Putin has decided to issue the Russian passports to Ukrainians from the occupied part of Donbas because they are Russian speakers. According to the assistant to the president of Russia, Surkov, this is Russia’s duty to the Russian speakers. Journalist Vakhtang Kipiani noted, “And now just think, could he said ‘This is Russia’s duty to the people who speak and think Ukrainian’?”
Russian-speaking Ukrainian patriots are in such an ambiguous situation now. I think that for the majority of the patriotically minded Russian speakers this is not only the comfort matter but also the matter of pride or, at least of dignity. Let’s say, to preserve the language of their parents who could have been Russians. But they love the country which is their homeland now – Ukraine.
In western Ukrainian cities, it is often possible to meet already not young men and women, who live there dozens of years but remain Russian speakers.
I recently picked up a woman who told me about an incident which happened to her in the hospital.
There was an old woman lying on the next bed. As it usually happens they began to talk. An old woman spoke Russian. She has been living in Ternopil for forty years. To the question why she couldn’t learn Ukrainian during all this time, she answered something like: “Why should I learn it? People understand me. These are you, the Ukrainian speakers, who always switch to Russian at the first opportunity.”
And really, I often happened to see such a subservience of my fellow countrymen. It’s just enough for a tourist from Kharkiv to come, and the “client-oriented staff” immediately turns up. Despite the fact that a tourist wanted to practice Ukrainian with the native speakers. But hell no!
I think that the Russian-speaking Ukrainians made sure more than once that for the majority of Ukrainian speakers the language means nothing. Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians aren’t a threat to the Russian-speaking. The writer Les Podervianskyi wittily responded to this question in an interview with journalist Roman Skrypin.
The dialogue seemed to be like this:
“Ukrainians spit on the language.”
“With their spittle.”
Due to the quotas, Russian pop-music disappeared from the radio but bus drivers of “Ivano-Frankivsk – Yaremche” destination are still keeping pirate CDs in their glove compartments.
The Russian language is the weapon that can be used against the speakers. Even if they sincerely root for Ukraine’s independence. Why doesn’t Putin defend it? And issue them with Russian passports under the simplified system? Who cares that they are safe and sound with Ukrainian in Ternopil!