Monday, March 23, 2009

There are two things I want to say about Oleh Tyahnybok.

(Two more things, that is. My earlier post on him is here, my tiny GV translation of what other people think of his victory - here, and a misplaced critical remark from a reader from Denver, Colorado - here.)

First, poor Taras Shevchenko. In the post-election Ukrainska Pravda interview (UKR), Tyahnybok says this to justify his preference for the word zhyd (kike):

- But, as it turns out, the word zhyd is part of normal vocabulary for a Svoboda representative, while in Kyiv it's perceived as a sign of anti-Semitism.

- So ban Shevchenko's [Kobzar] in Kyiv! Some people perceive it like this, but I don't! Open Borys Hrynchenko's dictionary - and you'll see there what this word means. It's not a prohibited word! [...]

It's very simple: just like the Soviets before him, Tyahnybok is exploiting Shevchenko.

Here's an annotation from the 1988 Shevchenko's poetry volume that I was reading a few weeks ago - a children's edition, by the way, published by Veselka ("Rainbow") publishing house:

Запродана жидам віра... -

Йдеться про те, що польські магнати прагнули покатоличити українське населення, щоб у такий спосіб мати на нього більший вплив і поступово асимілювати. Нерідко шляхта здавала церкви в аренду євреям, які збирали плату за вхід до церкви, а потім частину одержаних грошей шляхта привласнювала. В "Запорожской старине" І. Срезнєвського розповідається: "Ужасно было в ту годину состояние украинцев. Права их были нарушены; вера попрана; церкви и монастыри, издавна сооруженные, иные запустели, иные запечатаны".


The faith that had been sold out to the [Jews] -

[The passage] is about the Polish magnates' desire to catholicize the Ukrainian population, in order to have more influence on it and to eventually assimilate it. Often, the [szlachta] leased churches to Jews, who were charging money for entering the church, and then part of the money received was taken by the szlachta. In I. Sreznyevsky's "Zaporozhye Antiquity," there is this account: "Horrible was the condition of Ukrainians in that time. Their rights were violated; their faith ravished; churches and monasteries, constructed long ago, some stood empty, others were locked down."

The message of the note, I suppose, was this: Dear children, don't be surprised by the word zhydy - Jews were evil, but they were nowhere near as evil as the Poles and Catholics.

Absolutely amazing, too, is that there were people back in the Soviet times who had the guts to quote someone bemoaning the ruined Ukrainian churches - ruined by, you see, the Poles, not the Soviets.

Here's the next annotation from my Shevchenko book - about Ukraine's Greek Catholics:

Уніати -

прибічники унії. Унія - об'єднання православної церкви України й Білорусії з католицькою церквою, здійснене з ініціативи Ватікану і проголошене церковним собором у Бресті 1596 р. Унія була знаряддям зміцнення політичного панування шляхетської Польщі на Україні та в Білорусії. Шляхта прагнула покатоличити українське й білоруське населення, розірвати його зв'язки з російським народом. Її підтримувала верхівка українських феодалів. Визвольна війна 1648-1654 рр. і возз'єднання України з Росією поклали край унії на Лівобережній Україні. Наприкінці XVIII ст. внаслідок визвольної боротьби українського народу унію ліквідовано на Правобережжі. На Західній Україні уніатська церква існувала до 1946 р., коли церковний собор у Львові проголосив її скасування. На Закарпатті унію ліквідовано 1949 р. Нині уніатська церква продовжує свою реакційну діяльність у США і Канаді.


The Uniates -

supporters of the uniya. Uniya is the union of the Orthodox church of Ukraine and Belarus with the Catholic church, which was carried out at the Vatican's initiative and announced by the church synod in Brest in 1596. Uniya served as a tool of strengthening the power of the Polish szlachta in Ukraine and Belarus. The szlachta aimed at catholicizing the Ukrainian and Belarusian populations and breaking off their ties with the Russian people. It was supported by the high-ranking Ukrainian feudal lords. The 1648-1654 Liberation War and the re-unification of Ukraine with Russia put an end to uniya in the Left Bank Ukraine. At the end of the 18th century, as a result of the Ukrainian people's fight for liberation, uniya was liquidated in the Right Bank region. In Western Ukraine, the Uniate church existed until 1946, when the church synod in Lviv announced its dissolution. In Transcarpathia, uniya was liquidated in 1949. Currently, the Uniate church continues its reactionary activities in the USA and Canada.

Here the message must have been this: Those evil Diaspora folks, children, they are still plotting to break up the union of the two brotherly nations, Russians and Ukrainians - beware!

Both messages are conveniently transmitted with the use of Shevchenko, via his Tarasova Nich ("The Night of Taras") - a poem written circa 1840...

And here's Oleh Tyahnybok some 165 years later, in 2004, looking like a small-town actor, making a passionate speech about zhydva and moskali, feeling safe in Shevchenko's shadow - although this speech later got him kicked out of Yushchenko's "Our Ukraine":


The other thing about Tyahnybok that I wanted to mention is his sovok obsession with pyataya grafa, the fifth line in the Soviet passport that indicated the person's ethnicity - and which Tyahnybok would like to have re-introduced in Ukrainian passports and birth certificates. Here's a quote (UKR) from his 2005 speech, posted on his site:

[...] We all remember very well those old Soviet passports that still had this line. And each one of us was a Ukrainian, a Pole, a Belarusian, a Lithuanian. Very regrettably, after Ukraine gained its independence, this line disappeared from our passports. Basically, our ethnicity was stolen from us. [...]

All in all, this is explained by a simple philosophical saying: what's unnamed does not exist.


According to the latest census, there are over 78 percent of us Ukrainians in Ukraine, but we do not really have a proper identification. Actually, this line and this identification is missing from birth certificates as well as from other documents. The "ethnicity" line in the passports was taken away from us, and no one had asked Ukrainians for permission. It was nothing but a political decision. The return of this line will definitely further preservation and prosperity of the Ukrainian nation.

Basically, if it goes on like this, now that they took away the ethnicity line in the passport, we can expect the victory of globalism. After the "ethnicity" line, they might take away our last names, our first names and patronymics, and we'll only have our identification codes [used for taxation purposes] left to us.

[Dear friends], we are not America to pile everyone together. A Ukrainian should remain a Ukrainian, a Pole should remain a Pole, a Gagauz - a Gagauz, an Uzbek - an Uzbek. The All-Ukrainian Association Svoboda insists on returning the "ethnicity" line to the passport and other documents. And, if necessary, we insist on holding an all-Ukrainian referendum. [...]

Now that we have a country of our own and are all Ukrainian citizens, now is the time, of course, to revert to old Soviet ways and start it all over again. We aren't America, no.

(A good antidote against Tyahnybok's crap is this beautiful essay by Zadie Smith, published in The New York Review of Books on Feb. 26: Speaking in Tongues.)


That's all I have to say about this useless and embarrassing sovok for now - until he wins some other Ukrainian region, the way he has just won Ternopil.


  1. NAZI's - I hate these guys...

    Bozhse Neeka - it just sucks the soul out of a proud Ukrainian seeing that sort of stuff...

  2. The word жид did not become an ethnic slur in Western Ukraine until its Sovietization.

    However, Tyahnybok used жид in a clear-cut racist way, as part of his political platform.

    When people treat other people as inherently bad or good based on their ethnicity or the color of their skin, we call it racism, period.

    When the ethnic makeup of a country’s elite does not represent the general population, what do we call it?

    If we look at the Top 4 richest Ukrainians, we won’t see a single ethnic Ukrainian.

    We won’t see a single person who speaks Ukrainian either. All we can see is a group of people who became rich overnight, at the expense of the general population. All we can see is a group of people who have vested interests in major Ukrainian parties like the Party of Regions, BYuT and NUNS.

    Moreover, one of these four people has dual citizenship and lives outside Ukraine.

    Even in a nation of immigrants like the US, this kind of disproportion would be unthinkable. No such disproportion exists in France and Germany, wealthy and relatively homogeneous countries with powerful minorities. In Israel, another wealthy country, nationality law clearly favors people of Jewish origin and their relatives.

    In the Russian Federation, whose brand of capitalism closely resembles Ukraine’s, the oligarchs do speak the country’s official language. They also promote its geopolitical interests.

    In Ukraine, the oligarchs promote their own interests only.

  3. The voiceover from the video from 2004 was in Russian. I think that Tyahnybok has a point, along the lines of - why does the mayor of the capital city of Ukraine speak Russian instead of Ukrainian?

    Which ties in with the point that Taras made - Ukraine's government consists of a bunch of oligarchs who have no interest except their own pockets, and Ukraine and its people be damned.

    As a commenter said on Ukrainian Pravda - there are 2 countries in Ukraine, one for the oligarchs, one for the people, which happen to be on the same territory.

    Now here's something funny - every time you turn around in the US, whether filling out a census form, or a college application, or almost anything else, the form asks of - ethnicity.

    Why? For tracking purposes.

    And because certain ethnics get special benefits.

    The sovoks really did a number on Ukraine and the rest of the sovok republics.

    People don't know how to think, and instead of studying history, they wallow in it.

    Tyahnybok has significantly toned down his act, judging by recent appearances.

    The ones from 2004 and 2005 are being dredged up to "prove" that he is somehow evil.

    But he's not.

    Certainly he's not more evil than the likes of Kuchma, Pinchuk, Firtash, Fursin, Mogilevych, Hayduk, Taruta, Kluyevs, Lazarenko, Akhmetov, Zhevago and the rest of the oligarchs who robbed Ukraine left and right - sovoks gone wild. And beat people over the head and even killed them in the process.

    He makes some good points.

    The sovoks really, really did a number on the people in Ukraine.

    It's impossible to get from A to B in Ukraine, and people focus on stupid things, make simple things complicated, and don't know who to organize, plan, and implement.

    Well, except for the sovoks, who learned very quickly and very skillfully how to steal, and then send their goodies into offshore accounts, and elsewhere.

  4. Elmer said:

    "Tyahnybok has significantly toned down his act, judging by recent appearances."

    In 2004, you could say the same about him: then, he changed the name of his Social-National Party to Svoboda and switched from a Nazi symbol to the good old Ukrainian tryzub - all of it for Yushchenko, apparently.

    But it's actually quite enlightening to watch how they've all been toning themselves down and up and left and right over the years...


    Taras said:

    In Israel, another wealthy country, nationality law clearly favors people of Jewish origin and their relatives.

    Yes, and while we're at it - imitating Israel, I mean - let's also introduce mamzer (байстрюк) status that they still have. Or not.

  5. Veronica,

    That’s not the way I feel.

    Ukrainian citizenship should make people equal in their rights and responsibilities. It should be granted according to one’s allegiance, not according to one’s ethnicity or years of residence.

    My comment about Israel was about reciprocity, not discrimination.

    If the State of Israel strives to preserve her Jewish identity while the Russian Federation strives to preserve her Russian identity, why should Ukraine not preserve hers?

    I proceed from the notion that immigrants have the right to preserve their language and culture by embracing the language and culture of their host country. That’s where I stand and that’s the way it works (more or less) in the civilized world.

    In all their racist escapades, Ukrainian ultra-radicals like Tyahnybok rarely lay claims to Russian territory.

    By contrast, Russian ultra-radicals like Dugin can’t get enough of Ukraine, “Tanks on Kyiv!” being their battle cry.

  6. Neeka, the voiceover in 2004 was really bad sovok-style rhetoric - in Russian.

    The voice-over carried on about Nazis and fascists, just as Vitrenko did. Vitrenko's pitch was "I was a good little Komsomol girl, I studied well in sovok schools, and the sovoks defeated the rooskies in WWII, and I speak Russian, not Ukrainian."

    That's no way to run a democracy, it's not any sort of government platform. It was all evident in the voiceover.

    In 2009, all of that rings hollow.

    Well, except for a few die-hard sovoks.

    It is crystal clear, in 2009, just how badly Ukraine has been hurt by its corrupt system of oligarchs-gone-wild-in-government, all of that nice rhetoric from Hanna Herman notwithstanding.

    It is crystal clear in 2009 that people in Ukraine have no trust in the government.

    That's no way to run a democracy.

    It is crystal clear in 2009 that the mayor of Kyiv is a certified, bona fide, off-the-wall wacko-psycho.

    How on earth can anyone run a city in a democracy with a psycho thief like that as mayor?

    As long as the people in Ukraine insist on continuing to sit on the sidelines and watch oligarchs and their proxies continue to rob Ukraine blind and abuse government, the only thing left in Ukraine is the toning down, or up, or sideways of rhetoric.

    And that's all anyone will get as long as the people in Ukraine continue to sit on the sidelines - a little bit of toning up or down of rhetoric.

    The good thing about Tyahnybok and a guy like Lutsenko is that they showed that they can get around the oligarchs.

    I'm sure you'll tell me if I'm wrong, Neeka. :-)

  7. Elmer,

    It's funny but I had totally missed the voiceover - it just didn't register in my mind, as if the sound was off - and I only listened to it after you mentioned it for the second time. Must be a skill acquired during the sovok years - turning a deaf ear to propaganda crap. Another useful skill from that period is being able to read between the lines. But yes, the voiceover is absolutely horrible.

    Interesting that you still think highly of Lutsenko, very optimistic of you.

    Tyahnybok's sources of funding: if I ever find a way to look into his pockets, I'll let you know. I doubt I ever will, though. So I'd rather be looking at what's on the surface. In any case, time will tell whether you're right or wrong, Elmer.

  8. Taras, it takes a lot more than the involvement of the state or individual politicians to preserve national heritage and identity. Jewish history is a really good example of that. And people like Tyahnybok more often than not prove to be counterproductive.

    My mention of the mamzer thing was a sort of a non sequitur: I just wanted to say that nobody's perfect.

  9. Neeka, tell me what you find wrong with Lutsenko, please.

    I still remember when Tsushko conducted his Gestapo raid on Lutsenko's home, his apartment, looking for who-knows-what - they found a dozen eggs.

    During the course of the Gestapo raid, they told Lustenko to shut up.

    Lutsenko, to his everlasting and enormous credit, retorted that this was his home, and in his home he will say what he wants.

    I always thought that Lutsenko is one of the few people in Ukraine who gets democracy - among other things, the state has no right to trample on the rights of the individual, nor is the state to be abused for personal business interests, through conflicts-of-interest and other machinations.

    And he toured the country, attracting large crowds wherever he went. He spoke in Russian where necessary, to cater to the population that still doesn't realize it's living in Ukraine.

  10. Елмер, Ви, напевно, жартуєте?

    Or, you must have forgotten that Lutsenko is our interior minister now.

    Please read this and/or watch this.

    I haven't had any dealings with our police since the summer of 2007, when we were searching for my father and, later, sorting out the mess caused by the dacha robbery - it was a nightmare then, but yes, it was a Tsushko deputy who was running things, not Lutsenko. Still, from what I've been hearing, it hasn't gotten any better and many people say it's gotten worse. Lutsenko is inefficient: corruption, lack of the most basic resources, lack of professionalism - it's all still there.

  11. Ні, я не жартую

    Lack of police training is certainly a problem in Ukraine.

    I'm not sure that I would let one incident shatter my opinion of Lutsenko.

    The man in Crimea picked up an explosive device that he should not have picked up. The police should never have thrown the device into his house. They were acting on what turned out to be mistaken information.

    My sense is that Lutsenko has tried to improve things.

    But how does one improve police training in Ukraine, Neeka? With what resources?

  12. Elmer wrote:

    But how does one improve police training in Ukraine, Neeka? With what resources?

    Don't ask me, ask Lutsenko. Please. He is not campaigning anymore, he's running the damn ministry. He should know. He has to. Me, I can only tell you how we are surviving their fucking mistakes. And if you manage to get through to him (you won't), ask him not to whine about that 'Gestapo raid' and having been 'told to shut up' - ask him to be grateful that they didn't throw an explosive at one of his family members.

  13. And a good way to start improving police training in Ukraine would have been for Lutsenko to avoid that fistfight with Chernovetsky - not because Chernovetsky doesn't deserve to get his ass kicked, but because such behavior of 'the boss' sends the wrong message to other cops. But it's too late now.

  14. Neeka, if you are a citizen of Ukraine, then it's not enough to just stand back, fold your hands, and act grumpy.

    Ukraine has over 20% inflation. It's got a budget deficit. Its citizens happily pay bribes to traffic police - something that's engrained into the bones of every Ukrainian.

    There was a mistake made by the police. It seems to me if you're going to criticize, then you also have an obligation to provide a solution, a better way.

    And that does not include telling others to do the job of Ukrainian citizens for them.

    Lutsenko wasn't whining about the Gestapo raid - I was admiring him for standing up to it.

    He is indeed running the ministry - but the ministry is subject to budgets and resources.

    Ukrainian is woefully under any sort of respectable standards in a number of areas, not just police enforcement.

    Ukrainians sat on the sidelines for over 17 years while the oligarchs robbed Ukraine. Ukrainians sat on the sidelines while traffic police took bribes. Ukrainians sat on the sidelines while assorted crazy drivers with money killed people on the streets of Ukraine, and on the sidewalks.

    Ukrainians can't just live in denial and pretend they live in a different country. Otherwise, they'll continue to get more of the same.

    In 2004, some people finally stood up. But it's not just a one-time deal. And it's certainly no solution to leave everything up to someone else.

    In the 5 years since 2004, everything is out in the open, all the things that people knew about, but did not dare talk about for fear of getting beat up or killed by the likes of Kuchma.

    5 years ago, thugs like Kolesnikov from the Party of Regions were beating up journalists and then screaming on TV about how they were "saldaty" (soldiers) for the Party of Regions - not for Ukraine, but for the Party of Regions.

    5 years ago, people on the forums of Ukrainian Pravda and other blogs were deathly afraid of speaking out freely, and such forums were overwhelmed by sovoks posting swear words, intimidation and threats, and pornography, in an effort to disrupt free speech.

    Today, there is free speech.

    And I submit, very respectfully, that if Ukrainians are informed enough to have opinions, positive or negative, about assorted presidential candidates or acting ministers, then they should be informed enough to offer solutions.

    As far as police in Ukraine, training is part of a solution for a better police force. The question seems to me to be - how does one accomplish that in Ukraine?

    Guys like Tyanhybok need to deal with such questions also.

  15. Elmer wrote:

    Neeka, if you are a citizen of Ukraine, then it's not enough to just stand back, fold your hands, and act grumpy.

    I can't be everywhere at once, you know. And after summer and fall of 2007, I'm not touching that pile of shit that is our police. God forbid I ever have to again.

    Here's what others are doing, though - a link to photos from a small protest against police brutality that took place on Khreshchatyk on March 15:

    And a link to a relevant LiveJournal community:

  16. You know, you sort of made my point.

    If people had gotten off the sidelines and paid attention to and insisted on improved police, etc., probably the police would have been able to help you in the summer and fall of 2007.

  17. Elmer, I'm not publishing any of your comments from now on. Go shit elsewhere. Find yourself a good shrink. Move to NYC if there aren't any in Oklahoma City. Fuck off.