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They don't know us

I had quite a hilarious incident with a Russian TV crew once. They were filming a story in Belarus, and people were supposed to speak Belarusian there. They refused the help of a translator, “We understand Belarusian, don’t we?” But when the event has started, the TV crew got really nervous — they didn’t understand anything at all, so they apologized, requested a translator, and asked guiltily:

“What language does Lukashenko speak?”

So, they considered the distinctive Belarusian accent of the potato-fuhrer as an actual Belarusian language — what is there to translate? And they considered the greatest master of Russification and the killer of the Belarusian language to be almost like the poet Janka Kupala. But they probably never heard of him. Because he wrote in Belarusian.

Muscovites haven’t heard anything about Ukrainian culture as well. When I was still interested in it, that is in 2013, the Muscovites translated from Ukrainian only 8 books in an entire year. One of them was translated by my friend, Zaven Babloyan, and I called him “Mister 1/8 of Russian Marketplace of Translations From Ukrainian.” So, they knew at most Zabuzhko and Zhadan only.

To cure the hangover called “Ukrainian sadness” they had to read the Russian authors of Ukraine, which, with a few exceptions, spread Russian propaganda and neglected Ukrainian culture, psyched about the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute and poetic tours to Baikal.

But “he was ordered to go West” [a Russian song by Leonid Utesov — Ed.], namely to find and earmark the evil “Banderites”, and as the result, Ukrainian writers who were not well-hidden by their language were found — and those gold-mouthed, pro-Russian writers have nothing Ukrainian in them, just like Lukashenko has nothing Belarusian. Basically, from the Russian perspective, the fearful “Banderites” are embodied by the poet Oleksandr Kabanov, who published that tirade about bloody crayfish on Bandera Avenue in Kyiv, and by the deputy Maksym Buzhanskiy, who tried to sabotage the Ukrainian Language law since his first day in the parliament. None of them has the slightest idea of poets like Yuriy Izdryk or Andriy Lyubka, as if they lived in another galaxy. That’s what I call a masterful God’s sarcasm.

Actually, it’s more than only poets. Ukrainians who speak Russian and consider it their mother tongue are those terrifying “Banderites” for them, with their distinctive pronunciation of some Russian letters. And Russians, just like the potato-fuhrer, believe that this very language is, in fact, Ukrainian.

The citizens of Lviv, who paved the way for Russian tourists to Rynok Square, are perceived as foreigners, with whom you can get drunk in the restaurant Kryjivka [Kryjivka was the name of a hiding place of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army with Stepan Bandera as one of their leaders — Ed.], but at the same time they don’t even know that the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was created and mostly acted in Volhynia, so the real Kryjivkas were there — for most of them it’s a big secret, just like the “Lutsk Oblast” [Oblast is an administrative division in Ukraine, however, this one is called “Volhynia” and not “Lutsk Oblast” by analogy with other oblasts]. They are outside of the “Russian world” and, therefore, they’re saved, just like Khoma Brut [a character in Gogol’s story “The Viy” — Ed.] became invisible to the witch and other hellish creatures inside the holly circle.

Actually, our President also became a famous “Banderite” on their TV, according to the same principle.

He was just in the public eye of Russians all the time.

March 24 at 3:15 a.m.

Read the original text here

Ukrainian Text by Anton Sanchenko. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Apr 5, 2022

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