Urkaine conflict close to home for Cotter senior


Cotter is blessed to have students from all over the world come to study at the school. For the past two years  a student from Russia, Nikita Budkov, has been attending Cotter.

With the situation in Ukraine creating tension between the US and Russia, Budkov has been reading news releases from both sides and enlightening the Cotter community about what is really going on in Ukraine.

The conflicts in Ukraine actually started in 2004 with the Orange Revolution, which was a riot started over the presidential election in Ukraine. This election was said to have been rigged by the military and put Viktor Yushchenko as the president over his opponent Viktor Yanukovych. A rerun election proved that Yushchenko had indeed beat Yanukovych.

Budkov, like many in his home region, was unimpressed with either candidate. “Yanukovych is a political prostitute and Yushchenko was just useless,” Budkov said.

Six years pass and the 2010 presidential elections again see Yanukovych running for president, only this time, Yanukovych wins in a far election.

In Nov. 2013, Yanukovych’s journey to being the internationally wanted man he is today began. Yanukovych rejected joining the EU in favor of closer ties to Russia. Russia also gave the Ukraine a substantial loan bailout.

“Ukraine’s whole economy is reliant on Russia, the EU deal would destroy them.”

Peaceful riots start in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, from pro-EU protesters.

“These protesters were being paid by ranking EU officials $100 a day to protest in the square,” Budkov asserts, showing his suspicion of some elements within the Ukraine.

After month of protesting, the pro-EU rebels were attacked with lethal weapons. Over 80 people were killed, both sides combined. The protesters hadn’t been peaceful before this attack, they got into fist fights with police, through rock, and even sprayed the police with water during the winter with the intention of having it freeze to the police, but this attack of lethal force got attention from around the world.

After that attack, the rebels were able to take a lot of ground in Kiev. And soon after that, Yanukovych fled the country and went to Russia. The parliament in Ukraine voted to have a new election in Ukraine in the spring; however, the Ukrainian constitution does not have a presidential impeachment clause. So Yanukovych is still legally acting president.

“After the Orange Revolution, Ukraine had a new constitution written. The parliament also took most of the power away from president because Yanukovych was useless,” Budkov explains. “When Yanukovych was elected, the power was taken away from parliament and given back to the president.”

So when the Russian troops moved into Crimea, Russia was able to make the claim that they were only acting on a request for help from their ally Ukraine’s president Yanukovych.

This act of moving troops has received global scrutiny and created tension between US and Ukraine. Where they EU’s standing on the whole situation is that Ukraine should decide what it wants to do, not every country is agreeing with them.

There have been threats made by the US to impose sanctions on Russia and many wealthy Russians. These threats were countered by a threat from China to demand their loans be paid back immediately if the US did apply sanctions. It is hard to tell what is just talk and what is a legitimate threat.

Budkov is not willing to publically share his views of Putin, but will say he is in favor for the current situation in Ukraine.

“The protesters who I did agree with are gone now,” Budkov said. “The ones now are extremist groups that are not for the good of Ukraine.”

Putin has not technically broken any international law yet because nobody has been killed and Yanukovych is still president. Crimea’s voting to succeed from Ukraine is not being honored by many countries around the world who are saying that the only real voting going on in Ukraine is the presidential vote happening in May.

Being a Russian in America, Budkov has the advantage to see all sides of the news being released about Ukraine. He been reading from German, British, Ukrainian, American, and Russian news sources, and found that the most inaccurate are ones from America and Russia.

“CNN has been doing a good job reporting, but Fox and NBC are really off. The BBC is doing well, as is Der Spiegel.”

Budkov sees the biggest issue with the conflicts right now is how will it affect the economy in Russia. His father, who is mayor of a small suburb of Moscow, has told him that he is should the economy will be fine, though it is a worry among most Russians.

“I was afraid that I would have to be sent home,” Budkov said. “I like all the people here, and it’s not my fault or their fault Russia and US are fighting.”