanivna. This 62-year-old woman with the energy and spirit of a college student was standing in Mariinsky park on February 18th. That day she saw like-minded people of all ages being shot at and murdered right in front of her. She was helpless and couldn’t stop it. It’s been almost a month since and she had trouble keeping her voice steady as she spoke about what she saw. She hasn’t been back to the park or Maidan since.

February 18th Witness was made possible thanks to the grant I received from the Prague Freedom Foundation to report on the Ukrainian Euromaidan Revolution in March 2014.

This evening I met with Galika Olena Ivanivna. This 62-year-old woman with the energy and spirit of a college student was standing in Mariinsky park on February 18th. With a Russian mother and Ukrainian father, Galika did not feel patriotic about Ukraine until the Orange Revolution in 2004. Like the other protestors, she was sick of the government robbing the people who work hard every day.

That day she saw like-minded people of all ages being shot at and murdered right in front of her. She was helpless and couldn’t stop it. It’s been almost a month since and she had trouble keeping her voice steady as she spoke about what she saw. She hasn’t been back to the park or Maidan since.

Before the violence started, she described being at Maidan as “being in a different world where everything was perfect.” There was a sense of unison between the protesters, who were joined together by a common goal of “protecting the people, the future and democracy.” The protesters at Maidan would work together to keep the square safe from pickpockets and those who wished them harm. Every Sunday when the priests would come to lead prayer, they would gather together and make the area spotless and clean. “After leaving Maidan one would feel pumped with so much positive energy.”

She is concerned with the future of Ukraine but insists that “Crimea will be ours.” She is not sure who the future president will be, and she isn’t sure that Ukraine is ready to make that decision just yet. But she is certain that Maidan has now changed how people think and see the government. According to her, they will not step down until a worthy and fair leader is governing the country that so many had died to keep sovereign and free.

Originally posted here: https://olenakaguiukraine2014.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/feb-18th-witness/

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.

Warning, graphic images: