Jenn Chopyk says it's all about corruption and greed

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - From left, Eveline, Bogdan, Elijah and Jenn Chopyk.As Secretary of State John Kerry continues to meet with the Russian foreign minister this week on ways to defuse the Ukraine crisis — “one of the most serious East-West confrontations since the Cold War,” according to the New York Times — Jenn Chopyk is watching closely from afar.

Chopyk, 26, left her native Ukraine with her family and came to the United States when she was 17. She says the basis of the conflict is corruption by both the Russian government and the former Ukrainian leaders.

“We are all rooting for the transformation of the government because it's been long enough, the mess,” she said. “The way they are ripping off the Ukrainian poor people for the money, it's just been long enough.”

Chopyk claims that the former administration of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych was selling off Ukrainian assets.

“Ukraine is over-rich in natural resources, the earth is so rich for farming, and it has coal and gas and oil,” she said. “It can support itself. But they're selling it off to Czechoslovakia and Hungary and Russia for money.”

She's concerned for the people who are demonstrating, but she says it's all about controlling those natural riches.

“I'm a bit concerned for the people who are on strike and how the government is treating them and the number of people who got hurt,” she said. “But I am not happy with the way Russia is handling it. It's about money. It's about all of the natural resources, and it's none of their business.”

Chopyk lives with her husband and two children on “the Portland edge of Wood Village” and with her father, Dragosh Bulbuk, she produces a localized version of Internal Treasure, a Russian-language newspaper based in Ukraine. Her father edits the copy to be relevant to readers in this area, and she designs and compiles the final version. The paper has a circulation of about 5,000, not just in the Portland area but across the United States.

Most of Chopyk's mother's family is now in this country, she said, but much of her father's family is still in Ukraine. They live on the far west side of the country and are not affected by the recent violence at this point, but she worries about the unrest spreading.

The families stay in close contact by email or Skype, she said.

“They are following (the unrest) and rooting for good government, hopefully,” she said. “I'm a little worried about war, but after the former president abandoned his palace, we got excited a bit. The reelection may be another change, but I have hope.”

Chopyk's family is Christian, she said, and the main reason they came here was religious intolerance, stemming from old attitudes held over from the anti-religion Communist era. Chopyk felt that discrimination mainly from her teachers, she said.

“It's not about what they say, it's how they treated me,” she said. “They would lower my grades and ignore my work and think of me as lower than everyone else, even though I was really bright in school.”

Because they had family already here, they decided to move to America, she said.

“It is for kids a better place to grow up and build a future,” she said.

The future of Ukraine would be much better off with connections to Europe than with Russia, Chopyk says.

“We would rather be with Europe,” she said. “The European Union was ready for Ukraine to enter, the papers were drawn up, and Russia interfered.”

Chopyk believes the struggle in Ukraine is far from over, but she hopes that proponents of good government will continue to resist the corruption.

“People need to let the government know what they want. If they don't, the government won't care,” she said. “It's still a long road, but the people of Ukraine need to let them know and not let the government do their dirty work.”

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