As we watch battles unfold across Ukraine, I am thinking back today on my first trip to Kyiv in 2011.
Kyiv, Ukraine Photo Essay
My colleague from Star Alliance and I took a weekend trip to Kyiv in July 2011, flying Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Ukraine’s capital city. We spent the weekend at the Hyatt Regency and enjoyed a great two days exploring this ancient city.
One thing that struck me then was the Soviet influence throughout the city…it was unmistakable in terms of monuments, statues, and the city’s complex and ornate Metro system.
A statue of Lenin adorned a central position in Kyiv, but was toppled in 2013 during events known as Euromaidan, a period in which the people rebelled against the government after it opted to turn toward Russia instead of Europe (a precursor to what we are seeing today). Corrupt President Viktor Yanukovych violently crushed the civil unrest, but that sparked a revolution and the overthrow of Yanukovych in February 2014. While the Maidan Revolution represented a strong repudiation of Moscow, the events this week have shown that Russia has not abandoned its determination to exercise influence in the former Soviet republic.
Since 2015, all monuments connected with communist themes are now illegal in Ukraine; I’d imagine Kyiv looks quite different today than my last visit. Even so, it merits mentioning that despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s one-hour diatribe on how Ukraine is not really a country (I read the entire transcript and was thoroughly unconvinced) and the unmistakable links to Russia I personally observed, the people of Ukraine declared independence and even overthrew a corrupt pro-Moscow government in 2014, a fact that Putin conveniently left out of his narrative.
On a more serious note, I have friends and friends of friends who are currently in Ukraine. Let us soberly reflect upon this conflict and may all people of good will call upon Russia to abandon its aggression.