Lithuania is an example and inspiration for Ukraine, says activist

Jonas Ohman
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Changes in Ukraine are impossible without help from Lithuania and other countries that understand the post-Soviet countries, says activist Jonas Ohman.

His NGO, Blue/Yellow, has been working to help Ukraine, including collecting funds to be sent to the Ukrainian army.

Mr. Ohman, who is originally from Sweden, said that the biggest problem in Ukraine currently is corruption, which has become a way of life in Ukraine.

“The main question is whether Europe wants to be involved in Ukraine’s affairs. If yes, the main problem is not the war, but the society itself. To make a change, the society needs to be redesigned,” said Ohman.

“To my mind, the West should be exerting much more pressure on the Ukrainian government and politicians. The question is how much the current reforms are to do with genuine willingness to change, and how much it is about imitation. I sometimes think that some things are just imitation,” said Ohman.

He noted that there was one essential difference between the Maidan revolution in Ukraine and Lithuania’s 1990 secession from the USSR, which is that in Lithuania the formal government and the people went hand in hand and there was even a consensus among various leaders, while in Ukraine it was never so, there was an antagonism between people and the government.

“When talking about the old Western countries, they do not really understand the processes that are now taking place in Ukraine. Their history of statehood dates back for centuries, so they have forgotten and no longer understand many things. Lithuanians can speak both with the West and with the ex-Soviet countries. Both directly – in English and Russian, and in terms of psychological and cultural issues,” said Ohman.

Historical ties are also helpful, as Ukraine was once part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Ukrainians remember the period fondly.

“I think that Lithuania to Ukraine is like Iceland to Lithuania – a small country that gives a decisive impulse. Both through its state aid and through non-governmental organizations and through common pro-Ukrainian mood in the society. Through such activities Ukrainians receive a clear signal that they are going the right way,” said Ohman.

“The Lithuanian case is a remarkable success story. The Russian Empire and the Soviets had almost wiped out Lithuanians, but the country came through in such a desperate situation, and has developed a successful state. Clearly, there is room for improvement, but today Lithuania is a NATO and an EU member, providing support to Ukraine. it is a great example and inspiration for Ukrainians,” said Jonas Ohman.

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