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
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.