Sunday, August 22, 2004

To Russian Speakers in Ukraine

On the eve of the anniversary of Ukraine's independence, I came across this placard published in Lvivs'ka Hazetta back in Learn Ukrainian, for God's Sake!February of this year. I thought it was appropriate to post it now.

Seeing it brought to mind an interview conducted by Mykola Veresen' on Hromad'ske Radio several weeks ago. Veresen' is a quirky journalist who once upon a time worked for the BBC in Ukraine, then became a media star with his own TV show -Taboo - on the 1plus1 national television network, and now works at 5Kanal and Hromadske' Radio.

The interview was with a Russian political scientist. Veresen', who normally conducts all of his interviews in Ukrainian, prefaced this one with an intro, relating an old Ukrainian anecdote:

A Ukrainian travels to Moscow to visit a friend. The Ukrainian brings food, drink to his friend and covers his friend's table with everything he brought. The both of them then happily eat and drink it all. The friend from Moscow then travels to visit the Ukrainian. When the Russian arrives, the Ukrainian covers the table with food and drink from his larder and again both of them eat and drink everything.

Veresen' then proceeded to conduct the interview in Russian, clearly acknowledging his discomfort in doing so. Veresen', the Ukrainian, was expected to speak Russian, while the Russian was not expected to speak Ukrainian although this Russian political scientist has lived and worked in an independent Ukraine for many years.

You don't know it? Don't understand it? Don't honor it? Well, there's the train to Russia. Choo-Choo!