JANUARY 1, UKRAINIAN PATRIOTISM, NATIONALISM AND STEPAN BANDERA.

2015-01-01A most significant political result of 2014 for Ukraine was the grown national maturity of the people. Thanks to Mr. Putin, more and more people here started to identify with this country and with its (hopefully) European future as opposed to what had been prepared for them by the ex-President Yanukovych and his Kremlin patron. I am even glad for the people of Donbas and Crimea to have separated from Ukraine: let them stay where they are and carry on loving Father Putin as long as they do not attempt to encroach on my land. And, as millions of Ukrainians, I am thankful to those people and governments all over the world who, by their decent and sober stand, managed to bring Putin to his senses – at least for the time being.

In Soviet times it was not officially forbidden to “love” Ukraine. The Party allowed you to sing about how wide the Dnieper was (but at the same time it was advised to remember that the river flew through the territory of two other “fraternal” republics – Russia and Byelorussia). You could say proudly that Kyiv (the Russian spelling “Kiev”) was the heart of Ukraine, but only by adding that the city was the “brother of the great Moscow.” You might speak about the rich black soils of the country — only you had to always add that the fields were cultivated by the “collective farmers.”

Regarding their national sentiments, the Soviets were split into patriots and nationalists. If a person was a patriot, it automatically meant that he was a patriot of the Soviet Union: the phrase “a patriot of Ukraine” was oxymoronic – very much like “hot snow” or the “black sun.” If, in some way, the person demonstrated his being a Ukrainian, he was on the Party’s radar screen. When I was being interviewed for my first job in the 1970s, the Party secretary asked me about my family. I told him that a son had been born into our family and added that the son’s name was Bogdan.  A couple of weeks after I was employed, the same Party secretary suggested that I should prepare a report at our university’s political seminar about how the Communist Party had solved the national problem in the multinational USSR. I guessed why the secretary told me to come up with that theme: the name Bogdan was a genuine Ukrainian name and was associated with Bogdan (Bohdan) Kmelnytskyi, the 17th-century national hero of Ukraine.

If you insisted on your “Ukrainianism”, you could be categorized as a “bourgeois nationalist.” In this view I would like to make a line of division between a great-power nationalism, which I call “chauvinism”, and the nationalism of an oppressed nation, which is for me equivalent to “patriotism” or, in simpler terms, to the love of one’s own country, to a wish to see one’s country independent and just, free and prosperous, godly and civilized. That love and wish were the driving force for the activities of Yevhen Konovalets, Andriy Melnyk and Stepan Bandera before and during WWII. The Soviet Union left no unturned stone to discredit their names and the ideas of Ukrainian nationalism. For one, Stepan Bandera was accused of collaborating with Hitler during the Holocaust. It was just the other way round: Bandera got imprisoned by the German fascists, while lots of Jews were fighting alongside with the Banderovites against the German fascists – just as seventy years later they were fighting against the Putin-backed Yanukovych. This time they even got a proud name: Judo-Banderovites. Incidentally, I always advise my compatriots to learn from the Jewish people how to love one’s native country and how to build it. And also to how to be nationalists — with the first book of Jewish nationalism being the Old Testament itself.

During the latest parliamentary elections in Ukraine the whole of the Obolon disctrict in Kyiv where I live was flooded with leaflets and billboards promoting the candidacy of a local money-bag. However, the victory was gained by a person who was a Maidan activist and a participant in the ongoing war with Russia. I am happy to post his leaflet – I also voted for him.

And one finishing touch: today is Stepan Bandera’s birthday. Actually, that was the reason why I thought of writing this blog.

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