The Ukrainian Institute has used as the occasion for this new discussion the 130th anniversary of the birth of Serhii Pylypenko who promoted Latinization not just of Ukrainian but of Russian as well in the 1920s (facebook.com and zbruc.eu).
Russian officials are angry; but one Russian writer, Anna Shershnyeva points out that Pylypenko is a more complicated figure than the Ukrainians may recognize and that, if one knows something about him, he may not be the person Kyiv should want to hang its hat on.
Pylypenko, she writes, was a convinced communist and viewed “a single (Latin) alphabet as a means of uniting various peoples who in the future could build communism. Indeed, he treated differences in alphabets as a manifestation of nationalism and an obstacle on the path to ‘participation in international cultures.”
Although he joined the Bolshevik party in 1919, Pylypenko became the leader of linguistics in Ukraine during the 1920s. “Possibly” for that reason, he was expelled from the party in 1933, arrested and shot, a history Shershnyeva says Ukrainians considering his ideas should remember.
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