Project: The Colors of Revolution

Changes in Ukraine leave some behind

by Thaddeus McCleary

Administrative offices in Kyiv.
Administrative offices in Kyiv.

Though the changes in Ukraine since 1991 have slowly secured freedom, promises of a higher quality of life have not been realized by many citizens. While many agree that the direction of their nation towards free market capitalism and democracy could result in more opportunities, some are seeing changes for the worse.

Perhaps the most difficult experiences have been of those who were in secure positions in Soviet Ukraine. Nicolai Bezkrovayn worked in a missile factory outside Dnepropetrovsk for the Soviet Union in a high paying position. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Nicolai lost the salary along with his secure pension. “Today, my government pension is only $103 per month….When utilities are 80% of my pension, how can we afford new products?” helplessly questioned Nicolai.

Yanislava Goncharenko
Yanislava Goncharenko, doctoral candidate at
Odessa State Economics University.

For those involved in government administration, what some called ‘victory’ when Yushchenko was sworn in as president was only unemployment. Yanislava Goncharenko is a doctoral candidate at the Odessa State Economics University. While beginning research in tourism, she decided to take an internship in the Ministry of Commerce, drawing plans to renovate historical areas of Ukraine. Even though she was just an intern, she and everyone she knew from the office were replaced in a single day.

“Yushchenko replaced experienced workers with unqualified people just because they had helped him,” suggested Yanislava.

Approval ratings for president Yushchenko have consistently dropped as his term continues. During campaigning in 2004, citizens believed that Yushchenko would make quick changes for the people, alleviating government regulation and setting Ukraine on a course to economic development. Today, many feel that the president has not yet made the big changes he promised to make.

Development in Ukraine is clear to see as buildings are modernized and technology is more available; however, many do not come back home to a better life than what they have always known. For the defeated in Ukraine, the change of emblems and flags has not indicated the lives they had been led to expect.