Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
29.07.2006 | Yevhen Sverstyuk
Politics and human rights

Address to the National Roundtable on 27 July 2006 during a meeting between the President of Ukraine, political forces and public figures on 27 July 2006


I suspect I was invited to this very round table as a person who says what he thinks.

First and foremost I see a huge discrepancy between the cautiously correct speeches by leading politicians and what is happening on the street. Who put up those tents?  Did they really want to arrive in Kyiv all wearing identical clothes and stand with the same banners in this heat?  And what do they actually want?  Why is no one in this room saying anything about that, as if silenced by shame?  Here now, taking advantage of this opportunity, I would like to ask the political elite: “What have you done for the peace of mind and the psychological health of the people?   I can’t see any efforts taken to raise the spirits of the people, but the attempts at grinding them down morally certainly stand out!  We have one people.  They need to be loved. And they are frightened of you, and don’t trust you.

Politicians are fond of the western word “parliament”. While people talk of the Verkhovna  Zrada [Betrayal][1], and give an accordingly low assessment of its standing.  Who has so reduced this standing?  I would like to put this question here, as this is also Ukraine’s standing.

Moral exhaustion is harder than poverty. Yet we somehow learned to protect ourselves with the song of the singer bard Ihor Zhuk:

“Don’t read newspapers. Save your frazzled nerves,

Cover the television with a Claude Monet print …”

The song arose probably still back then when Kuchma and Medvedchuk were trying out their new modal of a slave-owning order in the post-communist world.

However we’ve kept the Claude Monet print handy near the television

The expectations and hopes of the people were finally dealt a harsh blow on 6 July, with the suddenly emergence of the “Anti-Crisis” coalition. I would strengthen this Bolshevik name and make it “Anti-Crisis Anti-Coalition”.

What united them all besides a singe communist cradle?  Look at the Party of the Regions – I have been trying to fathom what this is for a long time. A white-and-blue team? Yet a team plays honestly against another team, and doesn’t extrapolate its own interests to encompass the entire East of the country. Why previously did we never hear anything about the antagonistic East?  Before, that is, this East began to be represented by Viktor Yanukovych?

It became clearer to me when I chanced upon a document, a photograph from 2004. There were Medvedchuk, Yanukovych and Kuchma with heads bowed down almost to the ground, with little Putin sitting in an armchair before them. Here is the photo – cut out from “Dzerkalo tyzhnya” [“The Weekly Mirror”] from 30 October. Now it’s clear – the political, moral and economic platform. Clear why there’s “the East” against “the West”, and irreconcilably at that.  Putin’s photographer M. Klimentiev captured the real essence very well.

THE COMMUNISTS’ PLATFORM – the bankrupts of the twentieth century – is recorded in the “Black Book of Communism”  However the post-communists have proved even worse than the communists. They don’t read “black books” about themselves; they don’t quote their leaders whose legacy they don’t reject, though they reject the crimes of communists. In Ukraine these crimes were the blackest, and the burden of guilt the heaviest for such crimes against the Ukrainian people.  However their ferocious determination is also the greatest.  They’ve shaken Ukraine and the Ukrainian language and drained it to the limit, and it’s unclear what their platform even is, when they’re so against its cleansing.

THE SOCIALISTS’ PLATFORM.  The same. Only it’s fallen apart. The same speculating on their native language, the same hypocrisy.  I don’t really have anything to add to what we heard from the address given by Josif Vinsky, the second person in the socialist party, about the first person – Oleksandr Moroz. How can you wash off the truth?  After all  these leaders can’t get away from their platform and when they do, they won’t be accepted in the West. Maybe they should write “a reference for Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Moroz that he’s not a traitor, but the speaker of the Ukrainian parliamentary republic?” The Ukrainian soul will not endure such amorality.  In essence, this is the continuation of an over seventy-year war being waged against the people. I would remind you that even in Brezhnev’s time we knew the Yevtushenko lines:

“But we lost on that uneven road,

Twenty million at the War,

And millions in the war against the people”.

The so-called political elite in Ukraine is against the people. It was against the people and for the leaders.

“You beat your rumbling drum.

Your drum from human skin.

People have too few wounds to their heart,

Many, however, holes. 

(Mykola Bazhan)

The only thing that could be of comfort is that in Biblical times it was all the same. In Psalm 11[2] it is said: “On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man”. 

I would like to remind those Godless people that their time is passing.. Their inglorious moment on the stage will soon end. And “God’s Law is perfect – it strengthens the soul”.

Later in Psalm 17: “.. with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the forward thou wilt show thyself forward.  For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks”.

And here I already read hints at the dissolving of parliament.

Sverstyuk, Yevhen Oleksandrovych – a prominent Ukrainian writer, philosopher and former political prisoner. He has written many books and numerous essays and articles on literature, psychology, philosophy, and religion, as well as translations from German, English and Russian. He is a laureate of the Shevchenko State Prise, and the International UNESCO Award. In Ukraine and in the West he has been known since the 1960s as a participant in the national liberation movement, and was one of the organizers of Ukrainian “samvydav” [samizdat].  He spent 12 years in the Soviet labour camps and in exile for his literary works, in particular for his book “Sobor u ryshtovanni” [“The cathedral under scaffolding”] (Paris, 1970).  He is presently editor of the National newspaper “Nasha Vira” [“Our Faith”], and is also the President of the Ukrainian PEN-Club, and a co-organizer of the civic organization “Hromadyanska pozitsiya” [“Civic Stand”]. 

[1]  Profuse apologies to pan Sverstyuk, for an inept translation of his play on words.  Verkhovna Rada is the Ukrainian parliament. The word for “betrayal” is “zrada”, and he thus suggests that people are changing the name to Verkhovna Zrada (translator’s note)

[2]  The numbering in English-language publications of the Bible is different – 11 is given as 12, and 17 as 18 (translator’s note)

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