Ukrainian frustration

If anyone wants to know why I can sometimes become so angry when it comes to Ukrainian issues, I finally managed to develop a way to explain it without writing pages upon pages. Here we go:

Vishivankas? Great. It’s a good folk style and I wholeheartedly support the popularization of any form of menswear that makes neckties and impossibility. Death to neckties.

Long mustaches? Sure. I’m on board.

Chub (Ukrainian traditional cossack hairstyle, sometimes called a ‘forelock’ in English)? Well I’m jealous because thanks to mother nature I can’t really grow one, but again, it’s something that become very popular. Let us encourage this cultural appropriation abroad.

Cossacks? Well let’s not romanticize them, like certain neighbors do, but we cannot deny that Ukraine’s modern roots spring from Cossack culture.

Taras Shevchenko? Of course! Even if we ignore the importance he played in developing the modern Ukrainian language, how could anyone condemn such an incredible mustache in today’s hipster-dominated world?

Ukrainian independence? Of course! Who wants to be dragged down by the crumbling wannabe empire?

Ukrainian territorial integrity? Absolutely.

Ukraine in Europe? Obviously there are controversial aspects of this and it shouldn’t be seen as some sort of panacea, but there are certainly worse things that could happen to Ukraine.

The OUN, UPA, and Bandera? Absolutely not. These movements and their leader never represented Ukraine, they were never supported by anything beyond a small minority of Ukrainians and they did nothing to achieve Ukrainian independence or improve Ukraine. Ukraine has no such lack of heroes that it must make them out of these losers who were products of an era when fascism was the norm for Eastern and Central European political movements.




And now you know why I get pissed off at Ukraine from time to time.


7 thoughts on “Ukrainian frustration

  1. Common European Home (@lstanbulda)

    Well, “These movements and their leader never represented Ukraine, they were never supported by anything beyond a small minority of Ukrainians” ..kind of reminds me of Maidan (too many red black UPA/OUN flags to represent the majority of Ukrainians in West and esp. East) and the new Ukrainian government (<50% participated in the post-Maidan elections).

    1. Stuart

      Well according to Wiki the turnout was 52.42% compared to 57% in 2012. As we have found in the UK to hypothesise anything about those who don’t vote is a bit foolish so they can range from ‘ can’t be bothered’, ‘they’re all ok by me’, ‘don’t like any of them’ to anything in between. The UK elected tony Blair for his 3rd term in 2005 on 22% of a 59% turnout so one can argue mandates for ever but for most it comes down to ‘if it’s politics I don’t like they have no mandate, if it’s politics I like they do’. I’m sure Yanukovych had his supporters in largish no.s and still does – so did people like Milosevic in Serbia

      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        The problem is that Russia took away the Crimea and then the rebels prevented people from voting in the Rada elections. In that sense they shot themselves in the foot.

        Unfortunately based on what I’ve learned from people there who are more knowledgeable about politics there, Ukrainian politics are extremely regional, and I’m not talking about the cliched east-west divide. Most likely due to corruption and the advantages of elected office, politicians seem to focus heavily on their own constituencies like fiefdoms and totally discount other territories the way US presidential candidates are known for totally ignoring certain states as election day nears.

        I’ve seen this in the attitude of some Ukrainians who see the east(including territory they took back) as being hopelessly lost and Russia-leaning. My experience tells me that those people, though alienated by the Kyiv government, are not going to be falling for Russian propaganda any time soon after their experienced life in the “DNR.”

  2. Stuart

    Recently reading about Croatia and in a way many parallels to Ukraine esp re the use by the neighbour and it’s fellow (usually left wing out of a mistaken belief that the nationalist state they are defending is still some sort of socialist idyll ruined only by the evil West) travellers of labels from WW2 to try and vilify everyone (eg the constant references that were made in the 1990s to the aspirations of Croatia being the return of the NDH and the Ustashe). Croatia clearly did have people esp in groups like HOS who fought as part of the defence of Croatia who were fascists as does Ukraine but that doesn’t invalidate that many Ukrainians were sick of living in one of the most corrupt countries in Europe and where the Party of Regions was clearly really the party of one region. People also seem to treat the EuroMaidan as a one off (by implication or directly alleged to effectively have been created by the West – does anyone credible apart from barking Communofascists say that about Tianamen Sq) whereas taken in the context of 2005/2006 Orange Revolution et al it was clearly part of a continuum.

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Actually the best parallel with Croatia is that Croatia learned how to separate its independence in 1991 from that of 1941- Ustase symbols and slogans are banned. I remember in 2014’s World Cup how a Croatian player was penalized for getting the crowd to chant “Za Dom Spremni!” I found that interesting because the media did pick up on this, whereas virtually nobody says anything about “Slava Ukraini!”

      As a side note, my opposition to “Slava Ukraini” was that it was nationalist and sounded like “Slava Rossii,” used by Russian nationalists. My biggest problem with nationalist involvement is because Russia is dominated by these politics and I wanted to see Ukraine truly become the opposite kind of society as opposed to just ramping up the pointless rivalry. It was only later I learned that the slogan derives from the OUN, who adopted it from a group called the League of Ukrainian Fascists which was absorbed into the OUN in the 20’s or early 30’s. Interesting enough, Bandera and his followers were recorded chanting this slogan and giving fascist salutes in the records of the Warsaw and Lviv trials in 1935-36, but of course we all know that the Polish 2nd Republic was nothing but a puppet of Moscow and all those court records and newspaper articles were forged by the NKVD!

      Getting back to Croatia, one could make a strong argument that the Ustase was more representative of Croatia than the OUN ever was of Ukraine, even Western Ukraine. The Ustase at least controlled a state. Obviously many people in the NDH were not members of the Ustase, but the NDH cannot be separated from the Ustase legacy. Thus it is good that Croatia bans its symbols and lives in today, not the past.

      For Ukraine and Ukrainians to be associated with the OUN is a crime and an offense to logic, whether it is being done by the Russian press or so-called “Ukrainian patriots.” Myth and fantasy will not save Ukraine.

      1. Stuart

        Good points as ever – the thing with Croatia was of course that many of the leaders, like Tudjman and say Spengelj in the military area, had impeccable Communist credentials so though that didn’t stop Milosevic (and sympathisers outside Serbia) trotting out all the Ustashe are coming again rhetoric at least for people living in rural communities in Slavonia (in the way that the ‘Banderites are on the way’ line was pushed in Crimea when actually the Ukrainian army was pinned inside its own barracks) it actually was never going to be true. But even saying that, to Serbs and also some in the West even the Sahovnica itself was perceived as a NDH specific symbol (despite that actually being incorrect). I’d agree that in Ukraine the recent laws passed do potentially give ammo to those who’d like to portray the govt in a certain way. You’ll know of course that in some ways this is not knew as even someone like Yuschenko who was perhaps a darling of the Western media (and poisoning someone is no way to pursue any form of politics) of course awarded Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine in 2010. But that doesn’t make those who turned out for the Orange Revolution all Banderites even if some were. To me the basic situation seems to be that Ukraine under Yanukovych was a kleptocracy run by a smallish elite from the Donbas and their followers – those who came out against it were from all shades of politics and of course, per se, right wingers can be just as opposed to corruption etc as anyone else. It would nice if they were all centre left democrats but life isn’t like ghost. I live in a country where half those who could be bothered to vote went for parties wanting clampdowns on this and blitzes on that – doesn’t make me happy but equally simply name calling such people will not change anything.

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