09.12.2001 | E. Zakharov, Kharkiv

What will they take from us tomorrow? And what shall we give them next?


I am writing these lines on 16 April at noon. The radio has just informed us that the all-Ukrainian referendum is valid: 54% of voters have already come to voting stations. That is on the whole Ukraine. As to the Kharkiv oblast — about 40% have come to vote before yesterday. The highest proportion of those who already voted is in student hostels and military barracks.

The doorbell is buzzing. A young woman says that she is a member of the local voting commission. Why have not you come to vote? I answer that I do not want to participate in this farce. ‘Because of such people as you we have a low percent and will have troubles at our jobs. Is it so difficult to come to the station?’ She went away, I see her to the door and meet my neighbor, a schoolteacher. She has just come from the far away district, where her school is situated. By headmaster’s order she went around flats where her pupils live and checked if all the parents had voted. Ten days ago she held a parents’ meeting and all these ten days she had to report how many parents had already voted. ‘When my boss learned that very few parents voted, he was hysterical. And in the neighboring school schoolbags were taken from pupils>The pupils were told that the bags would be given back to those whose parents voted. And the oblast school administration made special lists of teachers and check, check, check’.

An acquaintance phoned. She is a philosopher, very soon will be a doctor of philosophy, spent a year on probation in the USA. ‘You are a right protection group, after all! Protect us! It is shocking: they demand me to vote and bring a written confirmation!’ I said: ‘Write a complaint and bring it to our group. Then we shall have a basis to start the complaint on the abuse of law’. — ‘No, that is too much for me. I refused to vote and said about this to the head of my department. That is all I can do’.

Ten days we have been receiving such telephone calls in the office. Teachers, medical doctors, students, officers of communal services and many other workers who are paid from the state budget phoned. All say more or less the same, though in different words. What is identical is the phrase: ‘Please, do not mention my name’. Everybody understands that the happening of the referendum is very far from being free. Many sabotaged the voting, but almost nobody decided to protest openly.

On 14 April a poetical concert was held by Marlena Rakhlina in the city lecture hall. She once was ‘published’ in samizdat . When she was asked to read some well-known samizdat verses, she read a desperate poem, which finished with the words:

What will they take from us tomorrow?

What shall we give them next?

The hall applauded. These words are not less actual now than in middle 70s. The banner is not red now, it is blue-yellow. But the mutual relations of individuals and the state have returned to the former counterposition: WE — THEY. THEY coerce us to behave, WE must obey. THEY want to drive us to market relations, WE must survive economic reforms. THEY do not believe that WE can organize our lives ourselves. An open society is a society of free people, independent of the state, first of all, economically. Such actions of the authorities increase the dependence on the state. In the more active proportion of the population they increase the desire to emigrate. I think that all these hysterics will not result in any positive changes.

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