Tuesday, February 28, 2006
"The cycle now seen -- with Ashgabat seeking debt payment, Plachkov and Ivchenko stonewalling, and Yushchenko promising to act while inviting Niyazov to visit -- became a familiar pattern during 2005 and seems to persist. Incoherence, conflicting messages, lack of transparency, and undue influence of group and personal interests continue to characterize Kyiv's response to the gas and other crisis phenomena, despite the hopes that been placed in the Orange government. Pro-reform ministers have been reduced to secondary roles on gas policy, at a growing cost to Ukraine's interests."
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
That is, Baba Omaha says that during her childhood in Chetverylivka everyone said “spasybi” and “velyki spasybi,” and that the first time she heard “djakuju” being commonly used was from Galicians in the DP camps after the war. She also says that the first time she heard Russian was when Bolshevik soldiers came to her family’s home, labeled them kulaks and took away their tractor (which was one of two used by everyone in the hutor, while her father did the maintenance on both the tractors), animals, and foodstuffs, including all the bread and grain they could find. She began to learn Russian after surviving the holodomyr in a new school that was established on the new collective farm. She recalls having her teacher put a bar of soap in her mouth for refusing to speak. Baba Omaha is neither a particularly patriotic nor unpatriotic person; she is best described as deeply humanist. It seems that, as a young girl she was simply able to detect the inhumanity of linguicide. . .
It was in the DP camps that she came into touch with both sides of Galician nationalism, i.e., with both its divisive and polarizing aspect as well as its admirable and unifying aspects. The Galician patriots she met complained bitterly about her supposedly Russified speech. Baba Omaha insists that she never learned Russian very well, though she has a better than average facility in languages, especially in other Slavic languages.
In order to survive socially in the camps, Baba Omaha says she quickly learned to speak proper Galician dialect. Before then, she had learned Polish well enough to fake it in the Polish side of the DP camps until the allies stopped sending former Soviet citizens back to murder and exile; she therefore learned to get by in Polish before she settled among the remaining Ukrainians in the camps. From Poltava, she had never heard Polish before then and says that she spoke very little, only what was necessary, so as not to give herself away--which she of course eventually did, but that’s another story. Still before then she had learned quite a bit of German during her time as a Nazi slave, and she often tells the story of an encounter with a German officer in such vivid detail, using such fluent German phrases, that she practically becomes that officer in the acting-out of the role he still plays in her memory. Her second husband was a Czech fellow who, like she, was a post-war refugee to the West and whose tongue she learned quite well. She also had a Belarusyn friend in Omaha who spoke actual Belarusyn, from whom she learned quite a bit. That she had learned to speak Galician-dialect Ukrainian in the camps also helped socially when she settled in Omaha. Omaha’s Ukrainian community was a feature of the post-war immigration and has been, like many other Ukrainian communities of North America, Galician-dominated.
However, her native dialect has lurked in her subconscious, and as she gets older and the tasks of self-conscious control become more difficult, some of her native Poltavan manners of speaking reappear. Thus, she has this story to tell: A few years back, she hitched a ride home after an event at the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church of Omaha from one of the more prominent members of that community, a Galician woman. Baba Omaha has never learned to drive, and so getting out of the woman’s car she said, “Nu, Pani, velyki spasybi.” This Pani replied by saying something like, “Oh, Halja, after all these years, you still don’t speak proper Ukrainian” Then to paraphrase what Baba Omaha next said to me (and pardon the fact that I did not type this out in Ukrainian Cyrillic, and that I left out soft signs, and that I probably made other mistakes, especially with grammatical marks; my Ukrainian, my first language as a child and then later lost, is now a second language mostly reconstructed from listening and a little studying. . .):
“Jaki ukrajintsi vony domajujut Vony je? Ja mozhu skazaty shcho Vony, Halychany, rozmovljajut majzhe jak Poljaky! Ja nikoly ne chula rusku movu, tilkyj koly Bilshovyky pryjikhaly do nas v hutori i skazaly shcho my kuljaky, i vzjaly vsjo. . .vsjo. . .vid nas. Todi mala ja vchyty rusku movu v shkoli, v novymu kolkhospi, ale ja pohano vchyla. Po pershe meni ne spadovalasja vchyty, bula ja taka pohana studentka. A takozh ja bula taka uperta. . .Pomjataju shcho ja, kolys, mala sisty z mylom u buzi bo ja ne khtila hovoryty po jikhnomu, po ruski. Ja bula dytyna, i pomjataju shcho ja vidchuvala shcho, to ne je moja mova. A my vzhe skazaly spasybi v hutori. Tse takozh ukrajinska mova. Akh, Stefane, ty znajesh jak Ukrajintsi je! Vony tak ljubljut svarytysja, a khto je Ukrajinets, a khto ne je. . .A ja zavzhdy dumala shcho my vsi Ukrajintsi!”
Who's the Smiley American? Me with my second-cousin Olja in Poltava
Note: perhaps spasybi is a Ukrainianized version of a Russian word. I don't know, and although I am not a linguist (though linguistics fascinates me), it does seem that perhaps both spasiba and spasybi derive from an old East Slavic root. I beg more knowledgeable people to comment here. But the overall gist of how Baba Omaha has been treated at times by fellow emigre Ukrainians conveyed here is quite accurate.
Update 2: Just for the sake of balance, I hope that readers will recall that I have strong roots in Galicia and spent nearly a year during the past two years residing and participating in the life of the town of Pidhajtsi, a town in the heart of Halychyna. For example, see this; this, especially the comments section; and more or less all of the posts during the month of November and October, which contain posts with photos of life and work in Pidhajtsi, or in a town in the heart of Galicia/Halychyna. I am proud of my Galician heritage!
Update 2: Galician nationalism was the rock upon which the tidal wave of Little Russianism that was rolling across Ruthenia once and for all broke before striking land. The waters of that tidal wave are still receding and continued storms in the north and east slow the process; our great hope of course is that there is not another major earthquake in the north that pushes yet another massive wave of Little Russianism across the land. (Perhaps some else has come up with this metaphor elsewhere. . .)
Monday, February 13, 2006
RFE Crime and Corruption Editor Comes Out Against Gas Deal; Interesting Report on Role of Ukraine's Media in OR
A report I just found on the net about the role of Ukraine's media in the OR from the International Federation of Journalists here. The overall tale was nothing new for someone already familiar with the subject, but there were some specific details here and there throughout the report that I had not heard before. . .
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Above is a picture taken of Baba Omaha shortly before she was kidnapped, brought to Germany, and put to work as a slave in a munitions factory that produced bombs and bullets for the Nazi war machine. She is on the right seated next to her cousin. She was 17.
Baba Omaha always shows this picture with the introduction, "Look at this picture of me, looking like an Indian." Hm. Perhaps there is a bit of Tatar blood that runs in this family from a Cossack settlement. . .
It was 1942 when Baba Omaha was working outside and a German lorry came rolling through Chetverylivka, snatching up children and taking them back to Poltava, where they were packed into railcars for a nightmarish trip to Germany.
I have 100 pp written so far of her biography; I have another 100 pp. of my paternal grandparents. Someday I will get a grant and finish.
Barely nine years earlier, Baba Omaha's family were nearly starving to death, and were persecuted as kulaks: to the Bolshevik administrators of the holodomyr, the Chetverylo family of the settlement Chetverylivka = kulaky.
Baba Omaha's father played the violin and her brother played accordion. Baba Omaha and her mother loved to sing along and just to sing in general, and the people of their hutor frequently asked the family to play. She recalls summertimes with children coming by and begging for a tune or two. She remembers her father happily obliging, and that he had a love of children, and particular affection for his little Halja. She absolutely adored her brother, who died in the war, and this probably explains her love for the accordion, which I have inherited from her. I have more than once exclaimed, "The accordion is the highest expression of human musical consciousness!"
The next time she made contact with her family was in 1964, more than 20 years later. They had trouble getting in touch with each other; her repeated attempts to contact her family had failed, and they too had had trouble contacting her, not the least because she originally came to the US under a false name and passport. For much her time in the DP camps, she had used a Polish passport, fearful of being returned to Ukraine, where it was rumored throughout the camps that people returning were being shot or sent to the GULAG.
So much had happened to her in the meantime from her last contact with her family; so much inhumanity she had suffered. The things she survived are unimaginable--I have lost count how many times she outwitted Death. In my 31 years of life, I have never even once come as close to death as she did, countless times, before she was even 20. Nonetheless, or perhaps because of that, she is the most loving and kind person I think I may ever know. Baba Omaha can not stand to see a sad face. Even if her own heart is breaking, she will always seek to put a smile on another's. I have never known a more humble person who loves to laugh and to make others laugh as she. The movie Life is Beautiful was in many ways about my Baba Omaha.
She went back to Poltava in 1982. Her sister had come to the US in the 1970s (gotta find out the year), and wept when she saw a grocery market.
Her sister, now elderly and suffering from not only major health problems but also from poor healthcare in Ukraine, now complains that life in Ukraine was easier in Soviet times, and is a supporter of Oleksandr Moroz.
Her sister still sings beautifully. I was in Poltava a number of times during the past two years to sing and eat and drink and laugh, and to practice my Poltava dialect and surzhyk. They liked teasing me for my Banderivets manner of speech. Back in Pidhajtsi, playing video of my first visit to Poltava, my Galician family could hear the sing-songy Poltava dialect as clearly as a Yankee can distinguish Southern speech or vice versa.
By the way, members of my Poltava family do not speak true surzhyk; I have a Galician relative who has been in the army for some 15 years, and that fellow speaks the real thing that is called surzhyk. The speech of Baba Omaha's Poltava family is still at least 85% or more Ukrainian, which means it is Poltavan-dialect Ukrainian with heavy splashings of Russian. For example, they say: "Zdrastvyj!" instead of "Zdarov!" and "ni nada" instead of "ne treba;" and "opshe" (or however you spell it) instead of "zahali;" and you will hear them say "spasiba" as much as "djakuju" (and not ever the more Central Ukrainian/Poltavan variant of "spasybi").
I hope to take Baba Omaha back at least once more.
Been working today on her biography/oral history. . .
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
The demonstrations are indicative of the extent to which we are living in an integrated, singular global society. To grasp what I mean by this, see the books Empire and Multitude by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, for starters. It is a global society in which nation-states increasingly act as the administrative units of a global governmental structure. People only get this upset and rebel in these numbers when they have something legitimate to gripe about. As the political philosopher Spinoza wrote, people don't get rebellious because they are wicked and evil; they get uppity when government has failed them, immiserating them. Local governments throughout the Muslim world have failed their peoples, and often in no small part because of Western design, or the consequences thereof.
Thus, there is much, much more to the Muslim world's outrage than religion.
This is a wake up call to the global elites that run the world economy and what one could call the world government that is on par with the wake up call that French elites recently recieved.
I am not in favor of radical Islam in any way, no more than I am in favor of the truly fundamentalist and ideologically-driven Bush administration. This is, as Tariq Ali put it, NOT a clash of civilizations, but a clash of fundamentalisms. The truth of everyday people AS ALWAYS lies in between, and there is much more to their rage than religion.
Thus, as always, one is a fool to think in terms of "them." "They do this," "they do that." Reality is far too complex to be reduced into us v. them. Emotionally shallow people suffering a poverty of genuine spiritual understanding think in such narrows ways and divide the world thusly.
I am as mad at the Bush administration and plenty of fundamentalist Christians for making a mockery of the teachings of Christ by turning his message into a justification for warmongering as one should be about the perversion of Muhammed's teachings.
Instead of condemning the protestors, the offenders should be looking into themselves to see what they have done that has caused the harm and rage. The indeed great teacher that was Jesus, that character being trumpeted as one of the founders of "Western Civilization," never said that it was OK to offend or to provoke.
No matter the target, no matter the means, war is just war: terror. Why else was the attack called "shock and awe?" What is terror? Shock (over the violence) and Awe (over the power). Innocent people die. No warrior is innocent. No war is ever truly justified. War spoils all; winner and loser all are victims.
Both the real Jesus and the real Muhammed taught this lesson. Warmongerers among both their followers make a mockery of their teaching.
Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone (in judgment).
The Danish newspaper has in the past declined to print images equally as offensive to Christians as these ones have proven to be to Muslims.
How about being mad as hell at the double standard behind that?
Maybe that's the whole point behind the rage: the double standards at the heart of the Western-led New World Order?
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I put the "pro" in parantheses above because this is a stance beyond "pro-Moscow;" it is a stance for the "Belarusynization" of Ukraine, to put it in a term Kuzio used some years ago when Kuchma took his decisive turn toward greater authoritarianism and reliance on Russia.
From RFE/RL newsline:
UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION LEADER SEES ECONOMIC SPACE AS SOLUTION TO GASPROBLEM. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, head ofthe opposition Party of Regions, told journalists in Donetsk on 6February that the creation of a Single Economic Space with Belarus,Kazakhstan, and Russia is "the only realistic way for resolving thegas crisis," the "Ukrayinska pravda" website(http://www.pravda.com.ua/) reported. According to Yanukovych, thatconclusion was reached during recent talks between his party and thepro-Kremlin Unified Russia. "Our countries should have a singleenergy policy," Yanukovych noted. "Russia is vigorously integratingwith the European economic space, and it is very important forUkraine not to let this process bypass our state." JM
2) The following link to RFE has two things:
A) Article UKRAINE: TERMS OF NEW GAS DEAL UNCLEAR
B) To the right of the page you can find a link and listen to the panel discussion about the gas crisis that was held by RFE on January 19
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
"The signing of the January 4 gas agreement with Russia illustrated the dangers stemming from the growing weakness of Ukraine's state institutions. Basically, just two individuals, Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov and Naftohaz Ukrainy chairman Oleksiy Ivchenko, negotiated and signed a dubious agreement in complete secrecy in Moscow, without the support of experts from government agencies that are traditionally involved in such negotiations, without consultation with the cabinet of ministers, and without public accountability even after the highly controversial agreement had been signed. Their briefings afterward to the media proved misleading, and they then declined to testify to the parliament, in effect setting up Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov to take the fall. (Yekhanurov initially also dissembled on the gas agreement, but eventually distanced himself from it.) Meanwhile, President Viktor Yushchenko continues describing the gas agreement as an unqualified success even crediting Russian President Vladimir Putin for contributing to the purported success despite massive domestic and international criticism of key parts of the agreement."
PUTIN-KOCHARIAN LOVE FEST CONCEALS REAL PROBLEMS here
"Russia's gas price hike to Armenia, demands for property in return for temporary price relief, supply cuts following the pipeline blasts in the North Caucasus, unilateral Russian announcements about adding weaponry to the Russian base in Armenia, and finally three murders of ethnic Armenians within one week in Moscow by the usual "hooligans" -- all this overshadowed Presidents Vladimir Putin and Robert Kocharian's festive opening of the "Year of Armenia in Russia" on January 22-23 in the Kremlin. None of those problems were acknowledged at the official love fest, however."
PUTIN ON KOSOVO AND POST-SOVIET CONFLICTS: DESTRUCTIVE AMBIGUITY here
"In practice, Moscow would gain little by formalizing those secessions. Its recognition of the would-be statelets would carry no consequences in international law; would cast Russia openly as an aggressor; would irrevocably end Russia's hopes to regain a measure of political influence in Georgia, Azerbaijan, or Moldova; and would alarm and alienate other countries as well. Moscow is content with the de facto situation in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Karabakh, and Transnistria. It is interested in prolonging the uncertainty, not in providing any legal or pseudo-legal solutions either in those conflicts or in Kosovo. Moscow's operational goal is to use the Kosovo negotiations as a tool for inhibiting U.S. and EU involvement in efforts to resolve post-Soviet conflicts, at a time when Washington and Brussels consider ways of increasing their involvement. Russia hopes to entice the United States and the European Union into a quid pro quo whereby Moscow would not stand in the way of their solution for Kosovo, if Washington and Brussels tolerate the de facto existing situation in the post-Soviet conflicts."
INTEREST REBOUNDS IN TRANS-CASPIAN PIPELINE FOR TURKMEN GAS here
"The obvious solution in Ukraine's and overall Western interest is going ahead with the trans-Caspian project. Official Kyiv, however, does not seem to be working toward that goal.
MOSCOW, KYIV DISRUPTING NEGOTIATIONS ON TRANSNISTRIA here
"The EU had urged this arrangement in order to curb massive illegal commerce [including the lucrative and cruel sex-slave trade; this is a major portal through which Ukrainian girls and women are smuggled out of the country] to and from Transnistria via Ukraine. The new rules were to take effect on January 25. However, Kyiv officials acting on Yushchenko's authority overruled Yekhanurov on this issue."
"This marks the fourth time that a Ukrainian president has abrogated an EU-supported agreement signed by the Ukrainian and Moldovan prime ministers to introduce European rules on that border. Leonid Kuchma cancelled such agreements in 2001 and 2003. Yushchenko did so for the first time in July 2005: at NSDC Secretary Petro Poroshenko's behest, he received Smirnov in Kyiv and ordered an indefinite suspension of the agreement Yulia Tymoshenko signed with Tarlev."
POROSHENKO DRAFTS, YUSHCHENKO LAUNCHES A PLAN FOR TRANSNISTRIA here
(Older, summertime Socor piece on Poroshenko and Transnistria)
"Many suspected at the time -- and some in the new Ukrainian authorities are certain -- that corrupt officials in the Odessa oblast and in Kyiv took their cut from Transnistria's illicit trade, which also created political complicities that persist between Tiraspol and elements in Ukraine's authorities. Initially, the new leadership in Kyiv declared that it was prepared to stop the illicit trade on that border. It briefly introduced some restrictions, but lifted them in March, when Poroshenko's Council took over the lead role on the Transnistria issue from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
RUSSIAN ENERGY SUPPLY CUTOFF TO GEORGIA: ANOTHER WAKE-UP SIGNAL TO THE WEST here
"The cut-off in supplies to Georgia underscores again for all consumer countries the urgency of breaking their overdependence on Russian supplies. These are proving politically unreliable, commercially onerous, subject to unelucidated attacks even in the country of origin, and of insufficient availability in the short term for all internal and external customers of Russian energy supplies."
AS RUSSIA IS DOWNGRADED TO "UNFREE" IS IT UNFIT TO HEAD THE G-8 (Kuzio)? here
"The Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute is therefore no longer a conflict between two former Soviet republics but a conflict between an autocratic, non-democratic regime headed by "Putin's Mafia Politics" (Wall Street Journal Europe, January 3) and a democratizing regime headed by Viktor Yushchenko. As the Daily Telegraph (January 3) pointed out, 'The methods of gangsterism and blackmail now being used by [Russian gas giant] Gazprom are reminiscent of the Soviet era.'"
" Both Russia and Belarus believe that civil society only exists because of foreign funding, an attitude inherited from the former USSR when dissidents were routinely accused of being CIA or 'Zionist' agents. This wariness is complicated by another Soviet-era holdover: conspiracy theories [also held over by lots of Western leftists] that blame the democratic 'color revolutions' on the United States."
"These rankings show how quickly the post-communist states in East-Central Europe and the CIS are radically diverging. They also confirm that 2004 and 2005 were pivotal years, during which Russia turned toward autocracy and Ukraine toward democracy.
Few Western commentators have bothered to connect Russia's growing autocracy and undemocratic regime at home with a return to a neo-Soviet foreign policy. It is now evident that Russia's aggressive stance towards Ukraine, evident both in the gas conflict and during Ukraine's 2004 presidential elections, indicates how closely Russia's domestic and foreign policies are interwoven.
The resignation of Russian presidential adviser Andrei Illarionov on the eve of the gas conflict brought home this inter-connection. The use of gas pressure, Illarionov claimed, was first tested inside Russia during elections for regional governors. After their success, the Russian authorities decided to apply them towards foreign countries (grani.ru, December 21).
The gas dispute is merely the latest evidence of the close connection between Russia's undemocratic domestic policies and its support for autocratic regimes abroad. Of the six CIS states that are designated by Freedom House as 'unfree,' four are politically aligned with Russia: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Russia's support for Uzbekistan's brutal massacre of civilians in May 2005 led to Tashkent's re-alignment away from the United States and toward Russia.
During President George W. Bush's second term the United States has gradually become more aware of the links between Russia's undemocratic domestic and aggressive external policies. But it is 'old Europe,' inside the European Union, that is now finally having to come to terms with the real Russia under Putin. Germany's new government has already changed that country's view of Russia. But traditionally Russophile France continues to view Putin's Russia favorably, a stance that, as the gas conflict proves, is out of touch with reality."
This is from the January 25 RFE/RL newsline on Eastern and Southeastern Europe:
'OUR UKRAINE' OFFERS COALITION DEAL FOR ORANGE REVOLUTION COMBATANTS.The pro-presidential electoral bloc Our Ukraine has appealed to political forces that supported Viktor Yushchenko's presidential bidduring the Orange Revolution in 2004 to sign a coalition agreementbefore the 26 March parliamentary elections, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 25 January. "Our potential coalition partners should recognize the president as the leader of an 'orange coalition,'"Roman Zvarych from Our Ukraine told the agency. Zvarych also said OurUkraine makes the formation of such an "orange coalition" contingent on its partners' readiness to annul the dismissal of Prime MinisterYekhanurov's cabinet by parliament on 10 January. Our Ukraine reportedly made its coalition offer to the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, the Socialist Party, the Kostenko-Plyushch Ukrainian People's Bloc, and the electoral bloc formed by the PORA youth organization and the Reforms and Order Party. JM
I agree with the sentiment, but it really should not be someone of such questionable credibility as Roman Zvarych making this case.