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 Everyone is so engrossed in the Malaysia Airlines tragedy I am afraid no one is paying attention to what is occurring in Russia and Ukraine. Of course Putin is happy about that as it takes public opinion and world attention off what he is doing. I am afraid the people there may think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence; to quote an often used saying. Perhaps Russia offers more than having their own country. Any humans losing their freedom should be a concern to all of us.

As is true with most any area of the world from where you live, most people do not understand the culture and thinking of the people in that part of the world. We assume they have similar feelings about their country that we do here in America. I have an acquaintance who immigrated to America from Estonia. I asked her about her feelings of what is happening in neighboring Ukraine.

First I want to explain, for those who read this not from America, how citizenship works here. If you are born the US you are a US citizen. If you marry a US citizen, you get some consideration, but must remain married and apply for citizenship. Otherwise, you have to apply to be a citizen, wait a specific amount of time, take a citizenship test, and be approved for citizenship. It is a lengthy process and involves lawyers and money. My friend is in the process. She explained to me her situation and her problem in her birth country. She was born in the region that is now Ukraine. It was part of the USSR when she was born. So even though she was born there, the Ukrainian government did not recognize her as a citizen of Ukraine. She is a citizen of Russia. As a citizen of Russia she has very little rights in Ukraine and had to obtain permission to get a job there or even to get housing. So even though born in Ukraine she felt discriminated against by the new government. She left for a better life.

My friend explained to me most of the former Soviet countries have similar citizenship regulations. I had wondered why so many Ukrainian people wanted Russia to come back in even if they lost some of the freedoms gained when the area became a country of its own. In her explanation of the situation there, I now understand. If Russia takes Ukraine back into Russia, those displaced individuals will re-gain their citizenship and the hardships hopefully stop.

In my simple mind, I would have thought everyone who lived in Ukraine, or any of the former Soviet states, would become citizens of the new country. Certainly when America gained its independence from England, everyone here, regardless of where they were from, became citizens. So we assume the same to be true for other countries. But that is not the case so we have the standoff now going on between Russia and Ukraine. Unfortunately, I think Russia will continue to move in on all the former states and Russia will be back to its old Soviet days which is exactly what Putin intended when he became President of Russia.

I am concerned for all the people of that area. When you have grown up in freedom you wish it for everyone. War is not the answer but I hope those who continue to want freedom will continue to fight for it. I also hope those in power will consider the plight of all the people living in the country and provide equal citizenship for all.