war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.


V. Gryvnytskiy, Kharkiv
Kharkiv is a large scientific and educational center of Ukraine. As such, it had a university and more than a score of higher schools, which were called institutes. When Ukraine became an autonomous state and financial difficulties began, it rumored that institutes would be closed and only the university would remain. The result was predictable: all institutes were renamed to universities. Half a dozen of freshly created private higher schools also became universities, or academies, or both. Now Kharkiv can be included into the Guinness Book of Records as the city with more than a score of universities. The almanac ’Universitates’ (Universities) expectably appeared, which soon will become a periodic journal. In what follows we shall review several articles from the almanac.

I. E. Tarapov, the former rector of the genuine university (now it is called national, to point it out in some way), wrote the article ’The necessary condition of the dignified survival of the people’. The article begins with numbers that illustrate the process of disintegration of Ukrainian science. Every year about 1,300 Doctors and Candidates leave science; the financing of science since the creation of the Ukrainian state has decreased by 20 times, while the financing of education decreased only by 10 times. This process is continuing: in 1996 the financing of education equaled 0.45% of the GNP, while in 1998 it became 0.34% of the GNP. The process of disintegration concerns the elementary and secondary schools as well. In the country, where everyone was literate, we have already 30 thousand of illiterate children of school age. In towns we lack two thousand teachers, in the country schools the situation is worse.

Every outstanding nation makes its contribution to the culture of mankind, best samples of literature and art, most important scientific achievements. Once Ukraine contributed Shevchenko’s poetry, best creations of Lesia Ukrainka and Ivan Franko, scientific treaties by Wernadski and Bogomolets, creations of Ukrainian mathematicians and physicists, the first splitting of an atomic nucleus, and many others. Now we can contribute only national styles of hair-dress and very wide trousers.

One cannot help but pose two inevitable questions: ’Who profits from the new manner of Ukrainian achievements?’ and ’Who is responsible for the current situation?’ Objectively, what has happened is profitable for well-developed countries: they are interested in making Ukraine a source of raw materials and cheap labor. Is it done consciously? The question is essential only for the political propaganda. The answer to the second question is also simple: our rulers of all political colors are responsible. Our country is not the first one which got into a profound crisis. Recall after-war Germany and Japan. Now these countries, having retained their science and education, are the most progressive.

Yes, we have become a very poor country, but we waste our scarce resources stupidly, so, for example, we repair the central Kyivan street Kreshchatik and finance extremely numerous missions of our officials abroad.

It is interesting to learn the details of the destruction of higher schools. Lack of financing drove away the reserve of the stuff. Elderly people, who do not want to run abroad, will go the way of all flesh in 10 - 15 years, and there is no one to replace them. Once the reserve worked in the research sector of higher schools, now this reserve is practically closed. For example, in Kharkiv National University during the last five years the number of research workers diminished more than by one third.

It is interesting to analyze their destinies after they left science. Some of them became businessmen, sometimes very influential ones. In Russia we know such persons as Doctor of Mathematics Berezovskiy, a physicist Nemtsov, economists Chubais and Gaydar. In Ukraine science did not put out people of such caliber, but more former scientists go to business than to scientific positions abroad. Those who have not run to business or abroad practically starve. The polarization of people as to their income is abominable: the richest 10% compared to the poorest 10% have the income 12 times larger.

The average age of Ukrainians, according to the UNO data, takes the 120th place out of 198 countries, at the same level as Tunisia. The International Organization of Health Care, basing on the data of new-born babies defects, classify Ukraine as a country with dying out population.

Professor Tarapov wants very much people in power to pay attention to intelligentsia. Being a mathematician, he uses such arguments as those, which the outstanding Italian mathematician Volterra used in his ’Mathematical Theory of the Struggle for Life’, as those once proposed by Charles Darwin and Francis Bacon, who insisted that animals mutually aide each other. In the conclusion he expresses hope that Ukraine will immediately start to cherish those layers of the population which represent the nation’s intelligence.

This conclusion seems wishful thinking.

Now in Ukraine smolders a discussion, in which supporters of the Russian language insist on making it equal to the Ukrainian as a state language. They remind that in many countries of the modern world several languages have the official status. The supporters of the unique Ukrainian as a state language try to prove that such experience is non-applicable in Ukraine. The article of A. R. Smirnov ’Multilinguism in modern political nations’ describes the problem as a whole.

Switzerland is a typical country with many official languages. Supporters of the only (Ukrainian) official language in Ukraine do not accept this fact. They say: ’There is no Swiss language and there is no Swiss nation, whereas the Ukrainian nation exists, as well as the Ukrainian language’. A. R. Smirnov presents many arguments that the Swiss nation does exist, as well as Belgium, which uses French, Flemish and Wallon. The author also mentions Finland, where 8.5% Swedes live and both Finnish and Swedish are acknowledged as official languages. In Canada there are also two state languages: English from long ago and French since 1967 (centenary of the dominion).

On the contrary, different nations can have the same language as it is clearly seen in the countries of the Latin America.

The after-war history gives several examples of forming young political nations which out of consideration of practical use appointed the language of the former colonizers as the state language. This language serves as a good intermediary for carriers of numerous local languages. The bright example of this sort is the multi-national India. The total number of languages used in the modern India is about 500 (about 700, counting dialects). In 1966 the English language was cancelled as the state one by Indian nationalists. This linguistic experiment ended in massive unrest of national minorities (in India they make about 100 million). Next year the government had to return to the previous situation. That is a fact than should be known by the activists of ’Prosvita’, whose office is situated in downtown Kharkiv across the monument of Shevchenko, who wrote both in Ukrainian and in Russian. The entrance to ’Prosvita’ is decorated with the slogan: ’The language of occupants cannot be the state one’.

Another instructive example is the long way of the South African Union to a democratic language policy. The colonial history of the country began in 1652, the colonists were from the Netherlands. The Dutch language of the first colonists was later influenced by German and French, and by and by it transformed to a special dialect which later got the name Afrikaans. Then, in 1795, the Great Britain won from Holland the South of the country, near Cape Town, and the English language became the only official language in that part of the country. In late 30s of the 19th century the white inhabitants, who spoke Afrikaans, left the lands and drifted to the North and North-East. There they founded three republics, where the state language was Afrikaans. In 1899-1903 the English-Boer war began, in which Boers were finally defeated. As a result, English became the only official language, although Afrikaans was permitted to be used locally. With the foundation of the South African Union in 1910 Afrikaans became more and more important and in 1925 won the status of the second state language. In 1948 the nationalist party came to power and began the campaign for ousting English from all spheres of state activities, culture and education. Very soon fatal consequences of this policy became obvious. The following swing of the pendulum happened in 1976-1990. This time Afrikaans was declared to be the language of oppressors of the English-speaking population.

For black population these were the squabbles of the colonizers. When the first black president Nelson Mandela came to power, he displayed enough wisdom to stop revenges of the native population and prevent the exodus of the white from the country. As to the language policy, nine more languages of black natives were made state languages. Now there are eleven state language in the country and they manage to live. Moreover, the country enriched the lengthy list of countries, to which high-skilled Ukrainian specialist migrate.

The most frequently used argument of those, who forbid the equality of Russian and Ukrainian languages in Ukraine, is that under the Soviet power the Ukrainian language was suppressed and the culture was ’russified’. In order to overcome the consequences of the rusification now especially favorable conditions for the Ukrainian language at the account of the Russian one must be created. Some nationalists openly say about revenge. Here two questions must be analyzed: 1) In which form the rusification existed? 2) Will the ’ukrainization’ bring about the expected result and will it be morally justified?

If one assumes that the Russian language is really that of occupants, one must take into account that these occupants came many generations ago. How can they be revenged? By sending bulldozers to the graveyards? Their offsprings, often born in mixed marriages, speak Russian from babyhood. Must they be punished by making them refuse from their native language?

Now about the cruel rusification. In order to prove its existence, lists of the tortured and murdered outstanding representatives of the Ukrainian people are presented. Yet, such lists of Russians are not shorter. The central point of communist ideology was the class approach to all phenomena of life. Mind you that in the political vocabulary of that time the word ’nationalism’ was always prefixed with the adjective ’bourgeois’.

From time to time the coercive ukrainization of schools in Ukraine was attempted. One of them was carried out by Lazar Kaganovich, a Jew, who was then the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine. Then, in the framework of ’the national construction’, the Ukrainian language was declared the only tool of communication. To be employed as a civil officer one had to pass an examination in the Ukrainian language. Only Ukrainian had to be used in all spheres of administrative, cultural and educational activities. Those who disobeyed were punished and fired from their jobs.

A slightly weaker wave of ukrainization was started by the initiative of notorious Beria. Again in Kharkiv University teachers, who did not know Ukrainian, distorted their Russian in the attempts of sounding Ukrainian.

The third wave is rolling now.

In the Kharkiv oblast archives a noticeable document is preserved - the application of S. N. Bernstein, an outstanding mathematician, one of the creators of the Ukrainian Soviet mathematical school. The application is dated 28 June 1926 and is directed to the rector of Kharkiv University with a request to free him of teaching because of the order to teach all subjects in the Ukrainian language. In particular, Bernstein writes: ’For teaching mathematics it is especially important to use flexible and exact word formulations. The Russian language has been creating the terminology during several centuries. On the contrary, the mathematical terminology in Ukrainian has not been created yet, and the task of making such terminology must be done by specialists with an excellent knowledge of Ukrainian. This is a subtle and long-lasting creative work, which yields caricatures when the work is done in a hurry and not by those, who can do it.’

Ukraine was motherland for many party functionaries of the highest level. The local nomenclature, preparing the Moscow carrier to their children in 50s - 70s sent their offsprings to Russian schools to prevent them inherit the accent of their parents. It was then that a flunkey’s expression ’elder brother’ for the Russian people appeared on the outskirts of the empire. But there is not a single Russian document or work of fiction where Russians would apply this term to themselves.

Once the same happened in history when the Russian language in Russia was the language of commoners, and the elite spoke French.

In the Kharkiv oblast up to the 80s only one Russian-language newspaper was published. All others were published in Ukraine. Only later the Ukrainian language ’Vechirniy Kharkiv’ became bilingual. Announcers of the oblast and republican radio and TV spoke only Ukrainian, and the normal form of an interview consisted of Ukrainian questions and Russian answers. In bookshops the shelves were packed with books of Ukrainian authors and translations to the Ukrainian language. In the black book market a book in Russian cost a fortune, whereas its Ukrainian counterpart was covered with dust in any bookshop. There was a strict limit, below which printing of literature in Ukrainian could not be lowered. Now, when the market determines the proportions, the Ukrainian part has become practically non-existent. The same has happened with newspapers. Even the popular ’Vecherniy Kharkiv’ has again become monolingual, but this time it is published in Russian.

In all towns and especially in the capital a campaign is proceeding to extirpate signboards in Russian. In Kyiv one can hardly find a signboard not in Ukrainian - may be in English. But come to any fence where people fasten their private advertisements: about exchange, selling, buying, etc. Practically all are in Russian.

Objectively, Russian became a language of international communication for the peoples of the former USSR. This was not only communication between Soviet peoples, it was the communication with the world.

We have presented the arguments of A. R. Smirnov, the author of the article. it follows from them, that the existence of two state languages seems reasonable for Ukraine. The author is a physicist, and he believes that true facts and correct argumentation can convince the supporters of the opposite point of view. I may say that this is naпve. The supporters of the nationalist point of view have their own unshakable opinion. In the mentioned Kharkiv ’Prosvita’ a horrible snake is painted on a wall in the hall. The snake put out a forked tongue. ’A bilingua’ is written on the tongue. The members of the ’Prosvita’ (’education’ in Ukrainian) are sure that the troubles of the Ukrainian people will end the very day when every citizen of Ukraine will start to speak Ukrainian. That these expectations are somewhat futile demonstrate some facts quoted in the other article of the reviewed almanac.

This article is written by V. I. Astakhova, the rector and owner of Kharkiv Humanitarian University ’National Ukrainian Academy’ (that very establishment that combined academy and university). In general, her article advertises education in private universities, but there are some data on the attitudes and general outlook of Ukrainian students. In 1998 a poll was held among Kyivan students. The question: ’What does the world ’motherland’ mean for you?’ 870 pollees out of 1000 answered: ’Nothing’. The question: ’Where would you like to live and study?’ was answered: ’Abroad’ by 84% of the pollees.

A misshapen state that emerged on the ruins of the Ukrainian Socialist Republic brought many troubles to the majority of the population. Academic people at the top of their carrier lost much in the living standard and in the dignity of their positions in general. At first they hoped that the situation would soon improve. But years passed, they got older and lost chances to emigrate. Besides, in East Ukraine now they began to suffer from the language policy. That is why the almanac ’Universitates’ that reflects the attitude of the Russian-speaking intelligentsia is especially bitter.

In reprinting these materials, please, refer to KHPG-inform.
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