Ordinary Russians and Ukrainians have been betrayed by their leaders

o13-iconMikhail Shishkin has been acclaimed as Russia’s greatest living author. He writes: The internet has brought the war into every home. Thanks to live broadcasts, you are now a witness to and participant in the street battles in Kiev, the rallies in Crimea, and the arrests in Moscow.

As I write these words, a red-headed 18-year-old girl unfurls her banner – “No to war” – on Manezh Square near the Kremlin. A policeman walks up to her with a megaphone: “Disperse! Your action is unsanctioned.” She shouts back: “This war of yours is unsanctioned!”

The criminals in power have pulled off an unforgivable and base trick. They have set Russians and Ukrainians against one another, and made language not a means of understanding but a weapon of hate.

We truly are brother nations. My mother is Ukrainian, and my father is Russian. There are millions of such mixed families in both Ukraine and Russia. Where are you going to draw the line between one and the other? How are you going to cut the ties that bind?

How are going to divide up Gogol? Is he a Russian or a Ukrainian classic? We share him. We share our pride in him.

How are we going to divide up our shared shame and our shared grief – our appalling history? The annihilation of the peasantry in Russia and the Holodomor in Ukraine? There were Russians and Ukrainians among the victims and executioners. We have common enemies: ourselves.

Our terrible common past has a death grip on both nations and is not letting us move into the future.

The Maidan protests were stunning for the daring and courage of the people who came out on the square “for our freedom and yours.” Most striking of all was the solidarity. I was gripped by admiration and envy. Here the Ukrainians were able to rise up and resist; they were not about to be brought to their knees.

The Putin TV anchors used their propaganda news in every possible way to create an image of Maidan’s defender as the Ukrainian bumpkin from the joke: crafty, greedy, stupid, and prepared to sell himself to the devil or the west; it didn’t matter which, just so he’d have his lard. A country with state television of that calibre should die of shame.

This kind of condescending attitude toward Ukrainians and the Ukrainian language has been accepted in Russia from time immemorial. The “younger brother” was loved for his cheerfulness, humour, and self-deprecation, but he remained the younger brother, and that meant he had to obey his older brother, learn from him, and try to be like him. The last few months have changed the course of history and revealed entirely different Ukrainians to Russians. The “younger brother” has turned out to be more mature than the older. Ukrainians were able to tell their embezzling government, “Gang, get out!” But we weren’t. Naturally, I’m envious. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email