Immersion

Looking at this Facebook ad makes me think: Was the Orange Revolution in Ukraine a failure or a success?

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Russian Immersion in Kiev

The Orange Revolution is presented in the Western Media mostly as an uprising against election fraud and for democracy and freedom. But to Eastern Europeans it was mostly about Ukraine’s relationship with Russia: Will Ukraine develop its own independent identity or will it remain little but Russia’s twin? The questions of nationality, language and identity were far more important than the questions of democracy vs. authoritarianism.

Yuschenko won the Orange Revolution, but lost the last election. Ukrainians, even those who supported his nationalist ideas, were disappointed: he seemed to do little but talk about how important it is to speak and write Ukrainian instead of Russian, proclaimed controversial figures such as Roman Shukhevych national heroes and promoted the Holodomor narrative, also rather controversial.

The Ukrainian language is going rather strong – it is the preferred language for many young people, it has an excellent music scene and it’s flourishing online. But it is not yet the language of an overwhelming majority – millions of people in Ukraine speak Russian for various reasons. As this advertisement testifies, Russian, the “occupier’s language”, is strong enough in Kiev to be used for marketing the city.

So, the nationalistic element of the Orange Revolution may have been somewhat of a failure, which can’t be too bad, but its democratic element is probably doing well. The government can, and probably should, force Ukrainian in documents and education, but it cannot stifle other languages in commerce. Yuschenko may hate it, but that’s the beauty of democracy.

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1 Response to “Immersion”


  1. 1 Anton 2011-02-22 at 11:38

    Ты ещё Киевскую Русь вспомни :)


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