Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Russian language thrives in Ukraine

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Trudy Rubin, in her column West needs strategy when Crimea's lost (March 15), 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 culture.

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 with cancellation.

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.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 24, 2014 A9

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