Yanukovych faces uphill battle in getting Lviv to accept him

Print version
Feb. 18, 2010, 11:18 p.m. | Ukraine — by Natalia A. Feduschak

Supporters greet Victor Yanukovych, leader of the Party of the Regions, at a rally in his support in Kyiv on Feb. 5.
© (Yaroslav Debelyi)

Natalia A. Feduschak

Most worrisome for people here is Yanukovych’s promise to his compatriots in eastern Ukraine to make Russian a second official language in Ukraine. LVIV, Ukraine – President-elect Victor Yanukovych likes to say that Ukraine should serve as a “bridge” between Russia and the West. But, he will face an uphill struggle in building bridges with western Ukraine if he attempts to get Russian recognized as a second official language, introduces Donetsk-style management and disregards the region’s culture and history, according to political analysts and residents here.

“He’s not president yet,” said Anatoliy Romaniuk, a political analyst based in Lviv, the largest city in the Ukrainian-speaking west, which is often wary of Russia and sees Yanukovych as Moscow’s stooge. “But if he wants to have the support of others, he will have to make compromises. Our politicians don’t want to do that, but it’s something they will have to do.”

Although he edged out his opponent, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko nationally, Yanukovych lost western Ukraine in the Feb. 7 presidential runoff by wide margins. In Lviv Oblast, for instance, he garnered only 8.6 percent of the vote, compared to 86.2 percent for Tymoshenko.

In interviews, some residents said they still hoped the prime minister would be successful in disputing the election results and blocking a Yanukovych presidency. They believe falsifications occurred. Most, however, said they were concerned that once he takes office, Yanukovych will try to push through an agenda that is disruptive to the region and the country.

Most worrisome for people here is Yanukovych’s promise to his compatriots in eastern Ukraine to make Russian a second official language in Ukraine.

That would be foolhardy, warned Romaniuk.

“When we speak of the Russian language, it’s a complex question, and is even more complex than UPA or Bandera,” he said, referring to the controversial guerilla Ukrainian Insurgent Army, known by its UPA acronym, and its leader, Stepan Bandera, who fought for the Ukrainian national cause in the 1940s and early 1950s in western Ukraine. “It’s a very emotional issue.”

Yanukovych would quickly find he had little support to move the language question through parliament because the fractious, but nationally-oriented, faction of Our Ukraine would quickly turn on him.

“Unless he’s suicidal or a masochist, he won’t raise the issue,” Romaniuk said.

Boris Kolesnikov, one of Yanukovych’s closest advisers, appeared to concede the point when he told journalists on Feb. 10 that Yanukovych’s Party of Regions currently didn’t have enough votes to institute Russian as a second official language. When asked how Yanukovych would treat more controversial aspects of Ukrainian history, such as the activities of UPA, he said: “It is important to have a fair attitude toward history and to attract to its investigation foreign sources.”

Kolesnikov’s statement can be treated selectively, but it underscores the unease Yanukovych and his team feel when dealing with western Ukraine.

On a campaign stop here recently, Yanukovych told journalists he liked the region’s “genocide.” The gaffe-prone politician meant to say that he liked the region’s gene pool.

Still, it was an unfortunate word to use in a region that suffered mass repressions and executions when the Soviets ruled it from 1939-1941, and then after 1944, cracked down on any Ukrainian nationalist sentiment.

In a televised interview immediately following the Feb. 7 presidential run-off, Hanna Herman, Yanukovych’s deputy, said one of his priorities would be to build bridges with Ukraine’s western regions.

“It is important that Victor Fedorovych becomes president for western Ukraine also,” she said at the time.

Herman offered no specifics on how he intended to do that. But her statement underscores another problem Yanukovych faces in the west. Other than Herman, who grew up in Lviv, Yanukovych doesn’t have any nationally prominent figure from his team who could be a link between the region and Kyiv. Using Herman as that bridge, analysts and those interviewed here said would be a tragic mistake. She is even more disliked and distrusted in western Ukraine than Yanukovych himself.

“She doesn’t have any authority here,” said Sofia Dyak, a Lviv historian. “I don’t know who they have who can speak with us.”

Romaniuk, the political analyst, said if Yanukovych wants to succeed in the west, he will have to appoint a neutral figure as governor, someone who is tied to the region and knows its traditions.

“Lviv is so symbolic that no president can shut their eyes to it. He will have to have a policy that is more balanced toward the region,” he said.

In an attempt to address concerns, Petro Pysarchuk, the head of Yanukovych’s campaign headquarters in Lviv Oblast, issued a statement that was reprinted in local papers this week.

“The Ukrainian language will not be humiliated. New forced Russification, which they scared you with, will never happen,” he noted. “Just the opposite. We will look for financial possibilities to preserve and restore unique architectural memorials, to properly finance theatres, cultural establishments, support publishers of Ukrainian-language books and talented youth. Ukraine will never become a province of the Russian Federation. Ukraine will become an equal partner to European nations.”

Vasyl Khomenko, a driver who worked for Yanukovych in Lviv, said he believed that if the president-elect can raise living standards and get the economy in order, people in western Ukraine will support him.

“But it has to be the economy,” Khomenko said.

Silently, some here believe because the margin of victory was so narrow, this presidential election is good for Ukraine. They hope that Yanukovych’s grip over eastern Ukraine will finally be broken, reasoning that it is only a matter of time before voters there become disillusioned with their leader. That will make eastern Ukrainians more willing to vote into power new political forces, according to this hope.

As for western Ukraine, Yanukovych will likely have to contend for several more years with his Orange Revolution foes: current Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and outgoing president Victor Yushchenko. Although many western Ukrainians are disappointed with their infighting, both politicians remain popular in western Ukraine. Romaniuk said western Ukrainians could still forgive Yushchenko for his tumultuous presidency. Smaller political parties could consolidate around Yushchenko, who will become a pragmatic representative of more nationally-conscience forces in the western region, he added.

Natalia A. Feduschak is the Kyiv Post’s correspondent in western Ukraine. She can be reached at
The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively debate. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. If you think that a posted comment violates these standards, please flag it and alert us. We will take steps to block violators.
Anonymous Feb. 18, 2010, 11:46 p.m.    

"Most worrisome for people here is Yanukovych’s promise to his compatriots in eastern Ukraine to make Russian a second official language in Ukraine."

Why should the feel so threatened by him wanting to recognize the native tongue of a large percentage of Ukraine's population?

Lots of countries give official recognition to minority languages - like Canada, Finland, Ireland, India. Belgium even recognizes German as an official language - even though the Belgian-German community is tiny, as does Switzerland with the Romansh language.

There must be something wrong with the people in Lviv if they can only feel good about themselves if 30% of the population is marginalized in their own country!

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 18, 2010, 11:54 p.m.    

Thank you, thats the point!

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 4:29 a.m.    


{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 7:02 p.m.    

People that want to call Western Ukrainians Nazis, please explain your definition of Nazism? Let alone Fascism? Then equate how Ukrainians today are Nazis? If you are a Russian-leaning Ukrainian, that is your own free right of how you want to think. But it remains a fact that during WWII more Russians joined the ranks of the Nazis than Ukrainians did. However, wouldn't it be foolish for Ukrainians to call all Russians Nazis? So why label people based on mistruths? Educate yourselves on both sides of this argument and then decide if you want to act ignorant.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 12:29 a.m.    

Lviv is the centre of the Ukrainian Nazism - that answers everything and I know because I was one of them.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 3:53 a.m.    

You &quot;guest&quot; are full of russian himno, to say Western Ukraine is the centre of Ukrainian nazism, what you really meant to write but probably do not know how to spell is Lviv is the centre of Ukrainian Nationalism. The latter is the reality.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 10:43 a.m.    

No, he is right, it is Nazism and we are prod of it.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 3 a.m.    

No matter how large percentage of Russian speaking populations is, it is still a significant minority in Ukraine. The native language is the language of majority and shall remain the status of the state language. All languages of minorities have equal status.

Last time I checked the official status of RF is Russian. Ukrainian has no status at all in Russia despite of 3 000 000 Ukrainians living there. Not one Ukrainian school or institution.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 1:52 a.m.    

He will never make Russian a second official language because according to Ukraine's constitution he would need support of 300 deputies in parliament.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 4:26 a.m.    


{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 10:39 a.m.    

I would suggest German as the second official Ukrainian language because most of those who try to escape Ukraine go to Germany.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 4:37 a.m.    

Forget Ukrainian too. It's just a country bumkin language used by the Western Ukrainians and diaspora anyway.Ukrainian is so little spoken in the world it's a redundent language.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 12:05 p.m.    

You katsapy can speak your language. No one is denying you that. Any other ethnic groups can speak their language. This happens all around the civilised world. When in Rome do as the Romans. So the same applies to Ukraine. In Ukraine speak Ukrainian and abide by its rules. If you want russian as the main language feel free to make use of it in... russia. End of story ! The next train to moscow departs in 2 hours.


{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 12:42 p.m.    

AGAIN A FAKE POST UNDER MY PSEUDONYM. Kyiv Post please delete my impersonators postings.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 4:46 a.m.    

You are more than welcome to forget whatever you like, but this is an issue for Ukrainians to decide, and rest assured the Ukrainian language will not be forgotten, and Russian will remain a second tier &quot;language of the street&quot;.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 10:41 a.m.    

You are wrong. For most foreigners a Ukrainian language doesn t even exist, they believe that this what they hear is Russian.

So why bother and speak Ukrainian when everybody anyway thinks its Russian. Russian is the solution.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 6:52 a.m.    



{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 6:54 a.m.    


{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 11:51 p.m.    

Agree, but I don't think that easterners have the ability to learn anything,but Russian. As you see they are still learning Ukrainian

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 11:33 a.m.    

Maybe they should be forced to learn Ukrainian , like the Ukrainians were forced to learn russian during russian occupation of Ukraine !

See if they like that !?

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 3:21 a.m.    

Before 1941 Lviv or Lvov was part of POLAND.

If one accepts that POLAND was part of the eastern Russian empire prior to the end of WW1. Then that is OK! Stalin reclaimed LVOV or LVIV after WW2.

If one can expect Poles to be loyal to the east, then just keep waiting! The fact that they are allowed at all to participate in a Ukrainian election is because of the good will of the Ukraine people.

The Poles have caused great distress to their neighbors for centuries since converting from Christian Orthodoxy.

Lech Walesa who, 'liberated' Poland after the 'rights his shipyard workers' at the Gdansk (Danzig) shipyard was 'threatened' by their then rulers has since witnessed the demise of these shipyards and all ship building in Poland because of the policies adopted by the Western European imperialist (EU - NEW WORLD ORDER) takeover of Poland. If polish people were happy with western NWO (EEC, IMF, World Bank &amp; WTO) economics then why are now poor &amp; hungry and in Britain looking for work and begging on the streets. Poland was better off when it was part of the Hapsburg empire. SAY NO TO THE WALL STREET &amp; WESTERN EUROPEAN BANKERS' 'NEW WORLD ORDER'!

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 11:48 p.m.    

...However those Ukrainians that live in Ukraine are not brainwashed as easterners and reagadless that they were under occupancy of Poland they do speak Ukrainian and it is the most beautiful language

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 12:28 a.m.    

yes yes yes

the most beautiful language in the world !

yes yes yes

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 3:59 a.m.    

Lets make Ukrainian the second official language of Russia, after all, the Russians say the Ukrainians are their Slavic brothers. I do not see anything wrong with that. Then Ukraine should consider making Russian an official language, and only then.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 6:26 a.m.    

Lviv will gladly accept Viktor Fedorovych - as a target for egg throwing. Beware Pane President because our chickens have been working overtime!

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 11:18 a.m.    

Yep - your chickens seem to be the only ones that work at all in Lvov. All others are still in work training courses lead by volunteers from International Red Cross

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, noon    

You are an imposter Captain Ukraine.

Im the real Captain Ukraine - fighter of all evil that exists in Ukraine. Im coming to get you and all the others from Donb-ass !


{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 12:39 p.m.    

Typical Moskal - stealing other's identities and faking posts of real Ukrainians who give them chance posting here without restrictions! You are a SHULER !!!!

CAPTAIN UKRAINE (the REAL one) fighting Nazis from all over Ukraine !

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 12:33 a.m.    

Yes, but he is lucky... we could be throwing shoes!

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 1:22 a.m.    

Did the Red Cross Humanitarian Aid trucks arrive in Lviv last week ? Then you should have some shoes now. But better wear them than throw away.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 8:44 a.m.    







{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 8:55 p.m.    

The only flogging you do is on yourself homo.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 11:18 a.m.    

Eastern and southern Ukraine, come to think of t all of Ukraine did not support Support Yushchenko either.

The fact remains that the presidential system has and fill always fail Ukraine. The sooner Ukraine remove power and authority from the president and adopt a demopcra7tic parliamentary system of governance in line with European standards.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 2:09 p.m.    

Western Ukrainians never really supported Yulia Tymoshenko, who is herself an entrenched member of the pro-Russian elite.

The only difference between Tymo and Yanuk, was that Tymo was ready to tell people in Lviv what they wanted to hear, but without the slightest intention of keeping her word.

In the end, not enough Western Ukrainians believed Tymoshenko. And that's a good thing, because it will force people in Western Ukraine to create their own political movement instead of depending on the artificial support of BYT.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 2:11 p.m.    

In Lviv itself, if we talk about use of the Ukrainian language, nothing will change under Yanukovich comparing to the situation under Yuschenko. So the people have nothing to worry about on that count.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 12:30 a.m.    

True, but in terms of publications, etc.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 4:50 p.m.    

be patient my dear fellow ukranians

our brothers and sisters in russia are our true friends

together we will get rid of this lviv vermin 5% or less of the cuntry

but as we are democratic and i am the presidente i assure you that

KOZAKS control and govern everything from dnieper to volga...

galicia and galician minority of 400 thousand can get f^&amp;*d.

what matters is our indivisible and brotherly union of the commonwealth of independent nations of which UKRAINE is a serious player



{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 1:54 a.m.    

Have you just by chance stepped out of a time machine from a very long time ago?

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 6:45 p.m.    

Well , there you go again !!!

Writing ..... &quot; Although he edged out his opponet .... &quot; !!!!!!!!

Statistics are great ! ' 90% ' of the populatlion ( previous article ) may be Russian sympathizers even tho' the election

results didn't show that. But , even accepting your statistics

the election HAS NOT BEEN WON by anybody. It is in a state of

dispute ! Charged is NOT acquited !

This type of logic and media propaganada is akin to saying that

someone is ' guilty ' when they have only been ' charged '. The available evidendence at the moment may be pointing in their direction, but , that does not mean they are, yet , guilty or ' acquiteded ' .... that remains to be proven.

So, until BYT's evidence has been fully weighed by the courts the election results are in suspension. There is NO winner .

Your writing as though it is a done deal is akin to media medelling in the thought processes of the public. This type of reporting should also be taken to court. Your article loses all credibility at the point where you declare the Party of Regions the de facto winners.

My arguement does not side with one or the other of the contenders to the presidency , but , rather , addresses the illogical processes that eventually end up as corruption. My view is that the press/media should set the example of clear thinking and lead the public in exemplary judgement.

It seems that BYT's major error is the failure to see the significance of the Russian language and roots in the Ukrainian nation. Still, this should NOT be an excuse for illogical thinking.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 7:04 p.m.    

u have the most truthful comment on this blog

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 19, 2010, 7:11 p.m.    

english unites the wext and russian unites the east,

russia its people languges culture is as great but perhaps greater than yhe english

yushenko could not change that, and jusy made a full of himself

russia is a fantastic nation, greater than amaeicans

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 1:39 a.m.    

chinese rules the east, russian shortly will rule only moskow

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 11:24 a.m.    

Wait till the muslims get there ! HA ! HA! HA! HA!

Minarets and mosques and burqua clad women. Bring it on !

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 6:55 a.m.    

Here is the opinion of one Ukrainian patriot, Oleh Chornohuz, with which no other patriot could possibly disagree:

For me, the Russian language is the unstoppable flow of Ukrainian blood spilled by our “elder Russian brother” who, according to his birth records, is by far the younger brother. With this blood we, Ukrainians, have written our history. And when we read our bloody history, we have to take sedatives and ponder the question: why was (is) this relationship called the “friendship of fraternal nations?”

For me, the Russian language is robbery committed in broad daylight before the eyes of the entire civilized world: the co-opting of the name of a neighbouring country (Kyivan Rus’-Ukraine) and its inclusion in all the maps of the world by supplanting the term “the state of Muscovy” with the words “Russian Empire” (1713).

For me, the Russian language is the condemnation and anathema proclaimed by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church against the “new Kyivan books” of the Ukrainian theologians Petro Mohyla, Kyrylo Stavrovetsky-Tranquillon, and Simeon Polotsky (1690).

For me, the Russian language is the deliberate burning of all the original Ukrainian historical annals, the literary heritage of Kyivan Rus’, the treaties of hetmans Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Ivan Vyhovsky—our historical memory.

For me, the Russian language is the ukase issued by Tsar Peter I, prohibiting the printing of books in the Ukrainian language and the excision of passages from liturgical books.

For me, the Russian language is the crucifixion of Ukraine. It is the millions of bones of Ukrainian Cossack prisoners of war, which are literally immured in the foundations of St. Petersburg, the capital of Muscovy (1703); the all-out massacre of the Ukrainian population of Baturyn, the capital of the Ukrainian Cossack Hetmanate, after the Battle of Poltava (1709); the devastation of Zaporozhian Sich Cossack outposts; and the use of Ukrainian forced laborers on the White Sea Canal and other artificial channels.

For me, the Russian language is the command issued by Tsar Peter III to rewrite, from Ukrainian into Russian, all government decrees and regulations.

For me, the Russian language is the decree issued by Tsarina Catherine II, forbidding instruction in the Ukrainian language at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (1753).

For me, the Russian language is the closure of Ukrainian schools attached to regimental Cossack offices and the uninterrupted spilling of Ukrainian blood by the bayonets of their Muscovite “brothers” (1775).

For me, the Russian language is “the conquest of Siberia and the subjugation of the Crimea” (a line from Russian playwright Alexander Griboedov’s play Woe from Wit) as promoted by Russia’s poets and painters.

For me, the Russian language is the sentiment expressed by Russia’s pre-eminent poet Alexander Pushkin: “Humble thyself, O Caucasus, for Yermolov is coming.”

For me, the Russian language is the deportation of the larger and smaller nations of the Muscovite Empire to “unexplored Siberia.”

For me, the Russian language is the intensification of the brutal persecution of the Ukrainian language and culture in the 19th century, as exemplified by the prohibition of the finest works of Ukrainian writers.

For me, the Russian language is the closure of Ukrainian Sunday schools for adults in the Russian Empire (1862).

For me, the Russian language is the circular issued by Petr Valuev, tsarist Russia’s Chief of Gendarmes, who banned the printing of spiritual and popular-educational books in the Ukrainian language because “there never was, is not, and never will be a separate Ukrainian language” (1863-1876).

For me, the Russian language is the declaration of Dmitry Tolstoy, tsarist Russia’s education minister: “The end goal of the education of all foreigners should be their complete Russification” (1870).

For me, the Russian language is the Ems Ukase of Tsar Alexander II, which banned Ukrainian performances, the singing of Ukrainian songs, and even the printing of music notes accompanied by Ukrainian-language texts (1876).

For me, the Russian language is the prohibition against the translation of Russian literature into Ukrainian and the ban on publishing Ukrainian children’s books (1892).

For me, the Russian language is the closure by tsarist Russia’s Prime Minister Petr Stolypin of all Ukrainian cultural centers, associations, and printing houses; the prohibition against giving lectures in Ukrainian and organizing any kind of non-Russian clubs.

For me, the Russian language is the resolution passed by the 7th Noble Assembly in Moscow concerning the exclusivity of Russian-language education and the inadmissibility of using other languages of instruction in schools throughout the Russian Empire (1911).

For me, the Russian language is the interdiction against commemorating the 100th anniversary of Ukraine’s national poet Taras Shevchenko and the liquidation of the Ukrainian press (1914).

For me, the Russian language is the Russification campaign in western Ukraine, the prohibition on Ukrainian letters, education, and the church (1914-1916).

For me, the Russian language is the occupation of Ukraine by the Russian Bolsheviks and their red terror, organized by Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin.

For me, the Russian language is the summary executions of Ukrainian civilians in Kyiv by the cutthroats led by Soviet commander Mikhail Muravev simply because they spoke Ukrainian and some were wearing Ukrainian embroidered shirts (1918).

For me, the Russian language is the phenomenon of cannibalism during the first and second of the three famines that took place in Ukraine in the twentieth century (1921, 1932-33).

For me, the Russian language is the genocide, known as the Holodomor, which killed at least 10 million Ukrainian peasants, the finest farmers in the world, as Stalin informed Churchill during a conversation by indicating all the fingers of his two hands (1933).

For me, the Russian language is a crime without punishment. It is the Stalin-ordered deaths of tens of thousands of my innocent countrymen in the first days of the Second World War in the park named after the Soviet Russian writer Maxim Gorky in my native city of Vinnytsia.

For me, the Russian language is the poorly clothed, fed, and armed Ukrainian troops who were used as cannon fodder during World War Two to fend off the Nazi occupiers, who were armed to the teeth; ditto for the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

For me, the Russian language is the millions of Ukrainian refugees who fled to the West before the second Soviet invasion of western Ukraine (1943).

For me, the Russian language is the wholesale deportation of the Chechens and Ingushetians from their native lands during the Second World War.

For me, the Russian language is the complete assimilation of the peoples of the Muscovite Empire, be it tsarist, communist, or post-Soviet.

For me, the Russian language is the pledge “to kill, slaughter, hang, drown, and exile those ‘khokhols,’” the derogatory term with which our “fraternal” neighbors, the Russians, refer to Ukrainians.

For me, the Russian language is the political assassinations of the finest sons of my nation not only in Ukraine but outside its borders.

For me, the Russian language is Siberia, Kolyma, the Solovetsky Islands, and the hundreds of other death camps in the Soviet GULAG, where the most brilliant Ukrainian intellectuals of the twentieth century—poets, including blind ones, writers, scholars, academicians, scientists, and clergymen, bishops, and archbishops) met their untimely end.

For me, the Russian language is 21 January 1978, the day that Oleksa Hirnyk from the city of Kalush went to the gravesite of Ukraine’s national poet Taras Shevchenko in Kaniv, where he scattered a thousand handwritten leaflets protesting the Russification of the Ukrainian people. Then he doused himself with gas and raised a lighter to his chest. Hirnyk’s death marked the year of the building of the “single Soviet people.”

For me, the Russian language is Vladimir Putin’s notorious pledge to eradicate the Chechens’ age-old struggle for independence: “We’ll get them anywhere—if we find them sitting in the outhouse, we will rub them out there” (1999).

For me, the Russian language is the executions of Ukrainian patriots who stood up for their right to speak and write in Ukrainian.

For me, the Russian language is the language of a fascist, a racist, a chauvinist—and my bitterest enemy.

For me, the Russian language is the continuing threats made by the Putins, Zhirinovskys, Zatulins, and Luzhkovs of Russia to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes at Ukraine.

For me, the Russian language is the continuing cruelty and disrespect shown to my nation by the installation or maintenance of monuments honoring the tsarist and Soviet oppressors of Ukraine (2008).

For me, the Russian language is the language of an oppressor, a conqueror, and an occupier.

Today, the Russian language in independent Ukraine, if Ukraine is indeed independent, is the death of my language and Ukraine’s final enslavement.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 20, 2010, 10:37 a.m.    

Wow - this is a long but anyway worthless gibberish!

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 21, 2010, 7:37 a.m.    

All very true!

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 21, 2010, 12:47 a.m.    

Hold a referendum and give Lviv/Lemberg back to the polish and Galacia to the Hungarians allowing Ukraine to be Ukrainian

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 21, 2010, 1:55 a.m.    

I must admit that I favour this idea.

But I would rather become German than Polish to be honest.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 21, 2010, 7:35 a.m.    

Here is a better idea for both of you.

Russians should leave Ukraine and go back to Russia! That would solve so many problems.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 21, 2010, 6:40 p.m.    

Then Ukraine will become Kazakhstan - 90% unpopulated steppes, with a major population center concentrated in a few villages around Lviv. Good idea - sure road to progress, dimwit.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 24, 2010, 9:37 a.m.    

And you think there will be progress with Russia/Russians? You are an idiot.

Don't worry about Ukraine. Better worry about Russia which will soon become one with the People's Republic of China. And then you will be forced to learn a new language as you Russians tried to do to Ukraine.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 21, 2010, 6:42 p.m.    

Here is even better idea - mind your own business of what's going on in your country of Canada. Russia &amp; Ukraine's integration is none of your business.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 21, 2010, 9:28 p.m.    

Thats ok. Those from the regions will feel right at home. They have taken over Ukraine after the Holodomor, and now they can have the steppes all to themselves and pretend to be rulers of the Kazakh steppes. Russian the only language spoken. But be careful, the goats will try to make their language the second language.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 22, 2010, 8:03 a.m.    


Worry about the miserable country that is known as Russia.

Putin is calling you all home, why not listen?


{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 21, 2010, 7:44 a.m.    

What is the problem? If one lives in Ukraine then they should speak UKRAINIAN. If they want to speak a different language then they should leave Ukraine and go to the country of the language they wish to speak. Russia hasn't made Ukrainian an official language so why do some idiots think Ukraine should make Russian an official language?

Nobody is being forced to stay in Ukraine so if people refuse to learn Ukrainian then they should leave. Why live in a country that you don't respect? Go some place that you do respect.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 21, 2010, 6:38 p.m.    

Here is your logic: Britain has not made French an official language. Therefore your native country Canada should ban French as an official language.

Pay more attention to what's going on back home in Canada. We in Ukraine do not need your 'free' advice.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 22, 2010, 7:56 a.m.    

France didn't try and impose their propaganda on Britain and wipe out the English language. They are not trying to occupy Britain. So your augment is quite ignorant. You are trying to compare two completely different things. Russia is the one who has occupied Ukraine and has tried to get rid of the Ukrainian language.

Why don't you pay more attention to what is going on in declining Russia. NOBODY needs your unwanted advice.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 22, 2010, 12:34 a.m.    

Yet another stupid comment from the Lvov diaspora. Plain and simple: Russian is an international language. Ukrainian is a language fit for farmers and kholkols which is what one sees in the backward areas of the western ukraine. Go on the streets of Kiev and you will see for yourself that teenagers speak Russian predominantly. In the United States, people speak their language freely. In Canada, French and English are official languages. Many other countries also have 2 or more languages stated as official.India even recognizes dozens of languages. If the idiot so-called &quot;nationalist&quot; folks from Lvov want to change things, then they should get back in their boat and go back to the ukraine. what's funny is that these people seem to think they have the right opinion about what the ukraine should do. Simple fact of the matter is they and their families forsaked and abandoned their country for simple pleasures elsewhere and have no right to tell the ukraine shat it should and should not do.

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 22, 2010, 1:20 a.m.    

one of the best comments on the topic so far

thank you

{# <-- parent id goes here
Anonymous Feb. 22, 2010, 7:51 a.m.    

Haha you stupid Russian pig! Nobody abandoned Ukraine for 'pleasures'. You dirty Russians took Ukraine for your own pleasures and are still trying to hold onto those pleasures. You need to find your own pleasures in Russia and not in different countries. Face it, NOBODY LIKES YOU OR YOUR IDIOTIC LANGUAGE! You russians DON'T have the right to tell Ukraine or any country what to do. You need to be watching who is getting ready to be knocking on Russia's door. Why is Putin calling you all back? Maybe you should worry about the debate of making Chinese an official language in Russia because that is what is going to soon happen.

{# <-- parent id goes here


© 1995–2014 Public Media

Web links to Kyiv Post material are allowed provided that they contain a URL hyperlink to the material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. Otherwise, all materials contained on this site are protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced without the prior written permission of Public Media at
All information of the Interfax-Ukraine news agency placed on this web site is designed for internal use only. Its reproduction or distribution in any form is prohibited without a written permission of Interfax-Ukraine.