With civilized people from around the world currently calling for the release of Ukrainian Air Force pilot Nadia Savchenko from a Russian jail, it is time to recognize what Nadia has become: a living reminder of the power human beings have to expose perverse legal oppression.
Even though, at this moment, she is behind bars, Nadia is, in truth, free. Her life contains a vibrant metaphor about the true meaning of freedom. She serves as testament to the fact there are no physical bars that can extinguish the freedom that resides within the human soul.
Hers is an indomitable spirit. A spirit that daily, and uncompromisingly, demands dignity and respect. It is a spirit that blatantly refuses to submit itself to injustice, especially the comedic expression of legal practice exemplified in today’s Russia. It is a spirit that says, ‘I am free and I will be free because I stand for the truth and what is right’.
Nadia is a rebel, in practice and symbolically. She raises her middle finger in the cage provided by her disingenuous captors. In her rebellion, she affirms that hers is a prophetic voice, a voice that condemns Russian justice while demanding true justice. She is impatient, as we all are. She is tired of the ‘theatre of the absurd’ that is her trial. Her rebellious voice demands the truth, and her conduct demonstrates her unwillingness to participate in the charade of the Russian court proceedings. Her rebellion is an act of condemnation.
Nadia’s voice and life example are no doubt inconvenient, troublesome, problematic, and undesirable for some. Her presence and attitude are a direct condemnation of totalitarian and authoritarian practice. Such a voice is a challenge to authoritarianism because it exposes the blatant abuse of power inherent in all non-democratic systems.
Nadia is an example of what the theologian Paul Tillich meant when he suggested that the existential question for human beings is, ‘What does it mean to be?’ The answer he suggested is found within the individual quest to answer the question, ‘Do you have the courage to be?’ Nadia provides the answer, in her life, in her behaviour, and in her voice.
I dream of welcoming Nadia on Maidan in Kyiv. Along with hundreds of thousands of people gathered to welcome her. There would probably be many words spoken, but it is my hope that she will lead us in the proverbial raising of the middle finger towards Russia and to all those who support its authoritarian practices.
In essence, Nadia’s voice is a continuation of the voice of Euromaidan. Hers is the voice of the Heavenly Hundred. She speaks for the nation. But most importantly, she speaks for all humanity against authoritarianism.
About the author: Yuri Polakiwsky is a writer who resides both in Toronto and Kyiv. He is the author of the book: ‘Ukraine - a Lament of a Promise’ and a member of the Association of Ukrainian Writers and Poets in Kyiv.