ANDREW BEAM, The Troy Record
WATERVLIET, N.Y. -- A member of Ukraine’s Parliament visited the Capital District on Wednesday, pleading that the United States act against the Ukraine government in an effort to assist protesters who have fought with police forces for the last two months.
Oleh Medunytsya, a member of parliament representing the 157th district, spoke at the Ukrainian American Citizens Club (UACC) at the corner of 25th Street and 5th Ave. as part of a series of town hall meetings being held across the country to promote the revolution of the EuroMaidan protest movement against the Ukraine government. The series of meetings is scheduled to culminate at the White House in Washington, D.C., during a prayer breakfast with Pres. Barack Obama on Feb. 6.
Motivated after a mention of support from the president during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, Medunytsya spoke to members of the press on Wednesday evening with the hopes of encouraging the U.S.government to impose sanctions, such as visa restrictions and the freezing of financial assets, against members of the Ukraine government involved in taking violent actions against their own citizens.
The protest, which UACC member Roan Kaprishka said has turned more into a revolution, began after Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych went back on trade agreements made with the European Union, striking a deal with Russian President Vladmir Putin instead.
Medunystya said there has been fear of Russia wanting to include the Ukraine as one of its colonies, doing away from the independence the country gained 22 years ago.
Speaking through an interpreter, Borys Potapenko, of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Medunystya said some of the sanctions had already been imposed by the U.S. State Department. However, he added that protesters have also requested financial assets of those who have taken part in the violence against them, to assist in their fight against the Ukraine government, which now has "unlimited resources," thanks to financial aid from Russia.
"I’m here to seek the most severe sanctions possible," Medunytsya said.
Those seeking to come out from under the oppressive regime brought upon them by the Ukrainian government have taken refuge at Maian, located in the nation’s capital Kyiv. There, they have faced numerous attacks from police forces, trying to protecting themselves with only shields and protective vests. Medunytsya described one of the more memorable incidents which occurred on Dec. 11, 2013, in which police attempted to break through a barricade. There were five deaths as a result of the clash, two which came from sniper bullets, according to Medunytsya. He added that two protesters, one of whom was inured, were kidnapped and beaten on their way to a nearby hospital. The injured man was later found beaten to death, while the other managed to survive after being injured himself.
Medunytsya admitted there are some radical factions which are not associated with EuroMaidan that are also protesting against the government, which are using more violent means, throwing molotov cocktails and bricks to convey their message. Their have been condemned by EuroMaidan.
He also stated that the protests also have not gotten their fair shake in the media, with one of the television stations reporting on the revolution, Dozhd TV, being taken off the air as of Wednesday. Many other journalists have been harassed and attacked as they attempt to cover the uprising.
Kaprishka likened the situation to the American Revolution, as protesters are fighting back against becoming a colony of Russia. Medunytsya’s efforts in the U.S. have been to raise awareness about the uprising and support for those protesting against the Ukraine government.
Protesters continued to be infuriated with the government as it refuses to negotiate with EuroMaidan. Even when some volunteers in the effort have fallen either to the attacks or to the country’s cold climate, Medunytsya said there are thousands of new volunteers who are willing to take their place and fight to the bitter end.
"They are not afraid of death," Medunytsya said.