With lecture 8, the “contradictions of Ukrainian identity” are discussed.
They claim that there are two viewpoints: One is that Ukraine is an independent nation. The other, alternative one is that “there is some single complex, very complex ethnic complex, a nation consisting of three branches: the Great Russian branch, the Little Russian [means: Ukrainian] branch, and the Belarusian branch. And all of these together make one nation.”
It’s claimed that this concept has followers until today and that even in the past some historians etc believed this. The lecturer goes on and saying that therefore, conflicts amongst them are conflict in a family. And that the lecturer tends to accept the second version (the one with the tree branches).
He starts an example of why, a remarkable sentence here is the beginning “let us imagine that we have a peaceful, calm time, preferably even Soviet” (comment: not all countries see it that way, only the suppressor, not the suppressed. See also “Why eastern countries joined NATO”).
The argument goes on to a fictive train ride (back in the soviet Union) where he claims that there are minor differences when going to Ukraine and large ones going to, say Czechoslovakia. (comment: this is a steep claim, apart from the trivial (often true) statement that a country further away is less similar. Additionally, in the soviet Union, all countries of the soviet Union were made to look more alike in terms of buildings, education (required to study Russian and the Russian history). Today, having been independent for 30 years, Ukraine and Russia differ largely, as anyone who has visited the countries can confirm).
He goes on: “Take the borders between Hungary and Romania, Germany and France, for example. Yes, everyone in the European Union is friends but these borders are very clear. French is spoken in France and German – in Germany” (comment: this argument is plain wrong. Yes, the borders are clear (as they are in Ukraine, in fact they are clearer in Ukraine since they were drawn around the first world war, while other european countries still changed afterwards). But the borders are not clear because of the languages that are used. Belgium? Switzerland? Südtirol? Austria and Germany speak both German? Schottland, Ireland, England?)
He concludes that the “problem of ethnic self-determination is that there are no clear boundaries between Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians.”
He goes about saying more wrong things by saying that a country does not need to speak all languages but that it’s fine that there are different ones, where he takes Switzerland as an example. While it is somewhat true in switzerland, it is also not: many things are only accessible in French or German (such as Universities) and there is actually a fourth language, Romanch, that basically gets you nowhere. Furthermore, there are countries where there simply is a pre-dominant language (say in Italy, there is also sicilian) and where there is an “official language”. Actually a very well known concept in many countries.
In lecture 9, he claims that ethnicities either live like in Switzerland all with equal rights, that they assimilate (a long, smooth process), or that they are a melting pot, like in the US (where he makes the wild claim that you can speak any language at will. Utterly wrong. Nobody will understand you. Except right that you can and you don’t get arrested, well yeah).
In lecture 10, it’s about that the east and west of Ukraine are somewhat different (comment: like in many, many other countries too (or north/south etc)!). Buth that’s when it’s also interesting, because he claims that the Ukrainian presidents Poroshenko and Zelenskyy (comment: the two presidents after the 2014 revolution) don’t want that and that they did do nothing to “denazify” the country. Wild claim somehow, maybe because he also brought up Bandera?
Lecture 11 continues the same propaganda style bs. For example “[with many wars in Ukraine, they all ended that Ukraine was part of the Great Russian Lands], but it all ended in the great Soviet Union, in which Ukraine became as rich as we discussed earlier”. Again, Soviet Union is portrayed as great and that Ukraine was rich there. Then he claims that “Ukraine is very serious. It has power. That power they decided to directed against Russia. It has been directed. The costs were huge [referring to 2014 Maidan revolution], but the result was good. It could have been even better, but at a certain stage, Russia ran out of patience.
Let’s get steep
In lecture 12, he argues about the “myth” that Russia is Ukraines only enemy (comment: so far, no one else invaded, pressured and invaded (yes, two times), Ukraine). He goes on and says that “[…] Russia is not an enemy to Ukraine“. This is where we need to rethink: such a statement – and this is done after the invasion (!) – simply disqualifies the lecturer completely. And a “university” that is offering these lectures is hardly to be considered a “university”. This is a propaganda institution and a loyal speaker.
Everything else, accepting this as “science”, is a blatant insult to the scientific community. The summary would stop here, were it not for a few laughters to follow.
The other reason why Russia is not the only enemy he claims is that Ukraine does not have allies (comment: there is a lot of support for “no allies” now). For example, he says, Poland has rather occupied it. (if you did not yet laugh: that was the same as Russia did as well for centuries! *sarcasm on* But that was of course something compleeeetly different. Ukraine just does not know it. So big brother Russia has to come and tell them that. *sarcams off*).
He claims explicitly that Warsaw is not supporting Ukraine. Read the news. They are. Because they know very well what it is to be like under Russia. And who may be next.
This is anyway the end of the lecture.
The Contradictions of Ukrainian Identity. Part 1
Nicklolai Mezhevich, Doctor of Economics
Professor, Department of European Studies
Understanding the current situation in Ukraine is necessary in order to correctly assess the past and make predictions for the future.
Here too, ethnography is indispensable. In general, there are several views on the Ukrainian identity in the international
and Russian historiography. Let us reduce them to two concepts. The first concept is to consider the Ukrainian people a separate nation
and study the history of this nation, delving as deeply as possible into the past. That is to proceed from the fact that
(well, I will not go as far back as that anecdote about the Black Sea, which was dug by ancient Ukrainians,
but to the fact that Kievan Rus is the state of Ukrainians). IX century, the Ukrainian state… Given that there was neither a French
nor a German state, the Polish state had not yet been inhabited by Poles, and Sweden – by the Swedes in the modern sense.
Well, it looks a little strange, but let’s assume that as the first concept. That is, a separate nation, tracing its history as far back as possible.
A certain part of the Russian specialists on Ukraine share this point of view, and accordingly, they view the history of Ukraine
and the ethnography and history of Ukraine in this way. An alternative point of view, the second point of view suggests
that there is some single complex, very complex ethnic complex, a nation consisting of three branches: the Great Russian branch,
the Little Russian branch, and the Belarusian branch. And all of these together make one nation. This concept does not belong
to the Soviet era, it still has followers today. Similar theses were voiced by the President of the Russian Federation.
But even under the tsars, or already under the tsars, there were many historians, ethnographers, and ethnologists,
some certainly of Ukrainian origin, who believed precisely so. What is important for us in this seemingly academic discussion?
What is important for us is that if we are talking about one nation, existing as it is in three forms, then our internal problems
and conflicts are conflicts within a family. They are not even conflicts of cousins (a Russian, a Belarusian, and a Ukrainian have cousins
– a Pole, a Slovak, a Croatian, and a Czech. These are cousins). But we are brothers. Can brothers not have disagreements?
Of course, they cannot. Can’t siblings have their own families afterwards? Naturally, they all have their own families.
But they remain siblings. There is a great deal of discussion about this and there are certain grounds for each of the two versions.
I rather gravitate towards that version that the matter concerns a complex, three component substratum,
and I can prove it among other things by the following example: let us imagine that we have a peaceful, calm time,
preferably even Soviet. And we get on a train, as I did dozens of times in Moscow and we go to Czechoslovakia,
or to Hungary, or to Poland. Especially in the case of Czechoslovakia and Hungary, we always go through Ukraine.
When we leave Moscow, which is so Russian and typical, we go to Smolensk, or to Belgorod, or to Voronezh, and we understand
that this is Russia. In the Soviet Union there are no borders, we ride on and we are in Kharkiv Oblast and Poltava Oblast.
Do we see any changes outside the window? Yes, we see that the landscape is changing, the village wooden houses are being replaced
by whitewashed clay-walled huts, sometimes with a touch of blue, the appearance of churches is changing.
But we come out at the stations, we speak the same language, and we meet the same people. We live in the same mentality,
as they say now. We get on the train again, we ride on, and we get to Kiev, which had
(and, strictly speaking, nobody has cancelled this yet) the title of one of the greatest Russian cities. We understand that the situation here
is a bit different, we even notice, if we are philologists, or simply have a feel for the language, that there are much more Ukrainianisms,
that it is not quite Russian and not exactly Surzhyk – this is some more literary Ukrainian language that they speak,
but again we board the train and go to Lviv. And we come across yet another version that it is not even literary Ukrainian,
it is a Western Ukrainian dialect. And our compartment neighbour, cutting lard, says: “I am from the Chernihiv Region,
I can only understand a half of what that guy in Lviv says”. That is an exaggeration, but there are differences in language, culture,
and traditions. There are some, but the come very slowly and gradually. And then we reach the famous railway station of Chop
in Transcarpathia. In the Soviet Union they used to say: “Don’t say ‘Gop’ until you’ve passed Chop”,
meaning that they might force you back to the Soviet Union.
So, we pass Chop and then we end up in Czechoslovakia. Today it is just Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
And we are surprised to find that the Slavonic language is spoken there, people walk about the same,
they are dressed in the same clothes, i.e. up to Brno and Karlovy Vary, on the western border of Czechoslovakia, we do not see
any dramatic changes in the social, cultural, and linguistic environment. It is changing slowly and smoothly. Take the borders
between Hungary and Romania, Germany and France, for example. Yes, everyone in the European Union is friends
but these borders are very clear. French is spoken in France and German – in Germany. Alsace and Lorraine
have long ago switched to French, although German was once understood there, too. So, the problem of ethnic self-determination
is that there are no clear boundaries between Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians. And when we look at the map of Great Ukraine
(here in front of us we can see what the Great Ukraine looks like) and we see that this Great Ukraine has claims
on all its neighbours and stretches to the Caspian Sea, we understand that people who are part of other ethnoses,
but close to Ukrainian, have been signed up to be Ukrainians.
Well, one more example: I brought a visual aid on purpose.
The Contradictions of Ukrainian Identity. Part 2
Nickolai Mezhevich, Doctor of Economics
Professor, Department of European Studies
Of course, the debates about where Russians end and Ukrainians begin, where Ukrainians end and Belarusians begin,
these discussions are somewhat academic in nature. Even until very recently, when it was easy to cross the border,
no one could say where Slobozhanshchina and the Belgorod region ended and where the Kharkiv region began.
People are the same, languages are the same, life is the same by and large. I purposely brought this item. This is a vyshyvanka.
This is the national pattern. Question: whose is this national pattern – Ukrainian, Russian or Belarusian?
In fact, it is Belarusian, but how does it differ from the Russian (especially North-Russian)? Very little. Because in the Vologda region,
in the south of Karelia, the patterns are practically the same. And if you adjust the colours, as they say today, in Photoshop,
it will not be Belarusian, but purely Ukrainian embroidery. The geometry of the patterns is 100% the same, and colours can be,
by the way, the same, or can be more blue, as the first President of Ukraine liked to wear. Why did I use this example?
Because for the last thirty years, our opponents have been focusing on proving not our similarity and not even our uniqueness,
but on proving that we are the opposite. This is how Ukraine is different from Belarus and from Russia.
Alexandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko allowed and still allows himself very original statements sometimes. Once he said:
“A Belorussian is a Russian with a quality mark”. I was very pleased though not everyone in Moscow liked this formula.
In fact, let’s face it, he is not a poet, not a poet at all, but he wanted to say that we are brothers and relatives
so we do not need to put up this identity breaker between the Belarusians and the Russians. In Ukraine they went the other way.
In Ukraine, they consciously started to create the political or state Ukrainianism. In other words, it was no longer an ethnicity,
it was a political nation. More importantly, is the idea of Ukrainianism as a method of shaping a nation wrong?
The answer is not obvious. Two approaches are possible. The ethnic basis, when all people born Ukrainian
according to thier passports become the substrate for the formation of political Ukraine. Then Mr. Zelenskiy
has nothing to do in such Ukraine, the Russians have nothing to do in such Ukraine, and the Tatars, the Armenians
have nothing to do in such Ukraine either. They are ethnically different. In Estonia and Latvia they went down this road:
they allow only natural born Estonians into the nation. A Russian can change his name, take an Estonian surname,
but he will not be a fellow-citizen. Yes, he is a citizen of Estonia, he speaks Estonian like an Estonian, yes, he even thinks like an Estonian,
but he will never be a native. Kiev’s idea was clear: because of a complex ethnic composition (and we have an illustration of that)
to rely the political awareness that we are all Ukrainians. That is, Russian is Ukrainian, Tatar is Ukrainian, Jew is Ukrainian.
The concept would be good, if not for one nuance. A Russian-Ukrainian or a Tatar-Ukrainian, he, generally, did not ask for much.
He was willing to sacrifice a lot, the component of his ethnicity, but he wanted to teach his children at school in Russian or Tatar
and to perceive Ukrainian as a kind of a common language, after all, it is possible. In every family in Switzerland
(Switzerland is a special country for Ukraine in general; on the one hand it is a role model, and on the other hand it is the horizon,
which you are chasing all the time, but it keeps slipping away) in an Italian canton the newly-born children listen to their mothers
speaking in Italian, in a French one – in French, in a German – in German. There is no common language,
but then it turns out that an Italian child naturally knows at least German and French. But in general, surprising someone in Switzerland
with speaking four languages is impossible. Here a different bet was made: you may have listened to your mother in Russian,
but you will go to kindergarten in Ukrainian. This breaking was seen as an acceptable sacrifice for the good of the Ukrainian state.
And so this rejection of a mixed, dual identity seemed to be a success. But another problem occurred: what Ukrainian identity
could be acieved, let’s say, in a family where the father is Tatar and the mother is Ukrainian?
Where exactly does the mother come from? From near Lviv – that’ one thing.
From Bila Tserkva near Kiev – another, from Kharkiv region – the third, from the Crimea, excuse me – the fourth.
And this issue turned out to be very difficult for Ukraine.
Achieving National Unity in Ukraine in the Light of International Experience of National Identity Building
Nickolai Mezhevich, Doctor of Economics
Professor, Department of European Studies
There are, in general, several ways (only a few) to solve the problems of internal ethnic unity. The first option is
to give all the linguistic and ethnic groups roughly equal rights. That, is the road to Switzerland. The second option is assimilation.
Slow, long, gradual, smooth – in general, even in France it has not ended in 600 years. Even today, despite the fact
that literary French has existed for centuries, the southern, northern, western, and eastern dialects, still grate on the ear, as they say,
if not spoken in their own region. D’Artagnan (remember The Three Musketeers) in Paris was certainly understood, but everyone smiled
at hearing his accent. Somewhat reminiscent in of the Ukrainian experience. So, the first option, like in Switzerland is equality,
while France means slow, very smooth and almost painless assimilation. And the third option, the American one:
something like a melting pot, where the state controls almost nothing at all. You can speak Italian at will, speak Polish in Chicago at will,
speak Spanish in Los Angeles at will (which is actually has been happening for a long time now), but there is a state language
which is just paperwork, nothing more. When I was a student, for many years there was a professor (now an academician)
Pyotr Tolochko, a prominent Ukrainian historian, working in Kiev. And he had recently written that the consolidation of the Ukrainian society
was a daunting task. “Western,” he wrote, “and Eastern Ukraine have different historical experiences. It is different,
and these differences are visible to Ukrainians, but not to, say, Czechs or to most non-specialists from Russia. In Volhynia
they believe in Shukhevych and Bandera, they do, yes. They know that they are Nazi criminals? Yes, they know. They are ok with it.
But in the East they don’t, not even now. “So,” Tolochko writes, “here’s the idea: in the West, if you like Bandera and Shukhevych,
let you celebrate them with some festivals of your own. In the East we will have our own festivals. You like the red and black flag – fine.
In the East, let it be their own flag. If you want to go to the Greek Catholic Church, go ahead, in the East they will go to
the Moscow Patriarchate. That is, give everybody the right to live independently in a united Ukraine which we all love”.
So wrote the academician. But that is exactly what neither Zelenskiy nor Poroshenko were happy with. Well, as for Yanukovych,
who preceded Poroshenko, his course in this matter is difficult to determine, he avoided nationalism, but he did not take consistent steps
consistent steps towards denazification either. Well, the result, in general, is well known. Here is the well-known Stepan Bandera,
(it is not the current day statistics, it is outdated, but that is good, because now the situation in Ukraine is too politicized, so to say),
so in Western Ukraine 70% of the population considers Bandera a positive hero. In the Central – only 30%, and in the East – 14-13%.
And Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, Lesya Ukrainka (the outstanding Ukrainian authors) will be voted for with pleasure
in the West, in the East, in the North and in the South. True, there will be problems with Gogol. I was once told in Lviv
that Gogol is not a Ukrainian writer. I was surprised and told that “there’s nothing to be surprised about: he wrote in your, Moscal dialect,
dialect so he’s your writer, not ours”. So when I found out about a number of Soviet generals, scientists, composers
and even American scientists, servicemen, composers, that since they were born in Ukraine,
they were Ukrainians (for example, Sikorsky or Korolev), it was certainly a shock. But this selective attitude to their history
(let’s read it here, but not there; this is ours, that is not ours) is the most serious trauma. Hence the concept of the Great Ukraine
and the desire to get and to embrace deliberately more than what can be embraced, for it is not possible to embrace their own territory.
In general, the desire to rewrite history in Ukraine has a very long tradition, and it is connected, oddly enough,
to Moscow and St. Petersburg writers, scholars, cultural figures or figures of Ukrainian culture and literature, who lived and worked
in Moscow and St. Petersburg. This trend is sometimes referred to as folkloric, and initially it evoked only support and smiles.
External factor in the policy of opposing Ukraine and the Ukrainian people to Russia and the USSR
Nickolai Mezhevich, Doctor of Economics
Professor, Department of European Studies
Students once asked me what Gogol or Kostomarov, respectively a writer and a historian, would say if they were asked,
“What kind of writer and historian are you? Ukrainian or Russian?”. I looked for an answer for a long time
and came to this conclusion: probably they would have said, “We did not understand your question, say it again”.
But then there would have been no answer either. For Moscow and Petersburg at least the external ethnographic difference between
Russian provinces and provinces of Ukraine, was obvious. And this passage through Slobozhanshchina, through the former wild field,
was very interesting. It was very interesting for historians and writers, and it was originally of research character.
The Imperial Russian Geographical Society in St. Petersburg was engaged in it, but no one could imagine at the beginning
of the 19th century that by the end of the 19th century Austria-Hungary and Poland would make a huge effort
(yes, and Poland, which did not excist officially) to treat Ukraine as an outskirt of the future Great Polish state and the future outskirt
of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was enormous, but, as it turned out, sorely lacked land. The idea was actually brilliant
in its simplicity: to prove that Ukrainians are not a branch, not part of the Russian people (not of Great Russian,
but just Russian people), but part (you will be surprised) of the Polish people, that Poles are true Slavs.
“You, Ukrainians, are almost true, and we will make you normal in Poland”.
That was a clear return to the pre-Khmelnytsky times. And those Russians are not Russians at all, they are the Mordva and Moksha,
mixed with Tatars and Mongols. For all the absurdity of this concept, it has lain on well-fermented soil in Western Ukraine.
Dozens of books on the subject appeared to substantiate this point of view (and almost all the books from the XIX century
got rewritten or republished in modern Ukraine). Such a concept, if successfully implemented, assumed
that Ukraine could become a battering ram against Russia. Then there were two wars. World War I, World War II. And for all their difference,
they ended the same way for Ukraine: most Ukrainian lands remained a part of the Great Russian lands. Yes, there were communists,
yes, there were various problems, but it all ended in the great Soviet Union, in which Ukraine became as rich
as we discussed earlier. And so the task was (and the task was largely accomplished) to prove that we are different from them,
not even as cousins, but simply as strangers. It was a decades-long task, and it has almost been realised in decades.
Neither Estonia, nor Latvia, nor Lithuania were suitable for the role of a battering ram against Russia. Could one million Estonians
be a battering ram? Surely not. The Estonian economy, excuse me, is similar to that of Kupchino District in St. Petersburg.
The budget revenues of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are less than the budget revenues of Berlin. This is surely not a battering ram.
Ukraine is very serious. It has power. That power they decided to directed against Russia. It has been directed.
The costs were huge (not just those biscuits on Maidan), but the result was good.
It could have been even better, but at a certain stage, Russia ran out of patience.
The “Polish” and “Turkish” illusions of the Ukrainian establishment in the wake of Ukraine’s historical experience
Nickolai Mezhevich, Doctor of Economics
Professor, Department of European Studies
The title of our course is “Ukraine: morphology and mythology”. Let us talk about mythology. Actually we have already touched
upon this issue. Let`s talk some more about it. One of myths is that the only enemy of Ukraine is Russia. This is a myth twice:
firstly, because Russia is not an enemy to Ukraine, and secondly, because Ukraine has extremely complicated relations
with all its neighbours. But would Kiev admit that? Today, or a year ago, or two, or three, or five? No.
These problems, as we say here, are swept under the carpet. But we will talk about them. Let’s talk about
the great Ukrainian myth that Kiev has allies – Warsaw, i.e. Poland, and Ankara, i.e. Turkey. But Kiev has no such allies.
Since the late Middle Ages Poland has viewed Ukraine as a source to be drained for quite some time, if not indefinitely.
Numerous Ukrainian uprisings and haidamatchina resulted in Poland restraining its expansionist impulses
on several occasions, trying to drag some of the wealthy Ukrainian Cossacks (or better still Zaporozhye Cossacks)
to its side, but it has not stopped its expansionist attempts altogether. Not only the Polish, but even the polonised Ukrainian nobility
called their peasants “bydlo” – a Polish for “cattle”. And the Khmelnytsky uprising resulted not only from the contradictions
between the Cossacks and Poland, but also within the Cossack community. It is another fact that undermines the myth
that the Cossack community was well integrated. It was split along the property lines. And most importantly, Warsaw provoked this split
and used it to its advantage, drawing the richest part of the Cossacks to its side (as registered cossacks) and pushing others
in the direction of Moscow. Poland has always sought Ukrainian lands. Today in Kiev it is hardly mentioned that
the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (ZUNR) was seized and destroyed by Pilsudski, that the Poles promised a frontier for Ukraine,
but in the end the Red Army had to fight for it with great difficulty. The Polish army still considers the capture of Kiev on 7 May 1920
to be their great feat. In fact, they took Kiev together (Pilsudski and Petliura) and then Petliura was left out.
The Polish-Ukrainian contradictions were obvious to Austria-Hungary, which, in turn, tried to stir them up.
The problem in Volhynia, when the Banderites, the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) destroyed Polish villages,
has a certain historical predetermination, because this part of Volhynia, the western Ukrainian borders, has been the area of mixed,
joint settlement of Poles and Ukrainians. Today, for the most part, Ukrainians live on one side of the border and Poles on the other,
but the memory of the Ukrainian victims of polonisation in the 1930s in Western Ukraine
(before Western Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union) is also alive, and so is the memory of the victims of Volhynia.
Does Warsaw support Kiev? No. It supports itself and will always support itself, i.e. Poland. And if for this purpose
it is necessary to say kind, pleasant words to any of the political elite of Ukraine, well, they will do so. But they will act the way
that is best for Poland. Actually, the whole XXI-XX century has shown it. Prometheism, the Polish conception of building the Great Poland
from one sea to the other, excludes the Ukrainian State, which also sees itself stretching between the seas.
It is either one or the other. No Polish-Ukrainian agreements can stand the test of time,
unless they are directed against Moscow. Then yes, there is some unifying, integrating force. But only in that case. The attempt
to build a Kiev-Ankara axis looks even stranger. It was Crimea, a vassal of Turkey, that was the main threat from the south
to the Cossacks and to any Ukrainian state. Millions of Ukrainians, future Ukrainians, Zaporozhians, Russians, Slobozhans,
and Poles went into slavery in Caffa (now Feodosia) and from there were sold all over the Arab world.
There is no religious or any other kinship here. There is only a faint hope that Istanbul will support Kiev against Moscow.
This is complete bullshit. The drones are being sold not because of Ankara’s love for Kiev, but because Kiev is willing
to pay European and American money for Turkish drones. Ankara is ready to sell those drones to anyone, in which case
there is no exclusivity for Kiev, and the discussion in March 2022 about closing/not closing the Turkish straits
showed that Turkey, for a number of opportunistic reasons, tries to play the role it is prescribed
by the Montreux Convention – to be, so to speak, above any fray. In my opinion, this should, shall we say, cool down
the insane hopes of the Kiev administration. But it is not working. There is an old adage: “It is impossible to understand the logic
of a layman”. Well, since the Kiev regime of Zelenskiy is non-professional,
it is indeed impossible to understand their logic, although it is our duty to try.