Throughout almost the entirety of the 23 years of independence, the Ukrainians have been constantly repeating mantra-like similar messages, which all come down to the following: in this time nothing has been done essentially for Ukrainity to not only develop, but survive; that there is no national idea; and Russia is advancing on all fronts: linguistic, cultural, economical, and now military and so forth. All of these opinions make one think that the Ukrainian identity is incredibly weak and helpless and will not survive without others’ help.
Part of these sentences really do have grounds. It is incredibly difficult to get rid of the burden of a former colony all at once, especially if this insane former metropolis remains near, with a clear and cunningly thought-out ideology. What is more, these messages are frequently produced by it through all of its information channels, taking advantage of the trust part of the population have towards its media.
However everything is not what it seems at first glance.
The Russian truth is dominating in the Ukrainian information and cultural spaces. It had much better starting points and does not shy away from making use of this fact.
As of today, Russian-language literature has the biggest number of editions, there are times more newspapers and magazines in Russian. Taking all of this into account, as well as the powerful TV propaganda machine with all the “Russian world” series and thematic movies, Ukrainity has not been marginalised, it did not disappear from the map of the world, but it survived and, in the light of recent events, rooted itself well in the face of Kremlin threats thanks to finding mutual understanding with friendly nations: Crimean Tatars and Jews, Armenians and Belorussians, Poles and Georgians and other peoples living in Ukraine.
When Russia took away Crimea, it was difficult to imagine that some time later there, in occupation, at the “last bell” celebration schoolchildren from Yalta would sing the Ukrainian anthem, shouting over the Russian one. Or that the cadets would do the same and, unwilling to see the Russian tricolour raised, would turn around and leave. And where are they doing this? Correct, in Sevastopol, the mythical city of “Russian glory” and “Russian sailors.” Of course, all of this irritates Putin and his local servants quite a bit, therefore the disobedient Yalta students and teachers were immediately punished.
Why do they punish them? Because all of this counters the myth of Ukraine’s doom quite well. It is really was this weak, then in the current conditions it would be slowly disappearing, it would be dissolved in Russia, hiding under the guise of locality or simply dying out.
However it turned out to be much stronger that it seemed at first glance. Also Putin and company are scared of another thing – we have not had a tradition of sovereignty for a long time and suddenly it makes an appearance, 23 years is not too little. Especially taking into account the incredibly short latest periods, when we were able to gain independence just a little.
The Kremlin understands that in a bit it may be completely void of its influence on the events in Ukraine, that the majority will finally and inevitably take the state position and nothing can be done about it, which is why they had to act. The time was well-chosen, however Moscow also heated up the anti-Russian and anti-Putin moods, raised up the patriotic spirit, added power to Ukraine.
Neither Valuyev documents nor Ems orders, nor GULAGs and Solovky, neither Petr I’s and Lenins, nor Stalins and Hitlers were unable to destroy Ukrainity, therefore their new incarnations will be unable to do so as well. The only horrible thing is that we have to prove the power of our people with deaths.
Source: Radio Svoboda
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina