NOTE: The EuroMaidan revolution and the unprovoked armed Russian attack on Ukraine provides a context to explore cardinal notions of critical relevance to the future of Europe and beyond. Illustrative icons can be viewed as full images which may include opinions of the Editor.
Russians are hard pressed to answer "what is to be a "Russian?" - what is a "Ukrainian"? - what do Russians imply when alluding to "brotherly people"? - why Russians call themselves "Great" Russians? and Ukrainians "little" Russians - what were the reasons for Russians to ban Ukrainian language in Ukraine? - was Russian ever banned in Ukraine? - are there native Crimeans that are Ukrainians? or non-Russians? - in the "Russian" Federation, are there any public media programs in Ukrainian? (there are millions of Ukrainians deported by Stalin that are stranded away) - being born in Ukraine, what are the reasons for Russians to refuse to learn and speak Ukrainian as did, among millions of others, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mr. M. Lazarov? Could there be a President of the "Russian" Federation who does not or refuses to speak in Russian? Some of these dilemmas are illuminated by statements by two prominent Russian residents in London. (source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/06/among-the-russians-in-london )
The article in "The Guardian" underscores that "the idea of rodina Ā homeland Ā is central to being Russian. (see links to roots on the upper-left) That"s not easy to square for expats. The first Russian offering her views is Anatasia Webster, a long term London resident who says " When people ask me, - "Do you think in Russian or English?" I know the answer is most probably English, but I do absolutely feel Russian." - I don"t have a problem with Crimea going back to Russia - People who live there don"t want to be a part of Ukraine ... this is a very specific territory and it"s a specifically Russian territory. Putin has managed to make Russians feel that they are going back to becoming a world power. Since Russia fell apart [in the early 1990s], no-one cared about them any more. There is this issue of Russian pride."
It merits attention to note that for Russians "rodina" (homelands) include what is also presented as the "greater near abroad" such as Findland, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, among other "rodina lands". Crimea "did not go back", it was taken by force. Mention that Crimea is specifically Russian territory is false, it is specifically Tatar territory. Stalin depopulated Crimea by mass killing and deportation of Tatars and replacing them with Russian colonists. The allusion that "Russia" fell apart refers to the USSR which in the eyes of Russians was "Russia" as today is the current "Russian" Federation perpetuates. Such attitude implies that "minorities" are "lesser". A similar events are taking place in Tibet where the Chinese elite is settling millions of Han Chinese to overwhelm the local Tibetan culture. Finally, resorting to "Russian Pride" as a reason not to reject Mr. V. Putin"s authoritative regime and brutality in Crimea shows acceptance of a "master mentality" particularly evident among Russian chauvinists but permeating 70% of the Russians who endorse the imperialistic policies of Mr. V. Putin.
The second Russian long term London resident interviewed is the well known "writer and broadcaster Vitali Vitaliev ... born in Kharkov in eastern Ukraine, went to a Russian-speaking school but also learnt to speak Ukrainian ("although it was optional") ...- I never felt Russian or Ukrainian- he says = "When people ask me what I feelĀ I feel European - I have never been to Russia - I have only ever been to the Soviet Union - it is part of the current conflict: this is about resolving the identity gap left when you don"t have to be Soviet any more - When I was at university, all subjects were in Russian, except for Ukrainian literature and language. We had a couple of guys ... talking in Ukrainian amongst themselves, which was very unusual. They were expelled for "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism." I"m still not sure what was bourgeois about speaking their own language in their own country. It was complete idiocy."
The city of Kharkiv (in Ukrainian) or, Kharkov (in Russian) was never considered to be "Russia" - nonetheless, currently, Russians in Kharkiv (a minority) clamor for "independence" which as in Crimea, they would promptly surrender to Russia. Are Ukrainians to view such Russians as Ukrainian citizens or as foreign agents?