(CNSNews.com) -- “The situation in Ukraine…is very dangerous," warned Myroslav Marynovych, a former Soviet prisoner of conscience and prominent Ukrainian pro-democracy activist.
“Our country is enduring a challenge no one has expected in the 21st century,” he said, calling Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea a “litmus test for the whole international community.”
Marynovych, who is also he vice-rector of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Lviv, believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to prevent Ukraine from moving closer to Western democracies because his long-term plans include reabsorbing the country into a newly reorganized Soviet Union.
The “illusion of communism…captured the imagination of many nations and many generations. We have reaped the fruits of our own blindness,” Marynovych told diplomats, members of Congress and guests attending a wreath-laying ceremony at the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington Wednesday.
“The main goal of Putin is to not let Ukraine go too far toward Europe,” Marynovych told CNSNews.com after receiving the 2014 Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom from the Victims of Communism Foundation.
“He understands already that he can’t have Ukraine immediately. His message to Europe is that it’s impossible that the Ukraine will be annexed. That it’s a crazy idea.”
“Many European diplomats are ready to accept this position” because of their “inertia of thinking,” Marynovych pointed out. “The other reason is that the West has values, and cannot even imagine that Russia can totally lie about its intentions.”
But “I’m afraid that Europe will be too pragmatic and listen to the cajoling from Moscow and prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. I’m afraid Putin’s pressure on Europe will succeed,” he told CNSNews.com.
Then “he will find a ‘solution’ to take Ukraine into the restored Soviet Union.”
Marynovych was sentenced to seven years of hard labor and five years in exile in 1978 for “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.”
In 2008, he was awarded the Order of Liberty by the Ukrainian Parliament for helping to strengthen “the sovereignty and independence of the Ukraine.”
Expressing his gratitude to the foundation “for keeping the memory of the victims of communism alive,” former Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus told the assemblage that he was “not alone in seeing new dangers” from a re-emergent communism that is once again threatening European democracies.
But Klaus warned that this new version “appears in different forms, often in a disguise that hides its real nature.”
“We have to concentrate our fight against communism on the new reincarnations we are surrounded by these days,” he said before wreaths representing 44 nations that suffered under communist rule were laid around the memorial.
However, Klaus says the problem is primarily internal, not external.
“The people of Europe have a growing democracy deficit due to their own internal developments within the European Union,” Klaus explained to CNSNews.com. “That has nothing to do with President Putin. It’s a crucial difference.”
Foundation chairman and co-founder Dr. Lee Edwards, who described communism as “a pseudo religion posing as a pseudo science that is always enforced by a totalitarian regime,” pointed out that despite the end of the Cold War, communism is far from dead.
Citing repressive communist regimes in China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam, Edwards decried the “brutal, bloody reality of communism, which over the last century has taken the lives of over 100 million victims and controls the lives of over one billion people today.”