2014-07-26rip_ussrThere is a joke about a stranger asking a way in a city. The first person, whom the visitor addressed, said the shortest way to the visitor’s destination was from Cathedral of Praise to Covenant Fellowship, then to Family Harvest Outreach and, finally, to New House Ministries. The same route was explained by another person in a somewhat different way: “Go from Barley Mow to Olde Man and Scythe, then to Kentish House, and when you reach Cheviot Inn, you are at the right place. “

As a high-school student, I studied History of the Soviet Union, of which History of Ukraine was a part. In hindsight, I understand that the communist historians were taking students through the past centuries by “church names”, i.e. highlighting positive moments of the relationship between the two nations. However, the objective picture will emerge when the Ukrainian history is traced along the “pubs” – an endless string of tragedies and social catastrophes created by Russia. Were there any positive moments? Yes. But when compared with the negative aspect of the union with Russia, the positive element was hardly dominant.

For more than three and a half centuries it was crammed into our heads that Ukrainians and Russians were “brotherly” peoples. When I hear the word “brotherly” from the Russian lips now, I always have a feeling that something different is meant. Something opposite, to be exact.  I remember the same deceitful language was used when in 1968 the Soviets were giving military “assistance” to the “brotherly Czechoslovak people.” What kind of brotherhood can exist between the Russians and the Ukrainians if both had no less than five major wars between each other?.. if the artificial famine was organized by Russia in Ukraine and the scholars cannot agree about one thing only: how many millions (two? four? seven? ten?) of the Ukrainians died in the famine?.. if the Chernobyl disaster (thirty kilometers from the capital city of Kyiv) was actually Moscow’s culpability?

I shudder with disgust when I think that the “brother country” can blow up its own residential buildings and use it as a pretext to do away with another nation (the Chechens)… when passenger airliners can cold-bloodedly be downed for political purposes, or simply, for scaring an opponent (the Korean Airlines Flight in 1983, the Polish 2010 TU-154 plane near Smolensk, and the latest – the Malaysian MH17 Flight over Ukraine)… when political opponents are murdered on the territory of other countries (Yevhen Konovalets in the Netherlands in 1938; Stepan Bandera in Germany in 1959; Georgi Markov in 1978; Alexander Litvinenko in Britain in 2006)… With Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian citizen, the Bulgarian secret service was formerly involved, but it’s common knowledge that it couldn’t have happened if the Russian patron hadn’t OK’d the action.

Here, in Ukraine, you may sometimes hear the phrase “We love the Russians, we hate Putin.” I would agree with it if the generalizing article “the” in the sentence were replaced by the indefinite pronoun “some.” I deeply respect the philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev, the dissident Andrey Sakharov, the philologist Dmitriy Likhachov. In my opinion, Yevgeniy Yevtushenko remains the greatest Russian poet of the second half of the 20th century. But… the fact also remains that nations are – directly or indirectly – accomplices in their leaders’ crimes. Adolf Hitler would not have been able to arrange the Holocaust if anti-Semitism had not been so popular among the Germans in the 1930s. At the moment Vladimir Putin is doing what the Russians want him to do. Millions of the Russians consider Ukraine to be an “error of history” with no right to exist. If Putin suddenly stepped down now, they (the Russians) would find another Putin. The sooner the Ukrainians understand it, the more mature as a nation they will be.


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  1. Vatslav Yehurnov Says:

    Regarding “brotherly” approach: Stanisław Lem was the best at describing it in the novel “Pokój na Ziemi”.

  2. vitaliyb Says:

    Thanks for your valuable prompt. Please see my today’s entry (July 31) generated by your comment.

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