January 6, 2010

Orange Forever!

I've received a letter from Bishop Paul Peter Jesep, U.S. Spokesperson for His Beatitude Metropolitan Myfodii of Kyiv and All Ukraine, from Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Kyiv-Patriarchate. With his permission, I post it here. It's a very interesting reflection on political beliefs in the American-Ukrainian community:

"Ukraine's Orange Revolution lives! The country's cultural and spiritual reawakening shows that requiems and obituaries are premature. President Viktor Yushchenko has been criticized for his political and economic stewardship. Some of it justified. Although not yet recognized, his legacy is positive and significant. He is the first Ukrainian president who embraced and encouraged the country's distinct Eastern Slav consciousness. Yushchenko challenged his countrymen, Jew, Muslim, Christian, and non-believer to ask who they were as one Ukrainian nation. He reached out to Jews and Muslims as no leader has before to underscore their contributions to Ukraine. Ultimately, a country's soul is defined by its artists, writers, composers, and the language its people speak. Although unable to show a deft touch in educating those who identified with Russian culture in eastern Ukraine or the Crimea, Yushchenko nurtured a national reawakening. He did so, in part, at the expense of bread and butter issues during a worldwide recession.


Yushchenko showed no sympathy in dealing with Russia's national identity crisis. What does it mean to be Russian without Kyiv, the Mother of All Russian cities? His indifference fueled Moscow's ongoing efforts to marginalize Ukrainian culture, language, and history in the international media. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine is nothing more than a breakaway province. He incorrectly insists that it never existed as a nation prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union. Ukraine has a thousand year history. Its final incorporation into Russia occurred when Empress Catherine finally defeated the libertarian, free-spirited Ukrainian kozak state with its rudimentary democratic structure. Spiritually, there can be no Russia without Kyiv. Culturally, politically, and intellectually Moscow cannot let go of Ukraine because to do so leaves its own national identity in question. The Eastern Slavic soul beats in Kyiv, not Moscow, Novgorod, St. Petersburg, or anywhere else in Russia or Belorussia.


It's ironic that Viktor Yanukovych, the Moscow supported presidential candidate from eastern Ukraine, recently told the Associated Press that "the development of . . . democratic principle in our country" was a "price . . . too great." Yet Yanukovych benefits from the very freedom he criticizes in his campaign. During the Associated Press interview Yanukovych also mocked the Ukrainian language as "gibberish" and the messiness of democracy as a "variety show." He vows commitment to a Leninist "rule of law" and the restoration of the Russian language to its superior place.


Regardless of who is the country's president, the sky is blue if Ukrainians in the country and those in the Diaspora work to cultivate the Ukrainian language. If young artists, writers, dancers, musicians, composers, and Christian and non-Christian spiritual leaders in Ukraine nurture the Ukrainian-Eastern Slav soul then the wheat fields are golden. President Yushchenko opened the door. Complacency will shut it. The Orange Revolution is not about personalities. It is about ideas, values, and principles. It's about the culture of a people. Ukrainians are the only Eastern Slav people with the courage to wrestle with the challenges of democracy. Democracy is not about convenience. It is about liberty.


The Orange Revolution can and will live on so long as patriots and those in the Diaspora recognize the critical importance of promoting Ukrainian art, culture, language, and literature. It will not matter who is president so long as ordinary Ukrainians in Ukraine and the Diaspora work to nurture, preserve, and further the country's distinct heritage."


  1. is it fair to assume from this that diaspora does not care about economic prospects of Ukraine?

  2. Could you elabore more on this? Do you mean that Ukraine's economy has negative prospects if Viktor Yushchenko is still Ukraine's President?

  3. Exactly. In addition, I find it peculiar that the single focus of the message is cultural identity of Ukrainians at the times when the country's GDP is shrinking rapidly...