If a guest of the city of Lvov moves along Stepan Bandera Street and Shekevich Street, passes monument of Ivan Franko and enters, near to monument of Grushevsky, Dnipro cinema, he could watch a film about how they love and fight in brothels of New York, Paris and Honk Kong. Offscreen translator prefers to pass over in silence too undisguised cues, therefore, he will finally keep silence during almost the whole film. If in the evening, the guest of Lvov switches on Lvivske Telebachennya (TV), he will come upon the same film, or upon a programme about suffering of Ukrainian people under cruel Moscow regime. The programme will be interrupted by a Russian-language advertising of US cigarettes. Afterwards, Lvivske Telebachennya will break off at all, while in the channel, German television will appear, which broadcasts for the whole night, though without offscreen translation. If you, Lvov guest, look in Les Kurbas Youth Theatre, you will see nothing, but emptiness and notification that Ukrainian Melpomene workers have declared hunger strike, because they receive no salary. If you… Enough of it. PRAVDA.Ru reader has probably understood, what I mean. Of course, the question is about tragicomic situation in cultural and political space of Galichina’s lands after the USSR collapse. While the situation itself was created by the patriots themselves, and to be more precise, by irresponsible dilettanti with novel meddle in their brains, where Ukrainian sobornost, gold of hetman Polubotok, Moscow navala and George Washington’s chart created some surrealist picture of the country with everybody speaking with Ukrainian verses and admiring Europe investing money in Ukraine and applauding to it with its civilized palms. An average Galichina citizen is simple. He earns his money by the sweat of his brow, arranges his home and is not inclined to watching the sky in search for divine sense of his life. Though this average citizen is weak. It flatters his self-esteem to feel something more than he is. Yesterday, he felt master of a vegetable garden and a bath, while suddenly he was declared to be the heir of a great civilization, descendant of some kshatri who once amazed people with their nobility and courage, though later were conquered by northern barbarians with carioused teeth, and now he has to drag out a miserable existence. And, of course, there are more than enough proofs of this. For example, old birch-rind letters are being found, afterwards copies of copies of Cossacks’ letters to Turkish sultan – and please, one more heroic construction is ready. Remember the “learned scoundrels” mentioned by great Russian writer of Ukrainian extraction Nikolai Gogol. Since his time, the number of these “learned scoundrels” did not decreased. Just opposite, after the USSR collapse, this number became countless. Everybody is now geopolitics scientist, ethnologist, and even ethnopsychiatrist. Spiritual preceptors of “emancipated” nations say now in 12 languages that Ukraine (Russia, Georgia, Chukotka, etc) is the motherland of elephants, while the motherland of first robber is near hear, where your national neighbour lives and, generally, sooner or later, Constantinopol must be ours. Galichina people heard it, they were filled with pride and moved after the new spiritual leaders. Lvov jingled with Ukrainian melodies, was painted with yellow blue flags, gonfalons, muscular young men started to march in columns along the streets, singing songs of the rebel times of 1940s. This was really a bright minute in life of an average Galichina citizen. He gave his heart and his money for national enlightenment, art, national press, being sincerely sure of his ideological leaders’ experience either in today’s politics, or in state building, or in economy, so these leaders must have lead Galichina to a civilized Ukrainian paradise. And what happened later, I even do not want to remember. God bless Ukrainian economy, though what happened with mass culture! After having stopped being Soviet, it did not became Ukrainian. It became a kind of off-screen translation from American. It turned out that the leaders could only praise greatness of Ukrainian creative genius, though when the genius asked for food, they showed they had not though about these too prosaic things. An interesting thing. “They” did not think that editing of a book, shooting of a film, organiziation of a concert – is a complicated industrial process which demands dozens of specialists, big money and a qualified work. They squandered Soviet cultural capacities, though they created nothing and leave Ukrainian genius on his own resources. Though, the empty space was at once filled: kiosks with foreign (mainly, Russian) literature, bars, play automates, McDonalds appeared. While national genius tempted with Ukrainian songs was left empty-handed. You know, how much does an average Ukrainian actor, musician, a museum worker earn? Approximately 20-30 dollars a month! Paraphrasing Napoleon: who does not want to feed his own intellectuals, must feed foreign intellectuals on his territory. So, what must happen, did happen. Under cries about revival and spirituality, Galichina people are being fed with something alien, second-rated, which cannot assimilated. Though, latest Ukrainian leaders have also disappeared. They blunted brains of average citizens with tales about bright future and vanished. Only that ones have remained, who could be called “dressed up.” They are ready to cry about passions of Ukrainian people, if they are well paid for it. Earlier, they were Soviet progressists, communists, and now they are Ukrainists, though never risk up to loosing their elite flats, expensive cars, and honorary titles. When some Kuchma-gate battles started in Kreschatik street, they were among worriers of Andrei Shkil or continued to talk about passions of Ukrainian people, though at a safe distance. But, if somebody called them worthless people, they hastened to say that Ukrainians were being offended. To be short, Galichina renaissance has not started yet. Today’s leaders are nice dreamers like pan Kosiv or political old foxes like pan Basiv who excite nothing but astonishment: just imagine – to unite patriotic rhetoric with selling bull-calves on money invested by readers into “people’s newspaper” Za Volnuyu Ukrainu (For Free Ukraine). The summer before last, I spent two weeks in a farm-stead in Carpathian Mountains. Local inhabitants called themselves “mountain people” avoiding speaking about the national root they belong. This is because they were for two hundred years “recruited” first by Hungarian, then by Slovak, and then by Soviet patriots. And every of that patriots started with demands of breed, lard, home-brew and love of the master’s daughter. They preferred to give what was demanded, asking for leaving them alone. In this same way, could an average citizen answer to the today’s patriots, if being agitated for something.
Valery Serdyuchenko, Associate Professor of Lvov Ivan Franko National University Lvov Ukraine Specially for PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/04/10/39545.html