22.03.2006 | Inna Sukhorukova, Kharkiv

Freedom of Expression?


These days I hesitate for a long time because switching on my TV set, because even the best film will inevitably be interrupted by political advertising. If you don’t manage to turn off the TV in time, you can be frightened into sleeplessness, despite plenty of Soviet experience in ignoring any political ravings.

The films and news go on as usual, and there are things to see, but the information bait is overwhelming, and then you’re lost.

In the middle of a love story you suddenly see a majestic Mona Lisa, above which for some reason “Ne tak!” [“Not so” or “wrong”] is written.  While trying to fathom what’s wrong with the Mona Lisa, you don’t turn the TV off in time. And then you see that everything is wrong with her. Her face twitches, she winks and begins to bellow in some kind of sepulchral tone that men cannot manage without women. And you feel as though this vampire apparition of La Gioconda will plunge her fangs into your throat. It’s only later that you realize that the political bloc “Ne tak!” is greeting women on International Women’s Day 8 March! God help us! Poor Leonardo da Vinci! Then some “regional” phantoms in black-and-white wander around the screen proving how we will simply die if we don’t elect the Party of Regions. Is this a new recipe for immortality? If, everything is so simple, then it’s baffling why others don’t use the recipe. Or maybe it’s very expensive for a civilized society to have such figures as Yanukovich and Kushnaryov in power.

After that some young veterans of goodness what regenerate goodness knows what, and some people’s blocs allege that they are “the closest to the people”. You begin to feel you’re losing it completely but keep trying to convince yourself: “Stay calm! Freedom of expression is paramount!”

True, but our political figures have serious problems with this expression. Nothing is comprehensible from the advertisments. “Nasha Ukraina” [“Our Ukraine”] enjoins us not to betray Maidan (and who then betrayed it?) and insists that there is only one Ukraine (we have seen maps). And not a word about  future economic and political steps.

The bloc “PRP-PORA” again promises that criminals will be put in prison (but how can they achieve this if those same criminals are trying to gain a seat in  Parliament and, as a result, deputy’s immunity?).

Look at the pure porn  from “Nasha Natasha” (Natalya Vitrenko’s bloc): for some reason in her advertisement some hunky men are chasing an orange hare which they then thrash. So what did the hare do to Vitrenko, and where are defenders of animals’ rights?

Another advertisement from the same bloc hints that the Ukrainian language is only good for latrines. Is this freedom of speech? Nothing of the kind!  In any democratic country the authors of such “masterpieces” would at least pay an enormous fine and be withdrawn from the electoral race, but our democracy is, seemingly, the most “advanced” and boundless. So boundless that it obviously needs some limits. Nobody should so flagrant insult the language of the country, trample on patriotic sentiments. I know many people who are deeply offended by these statements. A Ukrainian woman phoned me. One of her relatives was a Jew  who was tried in the  “case of  the doctors” – an anti-Semitic process of the last days of Stalin’s power. The woman said that in “democratic” Ukraine she felt like Jews during the anti-Semitic actions of Stalin’s totalitarian regime. I don’t think any commentary is required…

Here the question arises: why are prosecutor’s offices, the Central Election Committee and executive bodies ignoring this problem? Many people think like this woman. Moreover, many people (including me) have a sense of aesthetic shock. There is no place to hide from the wave of dirt and negative information. If you don’t  watch TV, you’ll hear it from somebody else, since everybody is effected…

Yet, this does not disturb our “multicolored” politicians. They have forgotten about their voters to the extent that they do not even try to pretend that they pay heed to people’s opinions. I see no other reasons for the total silence in pre-election advertisements about economic, political and social plans. It is even incomprehensible which parties are to the right and which to the left.

Probably, both “Regions” and “Our Ukraine” regard themselves as liberal parties, because they are endorsed by businessmen – owners of great enterprises. Yet, slogans of the Party of Regions are must more populist than those of the Communist party, “Our Ukraine” tells only about petty technical achievements in economics, and Yulia Timoshenko’s bloc (BYuT) is interested only in achieving justice. Although BYuT is closer to left-wing, socialistic ideas in its economic leanings, this is not reflected either in its slogans or the speeches of its leaders. In any democratic countries political parties openly declare their orientation, and it is always known in these countries, which parties are to the left, the right and which are centrist. Precisely social-economic features of the parties are the essence of competition among the participants in the election contest.

I believe that only the Socialist Party of Ukraine openly and consistently presents itself as a European centre-left political force with a distinct program. Besides, the People’s Rukh of Ukraine fairly definitely follows the right-wing liberal politics.

However, I have questions to socialists too, in spite of the clarity and transparency of their programs and slogans. It is they who are supporting the so-called “political reform” which is against the people, and the majority of them voted for immunity of deputies at all levels. They then are also guilty of today’s pre-election disgrace. And all these wild slogans, public and not public quarrels between deputies, etc. prove that deputies don’t care about the people. They need from us only a tick near their party or bloc. Yet, is it good to elect “a pig in a poke”?

The law “On election of people’s deputies of Ukraine” and the notorious political reform have rendered meaningless our participation in the pre-election races. Political parties see only each other and hear only themselves.

Thus, the access of citizens to power is so narrowed that what revolution can you even speak of? You see, revolution is a historical process which widens and simplifies the access of citizens to power.

Today, because of the actions of legislative power directly encouraged by the executive power, we are swiftly approaching some kind of neo-feudalism – the creation in the country of a deputy  “caste”, immune and absolutely irresponsible. These neo-feudals are going to govern the country through oligarchic clans, and they need only devotion and tribute from population.

All these slogans and the pre-election squabbles sometimes ressemble a fight between hungry dogs. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Its foundation is the complete distancing of power from the interests of society, as it was in Soviet times (and maybe even worse!). So, the great Orwell, who revealed the real face of communism, has not lost his relevance. And now we, with our own hands, are building Orwell’s “animal farm”, where all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Oh, sorry, the advertisements are beginning again, the orange hare is running away from those morons. Let’s see – maybe this time they won’t catch the poor thing.

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