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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

No Ukraine without Ukrainization…

Comment on <I>The Day</I>’s interview with Dr. Vasiutynsky (Is. 22, Apr. 15, 2010)
27 April, 2010 - 00:00

KHARKIV — So this is the reason behind all of Ukraine’s problems. According to Vadym Vasiutynsky, it is all very simple, indeed: All we Ukrainians have to do is to switch to studying and communicating in Russian, and everything in this country will be nice and dandy. Dr. Vasiutynsky says that “the Rus­sian-speaking [part of the] population is made up of more intellectual (yeah, right, they are head and shoulders above us, intellectually underdeveloped khokhols! — Author), better-off, more advanced, and more dynamic individuals” whereas “the Ukrainian language has weak social positions… On a global scale, this language is practiced by the rural populace; people who are less educated and have fewer opportunities.” And all this under the title “Ukrainization is inevitable”!

Dr. Vasiutynsky eats bread made from grain grown for him by that undereducated rural population, despite all economic failures and drastic weather conditions. Shevchenko wrote: Thus, in her struggle, our Ukraine / Reached the last climax of pure pain… Now this Ukraine and its language are crucified by Vasiutynsky and the likes of him. I wonder where Dr. Vasiutynsky’s parents and grandparents come from, maybe from the countryside?

Indeed, how can one even compare all those Ukrainian rednecks like Taras Shevchenko, born in the village of Moryntsi, or Ivan Franko from the village of Nahuievychi, to the highly intellectual Vasiutynsky? Or the Symyrenko family of sugar manufacturers, art patrons, scholars of world caliber from the village of Mliieve in what is now Cherkasy oblast, who were destroyed by the Russian and Soviet empires?

And so the verbiage of people like Tabachnyk and Semynozhenko about the Russian language and Russian-Ukrainian history, as well as the anti-Ukrainian activities of the president and government are apparently meant to be bought by all these undereducated, intellectually underdeveloped, and less dynamic Ukrainian hillbillies, along with Azarov’s ideas that are going to be fed to them under the slogans of protection for all those long-suffering Russians in Ukraine and Russian-speaking Ukrainians who are cleverer and more advanced. For them the biggest problem is the Ukrainian language. They don’t want to study it — and why should they, considering that everything around them is Russian?

In an interview with the journalist Mustafa Nayem, Academician Semynozhenko stressed the priority of the Russian language. Nayem pointed to the lack of Ukrainian technical terminology and Semynozhenko agreed. While Mustafa is a young man and may be unaware of the tragic, atrocious history of struggle against the Ukrainian revival, Semynozhenko should know about the trials over intellectuals in Kharkiv, in 1930, about all those Ukrainian cultural figures and Ukrainian-speaking specialists (technicians and physicists who read lectures in Ukrainian and when abroad, in English). According to Pavlo Shtepa, almost all technical terms in Russian are of German or French origin.

Once Russian becomes predominant as a language of wealth, progress and dynamics, the Ukrainians will be given the money promised to them by Yanukovych.

Does Dr. Vasiutynsky know that before the 1930s all Kharkiv residents spoke Ukrainian? Then came Stalin’s purges that destroyed all those highly intellectual and cultured Ukrainians, directors of enterprises, academicians, university lecturers, schoolteachers, writers, poets, and even students. Their only fault was an attempt to revive Ukraine and the Ukrainian language in the scientific, production, and public spheres.

Does Dr. Vasiutynsky know that over 50 Ukrainian terminological dictionaries of politics, mining, technology, physics, medicine, economics, biology, geology, agriculture, etc., were compiled in the 1920s and then simply destroyed in 1933? Incidentally, the same was the case with the first volumes of the Ukrainian Encyclopedia of Cybernetics (1951), as this science was condemned as being bourgeois.

Does he know about the Executed Renaissance in Ukraine?

Let him read Ukrainian treatises by Dmytro Bahalii, Pavlo Shtepa, Ivan Dziuba, and learn about how the Ukrainian language and culture were brutally persecuted, destroyed, and elbowed out by Russian, including in Kharkiv and Donetsk that are today Russian-speaking cities.

It is common knowledge that the Russian mentality is more aggressive (“dynamic” according to Vasiutynsky) than the Ukrainian one, and the 20 percent of Russians in Ukraine want to impose the revival of its own, pro-Russian imperial vector in this country. We all remember the scenes from a television report with people in Sevastopol yelling, “We won’t let our children study this khokhol language!”

Some of the Russian-speaking Ukrainian intellectuals and scholars I know admit that they grew up in a Russian-speaking milieu, which is why they don’t know contemporary Ukrainian literature and history.

Why doesn’t Vasiutynsky mention the status of the Ukrainian language in Russia when talking about the necessity of a special status for Russian in Ukraine? Why is it necessary to struggle against the alleged humiliation of Russian-speaking ­ci­tizens of Ukraine, considering that the learned author admits that their “positions are stronger,” even without this special status?

Ukrainians in Russia are just another ethnic minority, without any special preferences, whereas Russians in Ukraine constitute a special ethnic minority. In fact, they refuse to be treated as one, so they enlist all Russian-speaking residents, and it appears to be necessary to campaign for their special rights. All of Uk­raine must start speaking Russian, and then we will all be more intellectual, better educated, advanced, and dynamic.

There is no need to develop Ukrainian science, culture, economy, national self-identity. All we need is start using the Russian language, and everything will be just fine. First, the Russian language, then Russian passports (as in the case of the Ukrainian soccer player Aliiev who was issued a Russian passport without his knowledge and consent), then playing out the South Ossetian and Abkhazian scenarios in the Crimea, Donbas, Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts, and finally the deadly brotherly embrace…

What would happen if the United States and Great Britain started defending all English-speaking individuals?

What would happen if regional languages and cultures started being selected in Ukraine? Chaos and discord that would cause Ukraine to split into Russian, Romanian, Belarusian, and Polish sections.

A monument to Catherine II, who enforced serfdom in Ukraine, has been built; they are planning a monument to Stalin who killed millions by famine. A statue of Lenin, who responded to peasant revolts by ordering these peasants hanged to teach others a lesson, is found in practically every city and that in the 20th year of Ukrainian independence.

Vasiutynsky notes that “de-Russification is taking place at various levels” and pro-European, pro-American, but most often pro-Ukrainian, sentiments are coming— this is only a figment of his imagination. Where has he seen any of this? I think these words are a smokescreen for the law on the special status of the Russian language which he frankly considers to be more intellectual. Why not write something like “Russisch ueber alles!” Then everyone would know who is professing Nazism and fascism, instead of blaming the Ukrainian national patriots, the way two parties — the Party of Regions and the Communists — are doing. The former thus conceal their Ukrainophobia, while the latter their ardent desire for the return of the Soviet empire.

I am a Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainian and I have lived in eastern Ukraine for some 20 years of Ukrainian independence under a constant Russian language information siege. I see no changes of the better; there is no evidence of that “inevitable Ukrainization.” Moreover, I am scared to be increasingly often accused of using Ukrainian, of being a Banderite, a nationalist, something people with Soviet mentality identify with Nazism — for they still use Soviet dictionaries. When I hear about eastern and southern Ukraine being Russian-speaking because Russian “happened to become” predominant there, I want to say out loud that it happened at KGB gunpoint, because people feared imprisonment, Gulag, and death.

There will be no Ukrainian state without Ukrainization, just as there would have been no Russia without Russian or France without French. We Ukrainians should emulate the Russian example and show more dynamism in the state-building process.

By Ukrainian-speaking U.M. UKRAINETS