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Ukraine—rich in culture, art, and resources—has, since time immemo- rial, been the object of other nation’s aspirations: coveted, conquered, exploited and expropriated by neighboring countries. Thus, one ques- tion continually recurs: how has Ukraine survived?     

     In that context, Ukraine’s steps toward democracy are stronger than at first meet the eye. Not insignificantly, its recent presidential election was free and fair, despite the fact the incumbent was a billionaire. How is it that “big money” did not win the election? To answer that, we share the following insights by Andrei, a second year university student who’s written for InterestEng. for many years. After explaining the conditions surrounding the recent election, he plunges into the phenomena behind the winner’s victory, which is more than a little thought-provoking.  

THE first ballot of the election showed our current president that people were upset with him. Yet, President Poroshenko did more good than former presidents! [He is the country’s 5th president.]
     Three months before he was elected [5 years ago] Russia invaded our country and seized Crimea. That would put any new president in an incredibly difficult position, having to contend with the war while, at the same time, trying to solve our internal difficulties.  
     In addition, we have lots of private TV channels owned by oligarchs.  These continually showed our president in the worst possible light.  They hold the position that Poroshenko did things to get money for himself and take it away from the country. Yet, even if there is validity to his doing things that appeared to be in his interests, the fact is that he developed a system to monitor the flow of large monetary transactions in our country to uncover and counter the corruption of the oligarchs.            
     Although there are many “cons” about our country’s progress, 
there are “pros” that can’t be denied. For example, medical and healthcare reform, more economic stability, protection for minor- ity languages and cultures, school reforms, steps toward EU mem- bership. All this was done while needing to build up and train an army against Russian aggression. [These facts are recognized and confirmed by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.]   
     So this leads to the question of what has been influencing the masses. The most visible outcome in this election for me was how far people can be influenced by the media without knowing it.  Our elections weren’t illegally interfered with. It was done much more cleverly. A long time before the elections, a group of people created an appealing TV sitcom that decided our election.  [The sitcom—titled, Servant of the People—is about an honest, hard- working history teacher who ordinary people can easily sympa- thize with. One of the teacher’s students, using a mobile phone, secretly films him with a fellow teacher ranting about political corruption. The student puts the video on the internet.  It “goes viral” and the truth-telling history teacher becomes the country’s next president. The story is spun out, not only convincingly, but with astonishing sophistication. The TV actor was, in real life, just elected the 6th president of Ukraine.]      

     Although few in number, intelligent, thinking people (people in universities and other established organizations) voted for Poroschenko while the less informed masses believed a TV show that turned an actor—an actor, not a real person—into our next president.    
     The saddest part of our election is that the masses, those who are most upset with their lives, found it easier to believe a sitcom character than to really think. In the end, the people voted for someone who doesn’t actually exist.  
     One of my professors said it is understandable that people want
change, but it is unfortunate because the people don’t under- stand that they don’t know who they elected. They know only an actor. No one can be certain of what will happen now. —Andrei

 ©preInterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com