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Monday, November 29, 2004

 

Letters to the Telegraph

Ukraine needs support to right past wrongs


Sir – During the past decade, the economic conditions in Ukraine deteriorated significantly, with many people surviving on less than £50 a month. The savings of many pensioners were wiped out by inflation, leaving them with almost no means of survival. Many have lost any hope in future.

The people of Ukraine thought that the only way they could change their lives was by voting – and this fundamental right has been taken away from them. The issue in Ukraine is much bigger than the presidency of a particular candidate: it is the issue for which many British people struggled and died over many centuries, the right to vote and to free and fair elections.

Britain now has a chance to help a struggling country to become a stable and prosperous democracy, and this window of opportunity might last only a few more days.

Alexander Orlov, Cambridge University Ukrainian Society, Trinity Hall, Cambridge

Sir - In supporting Ukraine now, western Europe has an opportunity to right one of the great wrongs of 20th-century history.

The West stood aside in the 1930s as Stalinist Russia exploited Ukraine's resources and exterminated millions. At the end of the war, the allies conspired to send Ukrainian nationalists who had fought with them back to Russia and certain death.

Now this country has an opportunity to build a new future and share its riches with its own people. It will do so only if we match political support now with clear economic, social and cultural support in the future. This is a pivotal moment when the West must not only speak the rhetoric of democracy, but also offer the hand of friendship and economic aid. Support now will pay future dividends: Ukraine is rich in resources - raw materials, agriculture and, above all, its people.

As a gesture of support, my school will offer 50 per cent bursaries to Ukrainian sixth formers who can find sponsorship for the remaining 50 per cent of fees, and accommodation with the Manchester community. I hope that other schools will offer support. Ukraine needs a developing middle class with business and language skills and entrepreneurial expertise. Surely some of our universities could also offer such places? And European business interests need to find the vision to offer sponsorship.

This is not only a time of trial for Ukraine, it is also a time of trial for the whole of Europe. This time we must not fail.

Steve Patriarca, Headmaster, William Hulme's Grammar School, Manchester

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