A woman involved in Hopkins’ sister city partnership with the Ukrainian city of Boryspil is organizing a demonstration in St. Paul to show support for the embattled protestors in the country’s capital.
“Basically, I’m in agony, I’m in pain, for what is going on in Ukraine right now,” said Natalia Krasnobaieva, a Fulbright Scholar Award recipient.
Just a couple weeks after delegates from Hopkins’ sister city visited Minnesota, thousands of Ukrainians continue to protest in Kiev’s Independence Square over what is widely viewed as the government’s move to distance itself from the West.
(Full disclosure: One of the sister city delegates stayed in the author’s home during the visit.)
Kiev had been expected to sign a political and trade agreement with the European Union but suspended talks last month, citing Russia's opposition to the agreement and the possibility that Russia might impose trade sanctions and steep gas bills.
The dispute reflects a broader debate in the country over whether it should orient itself toward Russia or Europe.
Demonstrations began Nov. 22, but they remained peaceful until riot police on Saturday dispersed several hundred protestors with truncheons and bursts of tear gas.
Krasnobaieva said the Minnesota demonstration isn’t about the politics that led to the Ukrainian protests—it’s a demonstration against the government’s attempt to stop people from peacefully protesting.
“Our purpose is to raise awareness about the true situation in Ukraine,” she said. “My main thing is I’m against persecution of democratic values and true freedom of expression.”
The group of Minnesota organizers is still finalizing the details, but they plan on demonstrating at the Capitol from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They’re welcoming anyone who wants to join them in solidarity.
They plan to send photos to protest organizers in Kiev to let them know their countrymen across the globe are thinking of them.
“I know that so many other Ukrainians around the world, they also went out with demonstrations,” Krasnobaieva said.