13 August 2009

Yushchenko Responds

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko responded to Dmitrii Medvedev's charges of "anti-Russian" behavior today in a consciously respectful (albeit at times exasperated) letter that spoke of a "tradition of friendship and good-neighbourly relations" between Ukraine and Russia rather than "fraternal" ties (as Medvedev asserted repeatedly in his letter). Refuting Medvedev's charge that Ukraine has used the tragedy of 1932-33 as part of an "anti-Russian" project, Yushchenko said:

[У]країнський народ віддає також данину пам'яті мільйонам росіян, білорусів, казахів та представників інших національностей, що померли від голоду у Поволжі, на Північному Кавказі, в Казахстані та інших регіонах колишнього СРСР. Відомо, що під час проведення Акції пам'яті «Незгасима свічка», присвяченої 75-м роковинам Голодомору в Україні, у вікнах сотень міст в усьому світі, у тому числі й у Росії, горіли свічки, що є свідченням багатонаціональної солідарності з Україною у визнанні цього факту.

The Ukrainian people also commemorate the millions of Russians, Belorussians, Kazakhs, and members of other nationalities who died from hunger in the Lower Volga region, the North Caucasus, Kazakhstan, and other regions of the former USSR. It should be noted that during the "Inextinguishable Candle" campaign, dedicated to the 75th Anniversary of Holodomor in Ukraine, candles were lit in the windows of hundreds of cities around the world, including in Russia -- bearing witness to a multinational solidarity with Ukraine in recognition of [Holodomor].

The full letter can be found at Ukrains'ka Pravda.

11 August 2009

The Rhetoric of Memory and the "Crisis" in Ukrainian-Russian Relations

Dmitrii Medvedev, visibly perturbed despite the tranquility of his surroundings, addressed the public in a new videoblog entry today to decry the Kremlin's relations with Kyiv, explicitly throwing himself into Ukrainian presidential election politics perhaps earlier than expected. In his remarks, based on a letter sent today to Viktor Yushchenko, Medvedev cites Gogol''s 1842 imperial-friendly edition of Taras Bul'ba as an elegy to, in his view, less acrimonious times -- Нет уз святее товарищества, "There is no stronger bond of fellowship" (i.e. than the bond between Ukrainians and Russians), words not original to the 1835 edition of Bul'ba -- and identifies Ukrainian efforts to come to terms with the legacy of Soviet terror as evidence of a larger "anti-Russian" project.