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Winnipeg Free Press | 24Mar2014 | Raisa Moroz
Russian language thrives in Ukraine
Trudy Rubin, in her column "West needs strategy when Crimea's lost"
(March 15, 2014; Winnipeg Free Press), called the "dismemberment" of
Ukraine a fait accompli and advised the West to put certain conditions
-- pressure on Ukraine to protect Russians and the Russian language --
on future financial assistance to Ukraine.
When was the Russian language in Ukraine threatened? Did the world
forget the term "russification," which the Kremlin imposed on Ukraine
during the whole time of the U.S.S.R. (daycares, schools, all higher
education -- almost all were carried out in Russian)?
For opposing russification, hundreds of Ukrainian political prisoners
were imprisoned and died in the gulags. Today, if any language needs
protection, it is first of all the Ukrainian language and Ukrainian
Under former president Viktor Yushchenko, some change was made in this
direction, but in the last four years under Viktor Yanukovych, this
progress was stopped.
I finished school in the Donetsk province in a town with a mostly Greek
population where there was no Ukrainian school, all the schools being
in the Russian language. This situation remains and is characteristic
of eastern Ukraine.
I do not know what nationalism means in the West, but in Ukraine this
word does not contain any sense of xenophobia or anti-Semitism.
Nationalism is patriotism and means love for one's country and
readiness to protect it, with weapons if necessary.
This was stated in an interview for the Russian opposition Internet
site Dozhd by Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of the Right Sector, almost
half of which speaks Russian. Rubin warns against this organization.
This interview, which indicated no anti-Semitism and no russophobia,
was not to the liking of the authorities and this site is threatened
Rubin describes Stepan Bandera as a Nazi collaborator, killing Poles
and Jews. But right after he and his associates declared an Independent
Ukraine on June 30, 1941, the Germans incarcerated him in
Sachsenhausen, a Nazi concentration camp until 1944. His two brothers
died in a Nazi concentration camp.
I am of Greek descent, one of the national minorities in Ukraine. Our
Greek schools were closed by Stalin in the 1930s. I graduated from Lviv
University in western Ukraine in the very centre of the "banderites"
and "radicals," according to Russian propaganda. I never felt any
pressure from these "radicals" and "banderites." As you see, I am still
alive and well.
Winnipegger Raisa Moroz
was married to Valentyn Moroz, a Ukrainian
dissident and an almost 14-year political prisoner in the gulags. In
1979, he was released in a major exchange, along with dissidents
Aleksandr Ginzburg, Mark Dymshits, George P. Vins and Edward S.
Kuznetsov, for two convicted Soviet spies.
In 1983, Vera Moroz (presumably a relative of Valentyn/Raisa Moroz)
translated the book "Witness" by
Pavlo Makohon on the Holodomor in Ukraine during 1932-33.]
Winnipeg Free Press | 15Mar2014 |Trudy
West needs strategy when Crimea's lost
It will take cool heads to deal with Vladimir Putin after he dismembers
Ukraine. And that moment is coming soon.
Even as U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Ukraine's acting prime
minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, to the White House, the Russian leader
moved toward annexation of Crimea. Putin continues to deny what the
world sees -- that Russian troops have invaded Crimea -- while hinting
he might send forces to eastern Ukraine to "protect" ethnic Russians.
It's time for Obama and European leaders to look beyond Crimea to how
they can prevent Putin from making even more dangerous moves.
Of course, the situation in Crimea remains extremely troubling. On
Sunday, under the "protective" eyes of Russian troops, Crimeans will
vote on whether they want to become independent and join up with
Russia. Russians are 60 per cent of Crimea's population, and the region
has historic ties to Russia, but only a minority wants to unite with
Moscow, according to recent polls.
But Moscow's minions will guarantee the outcome of Sunday's vote.
Despite any legitimate gripes Putin may have with the West, the
invasion of Crimea is blatantly illegal. In 1994, Russian, U.S., and
European leaders pledged to respect Ukraine's borders in return for
that country's surrendering its nuclear weapons. Moreover, the 1997
agreement with Ukraine that permits its ships to base in Crimea
requires the approval of the Kyiv government for any Russian troops to
operate outside the port city of Sevastopol. Clearly that accord has
Still, the consequences of losing Crimea, which only became part of
Ukraine in 1954, pale beside what would happen if Russia invades
mainland Ukraine. The Crimean takeover has seen little violence; a
Russian invasion of the Ukrainian mainland would be bloody and shake
all of Ukraine's neighbours. It would blow up a manageable crisis into
a military threat that could destabilize Europe.
The West's response to Putin's land grab must be firm enough to prevent
him from making such a mistake.
Economic sanctions and visa restrictions on Russian officials are
already on the table. There will be costs to western businesses with
investments in Russia, much more onerous to Europeans, with their heavy
energy links to Moscow. But without sanctions, Putin may think he has a
green light in Ukraine.
Beyond sanctions, Washington and the European Union also must make a
firm commitment to help Ukraine's bankrupt economy recover. This will
be painful, since Ukraine has developed a corrupt, oligarch-ridden
economy dependent on Russian gas.
U.S. and EU officials must also press Ukrainians to reassure ethnic
Russians they have a future in Ukraine. One of Putin's strongest cards
in stirring up trouble in Ukraine is to persuade ethnic Russians
Ukrainian "fascists" threaten their future. That distorted message is
spewed non-stop by Russian TV and is the excuse Putin might use to
invade eastern Ukraine.
The months-long popular revolt that toppled former Ukrainian president
Viktor Yanukovych was fuelled by widespread revulsion at corruption.
It comprised members of every ethnic group from across the political
spectrum. But toward the end, right-wing nationalist groups played a
Rubin is more of a "Jewish right-wing nationalist" than the so-called
"right-wing nationalist groups" that she demonizes. These people are
neither left-wing nor right-wing. In Ukraine "nationalism" equates to
"patriotism". These people are simply patriotic Ukrainians (speaking
both Ukrainian and Russian), who refuse to sell their souls for money
and insist that corruption within Ukraine be eradicated. They have no
intention of promoting ethnic cleansing or language suppression. It
appears that Ms. Rubin's goal is to safeguard and preserve the
corruption amongst some of her co-religionists within Ukraine. To
parrot the NKVD/KGB/FSB propaganda from WW2 to demonize the Ukrainian
Independence Movement is a complete cop-out.]
In Ukraine's transitional government, Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr
Sych is a member of the nationalist Svoboda party. Its leader, Oleh
Tyahnybok, famously argued in 2004 a "Moscow-Jewish
Several other interim ministers are current or former members of
Svoboda, and the deputy secretary of national security, Dmytro Yarosh,
is the leader of Right Sector, a group even more nationalist than
Such groups glorify Stepan Bandera, a nationalist who battled Soviet
domination during and after the Second World War, but is also accused
of collaborating with the Nazis and killing Poles and Jews.
With Crimea lost and Putin threatening the Ukrainian mainland,
far-right groups may gain traction. Already, Ukraine's transitional
government briefly tried to drop Russian as one of Ukraine's official
languages, before reversing course.
Policies that make Russian citizens feel threatened will play into
Putin's game plan. Western governments should strongly advise their
Ukrainian counterparts to avoid such mistakes. Yatsenyuk did just that
in Washington, insisting close ties with Europe would not rule out
friendship with Russia.
"We will preserve the rights of all minorities," he added.
Still, said Columbia University professor Tarik Cyril Amar, "There
should be conditionality on western aid. They should insist that
far-right tendencies be kept in check. This would be doing Ukraine a
Putin will try to terrify Ukraine's ethnic Russians into begging for
Russian help. Ukraine must deprive him of that possibility -- with
Trudy Rubin is a
columnist and editorial-board member for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
-- The Philadelphia