University professor has ties to Ukraine

Twenty-three years after moving to the U.S. from Ukraine, Professor Michael Kalinski has watched his home country suffer through the eyes of his daughter.

His daughter, Lesya Kalinski, a filmmaker based in New York, traveled to Ukraine and has documented the uprising, protesting and massacres happening in their home country.

Michael Kalinski said the protests are due to more than 400 years of Russian oppression.

“For about two years or so, President Yanukovych was telling the world that Ukraine was going to sign an agreement with the European Union,” he said. “Then, he met with President Putin of Russia, and Putin forced Yanukovych to change his mind.”

Kalinski said Yanukovych’s change in mind is due to Putin’s imperialistic mindset and inability to see Ukraine as a country of its own, even though it was declared an independent country in 1991.

The protests of the rejection of the agreement started peacefully.

However, 84 Ukrainians were killed by government forces, and those forces saw journalists and filmmakers such as Lesya as a main target.

“She spent these three months filming the Ukrainian revolution, risking her life every day,” Kalinski said of his daughter. “The journalists and filmmakers and anyone with a camera were target number one of the police. That she and her crew members are alive is a miracle.”

Kalinski said his daughter’s decision to go to Ukraine was partially because of­­ her experience in its “Hunger Strike” during the 1990s.

“She has always known of the dictatorial nature of the country,” he said. “And she is a long term Ukrainian patriot who wants Ukraine to be independent.”

Lesya said her strong conviction to Ukraine’s independence is more than life-threatening, but has other dangers.

“They have determination and to overcome this, you have to have a very strong spirit,” Lesya said. “And when bullets were flying, Lesya emailed me, and she said that nobody had fear. It was mass heroism. It was unbelievable, and no one was afraid to die.”

 

Story by Mary Bradley, Staff writer