Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Aleksei Zhuravko: “What Kind of Country Do We Want to Leave Our Children and Grandchildren?”

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Dear Friends!

I offer my sincere congratulations today as Russians celebrate the Day of National Unity! Some say it’s a new and made-up holiday, but I think it’s a wonderful holiday; Russia needs it. Moreover, it’s a pity that there’s no such celebration in the Ukraine. Some say that we have a Day of Unity*, but it’s a very different thing.

  • A V Zhuravko uses two different Russian words for “unity”. Firstly, he uses “едиснтва”, the derivation from the Russian word for “one” is apparent. That is, unity as a singularity. Secondly, he uses “соборности”, which is a trickier word to “English”. It comes from the Russian word that denotes an “assembly”, or a “cathedral”, or a “collection”. It implies “togetherness” or “collected”, but not necessarily “oneness” (it can mean that, but it depends on the context… here, it’s obvious that it doesn’t). In addition, he uses Россияне, not Русский, for “Russian”. The first connotes a citizen of the Russian state (who needn’t be ethnic Russian); the second designates an ethnic Russian (who needn’t be a citizen of the Russian state).

Judge for yourself… the Ukrainian day celebrates the country. That is, a piece of land. We drew some boundaries on a map; it involves the people living within these borders. Because of this approach, we now have a civil war. We kill former Ukrainian citizens in the Donbass and try (extremely unsuccessfully) to starve the Crimeans because the land and marks on a map are more important to us than the people living on these lands are. Often, people accuse Russia of imperialism, but “empire” is when we value territories and lands more than the peoples who live there… in this sense, the Ukraine has far more imperial issues than Russia does.

The day of National Unity isn’t about the land… it’s about people and about the nationalities who live in Russia. Over 190 different nationalities live together in Russia! They create and develop what is Russia. Russia has 22 republics with 37 official languages. Besides these, 15 more languages have official status in Russia! Friends, imagine this number of different ethnicities and cultures working together to build a common future… there’s nothing else like it anywhere else in the world! By the way, I’d like to point up something about the Crimea. Under the Russian Federation, the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages have official status. On the other hand, the Ukraine, where more than half of people speak and think in Russian, couldn’t give Russian official status in 25 years, whereas in the Crimea, where (at most) 10 percent speak Ukrainian, the Russian Federation resolved the issue of the official status of the Ukrainian language immediately upon the Crimea’s accession to the Russian state. The unity of different peoples, ethnicities, religions, and languages for the sake of a common cause is the foundation of a federal system of statehood. E Pluribus Unum… “out of many one”… we love this motto from the USA. However, that’s why some are afraid of a federal system.

My Friends!

Fellow Ukrainians!

On this Russian Day of National Unity, I encourage all of us to think about what kind of country we want to leave our children and grandchildren. Do we want a country where the state values its territory above all, prepared to kill its own citizens by the thousands to preserve this territory? On the other hand, do we want a country where different peoples, different faiths, different religions, and different subgroups come together to form a Ukrainian Federation and work for the common good? For me, the choice is obvious. It’s clear that no matter how much the authorities try to demonise Russia, we’ll always be brothers and one people.

Guys, let’s live together!

In respect,

Aleksei Zhuravko

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