Monday, November 24, 2008

The Window Dressing. What I didn’t like about 22 November Holodomor Memory Day.

Just for better understanding of my previous posts’ intonations, let me explain why I personally didn’t accept the Holodomor Remembrance Day on 22 November. That day I didn’t visit any of big events on the open air, in museum, opera or church. I didn’t light a candle as was suggested and didn’t put it on a window. It’s not because I don’t respect victims of the Holodomor, or don’t recognise it as a terrible crime. It is because this suddenly established Remembrance Day turned up to become a kind of huge “celebration” with strange and unnatural rituals.

There is no reason to invent artificial dates of memory and sorrow. In every religion there are special days to pray for people who left our world. The Holodomor Day of 22 November is surely an artificial thing, not supported by the Ukrainian society. I don’t know a single person who took the appeals of our officials seriously. All the events around this date – opening of huge and expensive memorials, big TV-screens in all the capitals of regions, translating films and documentaries about the Holodomor, thousands of guests and the all-country mourning with the ban on all not-sad TV programs, etc – reminds me a Soviet-time events, participation in which was obligatory for everyone.

There are a lot of questions. Why this day was scheduled on 22 November? Why not, for example, 23rd or 24th, or 25th? Why not December, or January, or February (when a critical point of hunger was reached)? And, for God’s sake, why this day is called “an Anniversary” in English copies of official documents?

Holodomor of 1932-33 is one of the worst pages of the history of Ukraine. It’s hard to imagine how people, who were ruling Bolshevik’s USSR, came to the very idea to kill peasants by leaving them without food. It’s scaring to think how that innocent victims were trying just to stay alive during almost two years, and to support their families and children. When I was a child, my father’s mother Lydia Pogorila told me how my grand-grandfather took all the family gold and went to the Western Ukraine, where he exchanged it for food. My mother’s mother Polina Orel (she left us 10 years ago) also saved memories about her mother, trying to make a flavour from some herbs and cook a kind of bread for her children. Thanks to God, nobody died in my family from both sides. But people did dye in their neighbourhoods, and it’s a fact. I keep their memories about those sad days, and I will tell these stories to my children.

I am very proud that, after such a terrible times, our grandparents – Ukrainian nation – found a power to go on, to live and love again, and to smile again. They never “celebrated” that horror times by lighting candles and cursing “the enemies”. They just tried to live their lives on the basis of the eternal human values, and were teaching their children to forgive and forget.

We, Ukrainians, have respect for Holodomor victims in our hearts. There is no need to be taught by anyone (is it President or whoever), how exactly we should remember this or that.

Meanwhile, I do know the answer to the question, why the Holodomor Remembrance Day was scheduled on 22 November. We should not forget that the same day previously was called the Liberty Day – to mark the Orange Revolution anniversary. Why the Orange holiday was almost forgotten? The answer is very simple. The inspirers of the Orange Revolution didn’t want to stay again on Maydan (the main square of Kiev) together.

Main leaders of the Orange Revolution preferred to hide behind the shadows of the Holodomor victims, than to come back to Maydan and to look into the eyes of Ukrainians who were standing there four years ago, who believed them blindly and took them to power. Now it’s time to report on the work they were supposed to do since 2004. But they’ve got just nothing to say.

3 comments:

elmer said...

I think you are way off base here.

Holodomor, just like the Holocaust, needs to be commemorated, it needs to be remembered publicly, and the story needs to be told.

For many, many years, people in Ukraine were terrified to mention the Holodomor. Why? Because of a bloody, delusional, repressive sovok system.

The word "anniversary" in English - what's wrong with it? You are being way too touchy about it, since it does not necessarily connote or denote some sort of happy celebration.

People, ESPECIALLY in Ukraine, need to know the history of the Holodomor, they need to have a place to go to look at the films, pictures and books about what happened, and to have the freedom to openly and freely discuss what happened.

As far as some sort of nefarious motive in "planning" the Holodomor so as to avoid accountability for the failure of the Orange Revolution - elections are what will hold these people accountable, and newspaper articles, and "ratings" and public discussion, and other mechanisms of civic, civil political discourse in a democratic society, which Ukrainians are just beginning to learn.

I, for one, am PROUD that Ukraine now has an appropriate monument, an appropriate remebrance of the viciousness of Stalin, the sovok regime, and of all those people who participated in the hideous, brutal atrocious starvation of millions of people in the name of bloody communism.

Вічная память!

joseph said...

Elmer;
Your comment is reasonable, but missses a fine point. Tetyana's comment is echoed in an article in the Kiev Post by Alina Rudya
http://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/op_ed/31301
It is unseemly that the champion of Holodomor remembrance is such a flawed character as the President. There is a more than slight whiff of the oppoutune in his embrace of this project. Often his action seems more for personal aggrandizement than genuine concern. He appears sanctimonious.
And, he has used various aspects to deflect attention from other problems of immediate import (or other remembrance; i.e. the Orange Revolution).
Holodomor is more than just important and it will not be forgotten and it will grow in recognition; at the same time it is not the single most important issue facing Ukraine NOW! While one of the most significant of Stalin's crimes; it is but one of many.
To think that elections or other "civil discourse" will effect things is premature. Ukranian political problems are systemic and will probably require action again in the streets before true change is accomplished. I for one, hope that is not necessary and that some political leader will emerge to affect this change without tumult... we will see.

elmer said...

I understand that accusations have been made that Yushchenko's commemmoration of Holodomor is some sort of nefarious ploy to boost his ratings.

I reject that. His ratings are an astoundingly low 2 or 3%.

People in Ukraine are worried about pensions (in the classic sovok style, and in fact this is a remmant of the sovok system), about communal tariffs (the government, amazingly, still provides hot water and heat on a centralized basis, piped in from a central location - well, except if you're a wealthy oligarch, of course, living in Koncha Zaspa or some other heavily gated community or compound), about the exchange rate for the hryvnia versus the dollar, about losing purchasing power, about jobs, about economic opportunity.

Even Yushchenko, in his bizarre state, has got to realize that his opinion poll ratings are not going to improve due to commemmoration of Holodomor.

The people who are pushing the "nefarious" theory are overwhelmingly - kremlinites. They are the ones "politicizing" the whole thing, because roosha still counts on sovok-era Pavlovian dog reflexes from the population, based on certain key words, in response to which people were supposed to automatically cower and cringe - and today, sometimes still do:

- "nationalist"

- "fascist"

And, of course, according to sovoks, there was no Holodomor.

And roosha was not to blame, Stalin was to blame, so blame Georgia, blah, blah, blah.

Yushchenko deserves credit here, not the imputation of nefarious motives.

But his political standing will not improve - not due to Holodomor.