December 13, 2013

Oleksandr Feldman: “Those who prepare to use the fruits of the revolution should not be allowed to destroy the uniqueness of Ukraine as a polyethnic state”

On rallies, there is no place to slogans considered as the extremist ones all over the world

The events taking place in Ukraine during the recent weeks have already been called a revolution. Though, it is difficult to speak about revolution without a programme and a final purpose of revolutionaries. I respect the right of each citizen to self-expression and to the protection of his or her position, as this is one of the fundamental principles of democracy. I may like or do not like the events in the country. However, I always remember Voltaire’s principle: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” 

“The main thing now is to try to hear and to understand each other” 

The current events in Kyiv are the natural expression of civic stand of thousands of citizens of Ukraine. At the same time, there are even more people not sharing the stand of the participants of the action outside the Maidan. Ukraine is divided by stands, by opinions, by views. And the main thing now is to try to hear and to understand each other. It is the hardest thing because the element of rally dazzles sometimes and causes euphoria. 

During the previous millennium, Ukraine developed as a territory with big number of ethnoses and peoples. Ukrainian nation is established as a political nation, and not only ethnic Ukrainians take part in its forming, but Russians, Jews, Poles, Crimean Tatars, Moldovans, Hungarians and dozens of other nationalities as well. According to the definition formulated in the 19th century, nation is a community of people united by the common future. Exactly, by the future! If we are the citizens of Ukraine, we, first of all, must think about the future of the country, about our children, grandchildren, about their safety, and about the powerful foundation of the structure called Ukrainian state. 

Any revolution causes destructions. Despite the slogans of a revolution, they are directed at the destruction of the past. Revolution is never creative. Under the certain conditions, creative is the post-revolutionary time. Revolution turn upside down such notions as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. The coordinate system changes, the perception of good and evil changes. Not accidentally, Leon Trotsky said the words, which became a catch phrase: “Any revolution is made for thieves and prostitutes to become philosophers and poets.” 

We may think of another one catch phrase attributed to Bismarck: “Revolutions are conceived by geniuses, executed by fanatics, but it is the rascals who enjoy the fruits” 

I would not like those who prepare to use the fruits of the revolution to break peace and the unsteady construction of the international balance in the country, by destroying the uniqueness of Ukraine as a polyethnic state. Xenophobia and extremism – these evil genies shall not be let out of the bottle. 

I am a Jew. I am proud that during the decades I contributed to the establishment and the strengthening of confidential and partner’s relations between all the nationalities and the confessions in Ukraine. Today, I am entitled to speak not only on behalf of Jewish community, but also on behalf of other national communities and associations; all those people who, regardless of their historical roots, feel themselves citizens of Ukraine and connect their future exactly with Ukraine. We all would not like the events of the Maidan to anyhow influence the interethnic peace. 

It is not the secret that slogans, which may be understood ambiguously, are heard on the Maidan from time to time. “Glory to the nation! – Death to enemies!” Thousands of people chant the ‘Svoboda’s’ chant, not thinking much of who these enemies really are. Some think that Russians are enemies, the others think that they are Poles or Jews. It should be reminded that in his “Decalogue” published in the beginning of the 20th century, the founder of the Ukrainian nationalism, the Kharkiv lawyer, Mykola Mikhnovsky, wrote: “All the people are brothers, except for any Moskal, Zhyd and Liakh, who are your enemies.” Are these words still timely for the followers of the nationalistic idea? 

“Ukraine is a common good for all its citizens” 

“Death, death, death to Liakh! Death to Jewish and Moscow commune!” the small group of students sings a song of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army when warming themselves near the fire. And then – hoisting the red and black flags on the governmental buildings, extremist slogans on the walls, calls for violence. Does the opposition control those who gathered on the Maidan? Is it responsible for all their actions? How should we appraise the fact that the radical participants of the Maidan spread calls for violent actions towards foreigners through the social networks, as well as race and xenophobic statements? I am not speaking about the famous public figures and politicians. First of all, I mean provokers. There are a lot of them on the Maidan, however, they are able to distort the face of peaceful protest actions turning it into the horrible grimace. 

“Svoboda” tries to become a respectable right-wing party, and separates itself from xenophobia by all means. However, these are their voters and their followers. Perhaps, Oleh Tyahnybok and his friends just speculated on the national rhetoric in due time for the sake of political spirit, for the sake of votes of radical political segment. But this segment is in all its glory: they destroy monuments, destroy the park. The Svoboda’s representative, Yurii Mykhalchyshyn openly says slogans, which may be considered and neo-fascist ones all over the world. And all this happens under the slogans of the European integration? Or maybe behind the screen of the European integration? 

Once, Ivan Drach, a wonderful poet and one of the founders of the People’s Movement of Ukraine, said: “A Jew in Ukraine must live better than in Israel, a Russian in Ukraine must live better than in Russia.” Only 22 years passed. Isn’t this slogan timely any more? 

I will even refer to the ideology of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which adopted the new concept in 1970s (instead of “Ukraine for Ukrainians”): “Ukraine is a common good for all its citizens”. Isn’t this timely any more as well? Shall we return to Mikhnovsky again? 

We, the citizens of Ukraine, representing the polyethnic people of the country, express the concern with the situation. When there is no progress on the political plane, the search, or rather the appointment of guilty persons starts. Mussolini “appointed” communists as guilty ones, Hitler indicated Jews, Pavelić indicated Serbs, Bandera indicated Russians and Poles. The glorification of Bandera on the Maidan may cause another one boom of xenophobic moods. The hints about the “non-Ukrainian” power in Ukraine have already been said by the politicians, as well as the calls for the establishment of the “Ukrainian national power”. There is the rhetoric of 1920-1930s in the air again. 

The wonderful Russian symbolist poet, Konstantin Balmont, wrote in 1919: “Revolution is good when it eliminates oppression. But the world lives with evolution, not revolutions. Orderliness and order is what we need as breath, as food. When a revolution becomes a satanic vortex of destruction, then the truth becomes silent or changes into lie. The crowds are seized with spontaneous insanity, imitative madness; all the words become senseless and unconvincing…” These words will scarcely be said on the Maidan today, as they will be considered harmful for the Maidan. 

Sooner or later euphoria and hysteria end, and sobering comes. Many will be ashamed of those words and slogans chanted on the Maidan. Many will reappraise their position and review their views. 

The main thing is that it is not too late. The main thing is that the political element not to cause the international discord, as well as the loss of the integrity of Ukraine. Heaven save us from losing the country we formed together during the centuries. Heaven save us from losing our balanced, tolerant and wonderful society.