“Slava Ukraina! Heroim slava!” These days, Ukraine’s heroes are Euromaidan’s martyrs. Among them, 48 year old Afghanistan war veteran, Oleksandr Shcherbaniuk. He was from Chernivtsi and like many others from different regions around Ukraine he went to support the revolution in Kiev’s Independence Square. And like too many others, he was killed. Shot in the heart on February 20.
For people in Ukraine and especially for people in his home town, he is a hero: a man who fought and died defending his countrymen’s rights and freedom, his children’s future and Ukraine’s honor. That’s why thousands of co-nationals came to his wake, paying respects to his widow and two children, and thousands walked him on his final journey.
At least 77 people died in Kiev on February 20 and 21, following a short-lived truce, killed by the order of their democratically elected president. As news come from the capital, with President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing office and being dismissed by MPs on Saturday, Yulia Timoshenko released, the police having sworn allegiance to the opposition, the return to the 2004 constitution and early elections set for May 25 this year, their deaths seem not to have been in vain. Oleksandr Shcherbaniuk’s death may not have been in vain.
But the fight is not over. Euromaidan is not going home yet. With the Orange Revolution in their recent past, Ukrainians are skeptical. They do not want another revolution stolen from them. They do not want to swap the colors of politicians and end up with the same corrupted system and the same oligarchs in charge. Euromaidan is staying to oversee the establishment of a professional and fair interim government.
The crucial phase of the Ukrainian revolution is just beginning.