On January 31, the Kyiv City House of the Teacher hosted a regular session of the debate club “Elitist Front Room.” By tradition, the session was organized by the Ukrainian International Committee for Science and Culture of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the Kyiv City House of the Teacher. The club has been holding this event every last Wednesday of the month for 20 years.
The topic of the latest session was “Elite and People. Based on the book The Crown, or Heritage of the Rus’ Kingdom and our own view.” Editor of Den’s section “History and I” Ihor SIUNDIUKOV was a special guest of the session. The lively discussion on the elite and its role in the development of or state, participated by member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NANU) and Kyiv university professors, lasted for an hour and a half.
To begin with, Academician Yaroslav YATSKIV, Director of the NANU Main Astronomical Observatory, called on all those present to observe a minute of silence in memory of Leonid Kadeniuk, the first cosmonaut of independent Ukraine, who departed this life on January 31 at the age of 67. “Today we received sad news about the death of the first Ukrainian cosmonaut Leonid Kadeniuk, a person in love with the sky, a person who took Shevchenko’s Kobzar to the orbit,” Mr. Yatskiv added.
The highlight of the event was the speech of Ihor Siundiukov who began with defining the role of the elite in state formation. Mr. Siundiukov emphasized: “The experience of the past teaches that a nation that was deprived of its elite for a long time is unable to win back and retain its inimitable place in history. For if one does not want to do the duties associated with his or her being part of the nation, then the nation, in which a large number or the majority of people display this kind of sentiments, will simply vanish into thin air. And of paramount importance here is the role of the national elite, the leading political and spiritual stratum, the bearer of the people’s high culture and historical experience. If a true nation even loses independence, it will have real chances to regain it.”
“It is for this reason that the newspaper Den has been systemically and deliberately making educational and historical-culturological efforts for more than 20 years to foster the current and especially the future national elite. We are striving to broaden the ‘intellectual space’ in this country, relay both to the political class, so far very far from the requirements of the day, and to all active Ukrainians in general, the historical experience of the past – with all of its wins, gains, grandeur, losses, defeats, and mistakes. It is impossible to march forward without knowing history, and we should know the past very well – not in a simplified ‘school-like’ manner but in all of its complexity and drama. This is the only real way to the creation of the national elite,” Mr. Siundiukov continued.
Mr. Siundiukov presented Den’s multimedia Tree of Knowledge, stressing that it is, in a way, the history of the newspaper. Besides, he briefly characterized a publishing project, the Den’s Library, which has been in existence since 2002, and focused on Den’s new book of the last year – The Crown, or Heritage of the Rus’ Kingdom.
The editor of Den’s history section pointed out that the book, the idea of which belongs to Larysa Ivshyna and the content – to a team of historians, journalists, and academics, raises an extremely acute question of the quality of our elite – both in history and today. “A ‘classical’ populist historiography dominated for a long time in Ukraine in its very simplified and primitive version: the people are the mainstay and the aristocratic educated stratum is always the enemy. The Crown… under the general editorship of Larysa Ivshyna is aimed at overcoming this false stereotype. Nobody has ever written in Ukraine about this in such a systemized way,” Mr. Siundiukov noted.
In the course of the discussion after Mr. Siundiukov’s speech, the most precise definition of the term “elite” was given: “The elite is the part of the nation, which is prepared to assume responsibility for the country.”
To conclude, Mr. Yatskiv read out a fragment from Den editor-in-chief Larysa Ivshyna’s preface to The Crown…: “Quite predictably, the word ‘elite’ fills a considerable part of society with disgust. There was a misconception, following which the elite also comprised the nomenklatura which people associate, and rightly so, with painful traumas and disappointments of the 25-year-long ‘wandering.’ As a matter of fact, the elite is still to be found, grown, and protected.”
IMPRESSIONS “TO WIN, WE NEED THE QUALITY PRESS”
Yurii SHPUL, correspondent:
“I respect Den very much, for it positions itself as a national newspaper. Unfortunately, most of the Ukrainian media are politically committed. But today, like never before, we need to revive the historical truth. If Ukrainians were speaking the truth, we would be invincible. To win, we need the quality press, and I think Den is just the case.”
“I AM SINCERELY GRATEFUL THAT DEN ADDRESSES THE PROBLEM OF THE NATIONAL ELITE”
Yaroslav YATSKIV, Director, Main Astronomical Observatory, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine:
“I am a regular reader and appreciator of the newspaper Den. In my opinion, it is one of the best Ukrainian-centered newspapers of Ukraine. And I am sincerely grateful that it addresses such difficult problems as that of the national elite. I support Den in many questions, including attitude to the Hetmanate. I was the first to invite Ms. Olena Skoropadska to Ukraine and believe that the newspaper is right to raise the question of marking the 100th anniversary of Pavlo Skoropadsky’s Hetmanate.”
“A CHANCE TO GET RID OF COLONIAL MENTALITY”
Andrii YANCHENKO, student:
“The noble side of our history should prompt society to reconsider the history of our fatherland. A lively debate on the continuity and grandeur of Ukrainian statehood will become the salubrious extract that will wake up the true Ukrainian. Den’s new book is supposed to teach the Ukrainian to be proud of his Ukrainianness, which our compatriots often lack, to look back proudly and respectfully, while marching forward steadily. Popularizing this topic is a chance for the ordinary Ukrainian to get rid of colonial mentality and be aware of Ukraine not in the context of the Polish Kingdom, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, or Muscovy, but as a separate link in the global historical process.”