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Ukrainian Roots: Correspondent Fred Weir was born in Canada, and lives in Moscow, but his grandparents are Ukrainian. So he's always had a special interest in the country. But he adds, "I thank God my grandparents had the wisdom to emigrate to Canada and avoid Ukraine in the 20th century."

Still, what Fred saw and heard during his latest trip to Kiev was encouraging. "Ukraine has diverged from its Soviet past. It kept its parliamentary democracy through the 1990s when so many former Soviet republics went for strong presidents. For all the talk of disillusionment over the dashed expectations of the Orange Revolution, it's very clear now that the political culture of Kiev is open, democratic, and above all, optimistic," he says.

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"People talk freely and truly believe elections can change things," Fred says. "There's a lot of excitement, as well as apprehension, over the March elections. But people are involved in the civic and political life in a way that they stopped being involved in Russia a decade ago. Something quite different is happening there."

David Clark Scott
World editor


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