A “once-upon-a-time” fable about Ukraine, Putin and Europe

Sketch by Oleh Kovalchuk 

International, Ukraine

Article by: Bohdan Martsyniak Voloshyn

Once upon a time there was a young girl called Ukraine. She was young, beautiful and had a magnificent dowry – bountiful fields, wide rivers, and stately mountains. So, she was courted and romanced by many.

But, the most persistent and obnoxious suitor was her neighbour, Vanya, who loved to drink and annoy her. When inebriated, Vanya adored tugging Ukraine’s thick braids and grabbing her flower wreath. One day, he broke into Ukraine’s home completely pissed, put his feet on the table, took out his balalaika, and shouted loudly:

“I’m moving in! After all, we’re part of the same family; we’re of the same blood.”

No one came to Ukraine’s rescue, so Vanya settled in comfortably and lived off Ukraine’s generosity and wealth.  If he needed something, Vanya would take things from Ukraine’s home and sell them. But, he always needed more and more because he didn’t like to work. No matter how hard he tried, he somehow always ruined or damaged whatever he did. So, Vanya did what he knew best – play the balalaika, drink vodka, and eat borshch with salo.

One winter day, Ukraine could no longer put up with this so-called “relative” and threw him out of her house. The next day, she woke up to see several gentlemen waving at her. But, they were all standing behind the European fence. They were all so rich and polite and clean-looking, winking at her, joking with her… actually pulling the wool over her eyes, but she didn’t realize it yet.

When Vanya saw that no one wanted to cook his borshch or pour him a glass of vodka, he went on a rampage, broke into the girl’s house again, settled in her room and told everyone it belonged to him. He even held a referendum among his friends to make everyone believe that he was right, proclaiming that he’d always lived here. When Ukraine revolted against tyrannical and despotic Vanya, he began torturing and killing members of her family, lying to others and denying everything before the European neighbours.

Meanwhile, when the European gentlemen, who had been eyeing Ukraine, saw what Vanya had done, they were very troubled and concerned, but refused to help. They cried out noisily and wrung their hands so much that their limbs hurt and cramped… but, never stopped promising that they’d help Ukraine if ever she was in greater trouble. After all, they were gentlemen and would keep their word! They’d even arrange a visa-free regime for Ukraine so she could finally get across the fence and visit them, sign an association pact in sign of friendship, and accept her in NATO. Maybe… One day soon…. They postponed the date of the visa-free document several times – January 18, then February 1, and the last was April 3. Oh well, they should have proposed  April 1, April Fool’s day! After all, any fool would jump at the offer, even though the promises turned out to be so much hot air…

Sketch by Oleh Kovalchuk

Sketch by Oleh Kovalchuk

Meanwhile, trouble and despair had entered Ukraine’s home – murders, killings, kidnappings, theft, lies and deceit. Mad Vlad (or Vanya, as he was commonly known) was red with anger, bloodthirsty from drink and hatred of others. Vanya wanted more than just Ukraine and her good friend Georgia. So, he flew to visit an old acquaintance that lived far away – Syria – and demanded that she surrender to his group of buddies. He began killing Syria’s children, burnt her lovely home, and bombed her neighbourhood that was as ancient as time itself and had flourished when Vanya’s home in Moscow was just a huge swamp and wasteland.

And what about the European gentlemen? Well, they sat comfortably in their armchairs and continued worrying and promising. Once again they postponed the date for the visa-free regime. Seems a gentleman’s word is good only amongst themselves.

So, it was clear that the neighbouring European gentlemen view Ukraine as a Cinderella, but without the golden slipper – a housemaid, cleaner, or caregiver for the elderly – or she could come and work in their gardens and orchards or gather strawberries and other fruits. Let the poor orphan work; that’s all she’s good for! (the author refers to the many Ukrainian immigrant women who work in private European homes-Ed.)

The fact that Ukraine’s house protects the European homes from madman Vanya doesn’t seem to interest this European club of gentlemen. Well, because really – where and who is Ukraine? Where and who is Syria? Just foreign blood and foreign suffering…

The end of this fable should be optimistic, more hopeful. But, it hasn’t turned out that way… because fables are always full of wisdom, and not lies. So, I’ll end here by citing Ukrainian writer and poet Oleksandr Oles (1878-1944). The poem – Europe stayed silent – was written in 1931 as Ukrainians began to see the full horror of collectivization which led to the Holodomor, Stalin’s man-made famine.

Oleksandr Oles

Oleksandr Oles

When Ukraine fought the torturers
Giving life and death for its right to live,
Asking only for compassion,
Europe stayed silent.


When Ukraine lost blood and tears
In an unequal struggle,
Looking for friendly assistance,
Europe stayed silent.

When Ukraine, maimed, laboured for the master,
Dragging an iron yoke across the earth,
When even the mute mountains moved,
Europe stayed silent.

When Ukraine was dying,
Having reaped a bloody harvest for the torturer,
Too hungry even to speak,
Europe stayed silent.

When Ukraine cursed its life
And became a mass grave,
When the devil himself wept,
Europe stayed silent.



Translated by: Christine Chraibi

Source: VHolos

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