After having become Ukrainian territory, Crimea turned out to be less accessible for Galichina citizens, than it was in Soviet times. To reach Crimea by the train costs 80 dollars, while the plane is only for rich people who can afford to them to order an hourly flight Lvov - Simferopol. This was why, the author of this article decided to participate in the conference of Ukrainian specialists of Russian philology. These specialists are not very much respected in Ukraine. Studying of Russian language and literature was reduced as much as possible. While supporters of “western” way of Ukrainian development probably dream about Ukrainians reading poems of Shevchenko in English. Last year symposium of the kind caused for its organizers serious troubles: just after it, pro-rector of Tavrida university, professor V.Kazarin was dismissed, while a day later, he was appointed Crimean vice-premier on culture! The chairman of Crimean Supreme Rada, Leonid Grach openly shows his devotion to Russia and defends his associates. At the moment, passions boil in Tavrida. “Issue of Crimea” is known to European politicians, it is mentioned in statements of Ukrainian and Russian presidents, while in the streets of Crimean cities demonstrators could be seen. The train arrived in Simferopol at 5.30 a.m. I entered the platform, where I met my colleagues, and a nice girl offered us wine and coffee and handed over paper-cases with information. Afterwards, we get in a Toyota and accompanied by a patrol car drove towards the city of Yalta. My companions began to nod, while I started to remember… O, Crimea, where I was young, swarthy and happy! I suppose that feeling of groundless happiness is known to everybody who came to Crimea for a holiday: shady maple forests and hot steppes, rocks and night sleepless beaches with sounds of kissing. Everybody knows the city of Kerch founded by Greeks and the city of Koktebel hymned by Russian poet Voloshin and beloved by Russian intellectuals. What has gone, it will be nice, would Russian classic say. Though, let us return to today. We were settled in single rooms of Livadia sanatorium. I immediately went to Yalta quay and came across an old friend of mine, post-graduate student of Lvov university: as it turned out his parents lived in Crimea. They came to Crimea from the city of Magnitogorsk, Ural Region. Yalta citizens live from serving tourists. Though what should dwellers of continental Crimea do, where there are no sea and health resorts, while collective farms of Soviet times stopped their existence, as well as soil-reclamation systems: as a result, thousands of hectares became again stony “waste land”? I asked my friend, about unfinished houses along the highway Simferopol – Yalta. He told me about Crimean Tatars: not all of them managed to adapt themselves to new orders in their “historical motherland,” this caused disappointments and conflicts with local authorities. In today’s Crimean parliament, there are only two Crimean Tatars. Could they better their peoples’ life, if local agriculture is not being invested, while health-resort business is shared among local Russians? To be short, life in Crimea became a real ordeal for Crimean Tatars. The conference was opened next morning. The action was really great. In the hall, there were leaders and professors of chairs of Russian language and literature from most of Ukrainian institutes of higher education, directors and workers of different editions, representatives of Russian State Duma, Moscow television. In presidium, there was Leonid Grach and Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea, Lazar, Crimean ministers of culture and education. Unfortunately, some of the speeches pronounced in the conference, are oriented rather politically, than scientifically. According to professor V.Kazarin, “studying of Russian language and literature as of foreign ones is a strategic mistake. As a result, Ukraine looses, but not Russia and not Russian culture. It is fight against Ukraine itself. (…) Today, Russian language is the shortest way to the world civilization for Ukraine and for many other CIS states. (…) While fighting against Russian language, we do not even stand still, but move back.” Professor L.Frizman said: “Ukrainian leaders behave immorally. While coming to Russia to ask for gas, they vow love to Russian language and assure of it never being considered as a foreign one in Ukraine. Though when they return home, they again commit their black deed.” For my ear, these speeches were too pro-Russian. The word “de-russification” was repeated many times, while within two days the conference was lasting, only once the report was made in Ukrainian. That was the report of Paltava philologist Pavel Mikhed about Russian classic Gogol. There were no Russian-Ukrainian dialogue at all, because there was no one specialist in Ukrainian philology in the conference. Why? Does Ukrainian culture have other troubles now? Though, troubles of Ukrainian philology were not discussed in the conference, but some monarchists attended at the conference with their dilettanteish appeals. While neglecting all above-mentioned remarks, the forum was perfect. The sittings were carried out in Levadia palace. There were many book exhibitions, concerts and excursions. The hosts were very hospitable. In general, Crimean authorities do much for culture. The local budget is not rich, though the authorities do not save money on culture. Yalta could be compared with greatest capitals of the world as for the number of its literary museums. And all of them are still being financed. Here, there are dozens of culture associations, libraries and reading rooms are in a very good condition. While the plan of international scientific conferences is filled up to 2003. I was leaving Yalta by a night trolley bus. Russian, Ukrainian and even Polish speech could be heard. Everybody understood each other very well.
Valery Serdyuchenko Specially for PRAVDA.Ru Ukraine Lvov – Simferopol – Lvov Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/04/22/40097.html