Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Maidan Nezalezhnosti

Watching the Sochi Olympic Games and viewing the unrest in Ukraine these past two weeks has inspired me to kickstart this forum once again.  I greatly appreciate that persons are still looking in and that there is actually a couple new followers.  It's a one-man show and I encourage those looking in to drop comments.

A few months back I found an early English edition of Tolstoy's Sebastopol Sketches.  It is a real treat as it is a cloth-covered pocket book that dates back to 1887.  Apparently, there wasn't much call for a rare book such as this and I didn't pay too much money for it.  Tolstoy was a young man, who served in an artillery regiment during the Crimean War.  Here is a 1916 copy, courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

Once again Ukraine finds itself on the battlefront, although this one seems to be more over identity, which nearly erupted into a civil war this month.  Fortunately, cooler heads have prevailed, but now there is talk of secession in the East, notably in Crimea.  Boundaries have always been subject to change, and Ukraine has probably suffered more than any other European country due to wars and annexation.

For many Russians, Ukraine is part of Russia.  They don't see it as a distinct nation.  The Pan-slavs like Dostoevsky saw all of the Slavic people as part of Mother Russia.  A feeling that most Russian writers shared, particularly Gogol, whose xenophobic views were on full display in Taras Bulba.  Even today, one hears Gorbacev and other leaders evoking a Greater Russia that would include Ukraine.

Understandably, many Ukrainians don't feel the same way.  Oleksandr Prylypko has written this engaging commentary on the nationalist fervor of the Russian intelligentsia, particularly in regard to events taking place in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the main square of Kiev. For Ukranians it is a matter of national identity, not this continual living under the Russian shadow.  But, imperial notions are hard to shake.  It is easier to reflect these attitudes onto the European Union than it is to see those same traits in yourself, as many in the Russian intelligentsia have long been doing.


  1. Anichkin at the European Book Review actually posted something balanced and compassionate:

    For the deep roots of what is going on, the 20th century is the place to look. Golodomor, World War II. Chernobyl.

  2. Thanks for commenting. It would be nice to see the different sides come together, but unfortunately there seems to be too much internal difference for that to happen any time soon. Now, the pro-Russian elements are making their voices heard,