Archive for November, 2012

CAINISH SPIRIT

November 27, 2012

I ask myself a question: Why is Russia stubbornly denying that it arranged  the Holodomor? An explanation may be found in Genesis 4:9: After Cain had murdered his brother Abel, God asked him where his brother was. Cain answered, “I don’t know, he replied. Am I my brother’s keeper?

Cain’s response to God’s question is insolent, arrogant and hypocritical. Just the same as Russia’s answer. The heart of the murderer is as hardened as it was at the moment of the murder. When Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned by a Moscow agent in 2006, the official answer of the FSB (aka KGB) was the same lie:  “Is it our responsibility to know what has happened to him?”

Another question: Why do many countries deny that the Holodomor was a genocide?  Why do some of them refuse even to recognize that the famine was man-made? The reply comes also from Genesis 4:9.  Inwardly the guilt is recognized by the “observers”, but their pride keeps them from assuming responsibility (“Those victims ought to have known this would happen”, or “We had quite a lot to sort out in our own house at that time.”)

… The Holocaust in the 1940s, population transfers on the territory of Poland right after WWII, the Khmer Rouge atrocities in Kampuchea in the 1970s, mass killings of Iraqi Kurds in 1988, ridding of pygmies in the Congo Civil War (1988-2003), genocidal killings committed against Somalia’s Bantu population in the 1990s, the Rwandan Genocide in 1994…  WHERE IS ABEL YOUR BROTHER? …AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?

 

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A UKRAINIAN WORD IN ENGLISH IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER

November 25, 2012

Etymological English dictionaries state that about 30 per cent of this language are of French origin, 26 per cent are the native Germanic stock, 6 per cent of all words came from Greek and 10 per cent – from other languages. The Ukrainian language “supplied” English with some thirty words. More than half of them relate to the Ukrainian cuisine: pyrohy, varenyky, borsht, kasha, kvas, paska, kobasa, pysanka, holubtsi, etc. I go Merriam-Webster Online and type the word holodomor in the search bar. The internet dictionary says that the word isn’t there and suggests three words which are similar in spelling to mine: old-timer, oligomer and Old Norse.

The word holodomor is known to every foreigner who lives in Ukraine. It stands for the 1932-33 artificial famine that killed 7 – 10 million people. The Holodomor was arranged by Moscow and was aimed at breaking the resistance of the Ukrainian peasants to the communist rule. Importantly, peasants made up some 80 per cent of the Ukrainian nation in those days. Not only the crops were requisitioned from the people, but even food was taken from the ovens in their homes. Living on the black soils, which were the richest in the world, the peasants had to eat leaves from trees and kill stray dogs and cats for food. There were many cases of cannibalism. Villages were turned into death camps because police cordons didn’t let the people leave their places.

At the same time, the leading Western intellectuals, like Leon Feuchtwanger or George Bernard Shaw eulogised Stalin. In 1933 the United States established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Russia, thus officially recognising it. The West didn’t see what it didn’t want to see.

The Holodomor was the genocide of the Ukrainian people. If it hadn’t been egotistically overlooked by the leading democracies in those days, the Jewish Holocaust might not have happened some ten years later.

Yesterday, November 24, church bells tolled, candles flickered and national flags, adorned with black ribbons, flew in Kyiv as the Ukrainians marked the anniversary of their national tragedy. But it is worthy of note that the Ukrainian President didn’t commemorate the memory of the dead together with the Ukrainian people. He did it a day earlier in a very narrow company of his like-minded associates – purposefully distancing himself from all those who qualify holodomor as an intentional destruction of the Ukrainian nation. On the one hand, he couldn’t have disregarded the sheer truth of the death of millions, on the other, he tried to belittle the significance of the commemoration because present-day Russia doesn’t recognise it, and he is the Russian puppet.

……………………………………………

I looked through the Russian borrowings in the English language. There are about two hundred of them. Those which I found most conspicuous were katorga, mat, dedovshchina. oprichnik, KGB, vodka, pogrom, gulag…

THE COURTSEY TITLE ­– WITH A SMILE

November 11, 2012

 

While rummaging around in my wardrobe, I found a T-shirt with the logo of Sun Microsystems. At its height the company sold computers, computer software, components, information technology services – that is to say, the character of its business was like what the company I’m working for is doing now. In February 2010 Sun Microsystems merged with Oracle USA, Inc. to become Oracle America, Inc. But the T-shirt remained and, looking at it, my wife addresses me “Vitaliy san”.

ENDANGERED OR REVITALIZED

November 11, 2012

On November 9 Ukraine was observing Ukrainian Writing and Language Day. The Day also honors Nestor the Chronicler who was the first to mention the Slavonic tribes that lived on the banks of the Dnipro River one and a half millenniums ago. The observation parallels Language Days at the United Nations, which seek to promote equal use of six official languages throughout the Organization – Arabic (Dec. 18), Chinese (Sept 1), English (April 23), French (Mar 20), Russian (June 6) and Spanish (Oct 12). While Days of the UN official languages are celebrated, Ukraine doesn’t have much to celebrate. According to the latest statistics, 67% of the Ukrainians consider Ukrainian to be their native language. Less than 50% of all Ukrainians use it in public places. The main reasons are the colonial past and the post-colonial present of Ukraine. At the moment less than a third of television broadcasting time is assigned for Ukrainian programs, only 3% of all songs on FM radio stations are Ukrainian, only 17% of magazines and 13% of all books in Ukraine are are published in Ukrainian. If one takes into account that the main bulk of the Ukrainian cultural element is concentrated in the West of the country and the East keeps being “russified”, one may feel how divided Ukraine is. In such regions like Donbas or Crimea a Ukrainian-speaking person is an “alien in his own land.”

My acquaintance’s daughter goes to a primary school in Kyiv. The school is supposed to be a Ukrainian-language one. However, teachers speak Ukrainian only at lessons. During the recess time and right after school they prefer communicating with students in Russian. When the acquaintance raised the issue with the school administration, the daughter had a “hard talk” with the teacher who was displeased by the “leakage of information” about her language habits. The teacher trims her sails to the wind: the recent law on languages pushed through by the pro-Russian party of President Yanukovych marginalizes the Ukrainian language.

There are many of those in Ukraine for whom Ukrainian is an instrument of their national identity, as well as a symbol of their country’s independence and of personal freedom. They went on hunger strike in the center of Kyiv when the infamous law was adopted. Eventually, it’s due to them that Ukrainian Writing and Language Day had been established. On this day those for whom their mother tongue is not “mere sounds” write a radio-dictation (“Dictation of National Unity”) which is broadcast all over the country at 1:30 PM, and they send it to the Central Radio for checking.

It is estimated that, if nothing is done, half of 6000 plus languages spoken today will disappear by the end of the 21 century. With them there will disappear half of mankind’s cultural wealth. Realizing this danger, native speakers of endangered languages come up with revitalization programs. The successful examples of the past may Hebrew, German, Czech, Finnish. Nowadays Irish, Welsh, Galician, Basque are being promoted – though with mixed success. I do sincerely hope that a Ukrainian pupil dropping in the mailbox his dictation addressed to the Central Radio will, one day, write more optimistic lines about the Ukrainian language than what I’m writing now.

BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE

November 4, 2012

It has become customary for presidential candidates in the U.S.A. elections to engage in debates, which are considered a part of election process. The main target in these debates are undecided voters. I don’t think that either a Republican or a Democratic candidate would win the election if he refused from debates while the candidate from the opposing party would insist on such debates. However, what cannot happen in another country, happens in Ukraine. In the 2010 presidential election campaign the candidate Yanukovych was supposed to discuss the most controversial issues of the time with his opponent Yulia Tymoshenko. That evening Viktor Yanukovych, showed the white feather and didn’t come for TV debates, which is why Yulia Tymoshenko was speaking to an empty chair. After a few days Yanukovych was elected President, and a year later Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on laughable charges by a kangaroo court.

Don’t these two approaches to debates reflect the mentalities of the American and Ukrainian peoples? In the U.S.A. they think that a person must be able to think clearly and to express himself in order to act rationally. If the person is tongue-tied, it means that his understanding of the things under discussion is poor and he will hardly act positively.

In Ukraine a taciturn person creates an impression of a person who acts and gets things done – a “man of deeds, not words”. In a similar way, politeness may be considered a sign of weakness, and a smile addressed to a person you don’t know – a strangeness of character. To say that a person is given to smiling (Russ. улыбчивый) would imply a rather negative characteristics.

I earnestly believe that before Ukraine gets into Europe, as it declares it would like to, it should learn to appreciate an intelligent speech, to accept politeness as a value, and to give a friendly smile to somebody who is “just a stranger.”

 

WHY AREN’T WE MUSLIMS?

November 4, 2012

A true story about an English school told by my son.

In Yorkshire pupils of a primary school who come from Muslim families were allowed not to attend classes on a Muslim holiday that was celebrated last October. However, the attendance was required for all the rest.

An “unfortunate” kid comes home from school in the afternoon and asks his mother: “Mum, why aren’t we Muslims?”

THIMBLERIGGED INTO MAJORITY

November 4, 2012

Shell game is a game  in which the operator rapidly moves about three inverted thimbles (usually with sleight of hand), one of which conceals a token, the other player betting on which thimble the token is under. Provided the operator is skilful enough, the one who bets has no chance of guessing where the token is. The game was popular in Ukraine in the early 1990s and was usually played in the markets and railway stations, i.e. where there were multitudes of people who had some pocket change to spend “trying their luck.” In those days laws on swindling (as 99 per cent of all other laws, in fact) stopped functioning, so the thimblerig, as the game was also called, was thriving. With time people may have become wiser, because the game moved into another niche – politics.

The Party of Regions, which is the ruling party in Ukraine, changed the election law earlier this year, getting ready for the parliamentary elections on October 28. Before, all the 450 seats in Parliament had been contested for by parties only. Feeling that their party will get fewer seats this time, the Regionnaires said: “Let only 225 seats be assigned for party representatives. The other 225 should go for individual contestants who will be elected in first-past-the-post majoritarian districts. Being elected directly by voters, the “individuals” will take a better care of people’s needs.” In addition, the Party of Regions suggested that only those parties should qualify for Parliament which get no less than 5% of all votes. The opposition (the “easy game”) liked the 5%- idea – hoping that smaller parties will not be in their way in Parliament any more, so they voted for the new election law.

The thimble-trick played by the Regionnaires was that it’s much easier to rig the elections in separate (majoritarian) districts. It’s easier for the local Regionnaires to put pressure on voters by intimidating, brainwashing and bribing them when it concerns local party representatives for Parliament. In the long run, should the methods mentioned not work out, direct machinations will (like re-writing final figures, etc). As a result of voting last Sunday, about 80% of the seats reserved for first-past-the-post candidates for the Ukrainian Parliament have been won by the representatives of the Party of Regions, while it gained only 30% of the seats assigned for parties.

Eventually, the ruling party of the incumbent President has won about 250 seats out of 450 and will again constitute a majority. The good news is that they don’t have 300 seats (the constitutional majority) to change the country’s main law and thus to phase out the Ukrainian statehood altogether.


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