THE WAR OF THE FLAGS

The Bulgakov House is House No 13 situated on St. Andrew’s Descent – the street mentioned in my previous blog. Now it is a museum and it displays a plaque with the address (No.13 Alekseevsky Spusk) Mikhail Bulgakov used in his novel The White Guard and in his play Days of the Turbins.

Bulgakov was a determined anti-Ukrainian and from this premise I am his determined antagonist. However, I respect him for his talent and for the sincerity of his beliefs. That’s why when I saw a Ukrainian blue-and-yellow flag over the Bulgakov House (see the picture), I got irritated. I understood that there’s a rule that the national flag should be put up over government organizations like schools, museums, all kinds of committees, etc. But for the Bulgakov House an exception could have been made. To hoist the blue-and-yellow flag over No 13 St. Andrew’s Descent was like to paint a cross on the door of a Muslim house. The characters of Mikhail Bulgakov’s books, so sympathetically depicted by the writer, had been fighting against the Ukrainian army which, in its turn, was encouraged by the blueness of the Ukrainian sky and the yellowness of the Ukrainian corn-fields. Maybe the sight of the national colors over House 13 is a source of joy for some political extremists, but I felt just … shame. For me it was a sign of callousness and distaste, and a reminder of who is controlling culture in Ukraine…

When I showed this blog to my wife she said that as far as she knew the flag over House 13 in Andriyivskyi Uzviz (St. Andrew’s Descent) had already been taken down. Having given some thought to it, I still decided to post the blog. I remembered an episode from the book Ordeal by Alexey Tolstoy when a hero stuck his head out of the window every morning and asked which army had occupied the town at night. After hearing an answer he put a flag of a respective color in his window. At the moment a full-scale “remont” (renovation) is underway in St. Andrew’s Descent. But there’s no guarantee that after the street is given a facelift, another flag (probably a white-blue-and-red one symbolizing both the White Guard and the present-day Russian Federation) will not be put out of the window in the Bulgakov House… In view of the present developments.

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