Monday, February 11, 2008

About a week ago, I tried leaving a comment on Paul Goble's Window On Eurasia blog - but since he chose not to publish it, I'll blog about it here.

In Goble's post on renaming streets in the former Soviet Union, there's this mention of Ukraine:

[...] But it is in Ukraine where name changes may generate the greatest number of problems in the near term. On Friday, President Viktor Yushchenko directed the authorities to identify streets and other locations that could be renamed to honor Bogdan Khmelnitskiy (http://unian.net/rus/news/news-234179.html).

That will offend many ethnic Russians who view the leader of Ukraine’s national liberation war in the 17th century as anything but a hero. [...]


It's some Poles, not Russians, who might get offended, I wrote to Goble. I sent him a link to a Wikipedia article on Bohdan Khmelnytsky, too.

Ukraine's history isn't 100 percent about Russia, and the country's ethnic Russians, so often portrayed as this overly sensitive biomass, should be given a break every once in a while.

***

Goble ends his post with a report by an Azeri news site on how Lviv Armenians want to rename the city into Aryuts. It's so crazy, I'm not sure how to think of it: a mistranslation? a joke? propaganda? Whatever.

4 comments:

  1. You're not the only one who tried!:) He never published mine either.

    And you're absolutely right: Of all minorities, it's Polish and Jewish Ukrainians — not Russian Ukrainians — who may be offended.

    However, the argument appears to be rather academic. There's nothing new about naming streets after Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Since the Soviet times, there's hardly been a town in Ukraine that doesn't have a Bohdan Khmelnytsky street, park or avenue. (Perhaps Goble confused Khmelnytsky with Mazepa?)

    Khmelnytsky belongs to the pantheon of Soviet "melting pot" mythology. Soviet historiographers idolized him as the champion of "friendship" between Ukrainian and Russian proto-proletarians.

    What happened after the Treaty of Pereyaslav, however, had more to do with colonization than friendship.

    As for the alleged Armenian initiative, it was a joke. I haven’t heard of any follow-up reports.

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  2. "What happened after the Treaty of Pereyaslav, however, had more to do with colonization than friendship."

    ****

    No it didn't as in the above quoted is an overly subjective evaluation from someone not sympathetic to the fact that many Ukrainians don't share his negative views of the Russian-Ukrainian relationship.

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  3. Michael Averko's alter ego1:31 PM, February 13, 2008

    "What happened after the Treaty of Pereyaslav, however, had more to do with colonization than friendship."

    ****

    Yes it did as in the above quoted is an overly subjective evaluation from someone sympathetic to the fact that many Ukrainians share his negative views of the Russian-Ukrainian relationship.

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  4. Poles really aren't offended. They get riled up about Katyń, not Khmelnystky. Of course, they refer to Lwów and Wilno as Polish cities and lament their losses. Taras is absolutely right -- this is all fodder for academics.

    Something that I've learned in Poland is that Poles have pretty much gotten rid of their inferiority complex, which many Ukrainians still cling onto. This doesn't mean that historical wounds have been cleansed, it means that Poland has progressed beyond a political and economic level that many Ukrainians or Russians fully comprehend. History seems only to be the remaining common thread.

    A good example is Tusk's recent trip to Moscow. The Russian press referred to him as a 'normal European leader' (compare to how they treat Ms. Tymoshenko). Poland and Russia 'agreed to disagree' on Nordstream. Moscow is fuming at the missile defense shield, but the Kremlin fully recognizes that Poland -- as an EU and NATO member -- will do what it will based on its own interests, as does Russia. There was talk of improving cultural ties, but absolutely no talk of 'Slavic brotherhood.'

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