For today’s post, I am translating in full this statement made by the leader of the Donetsk Peoples Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko. Zakharchenko is responding to a move made by the Ukrainian government, in removing the Russian language from official Ukrainian passports. In the past, the Ukrainian passport was issued in Ukrainian/Russian, the two major languages spoken in the Ukraine.
The new Ukrainian passport is issued in Ukrainian and English.
I do however wish to comment on the attitude of ethnic Russians living in the Ukraine, and also Ukrainians themselves towards this decree, and this type of politics.
Let us recall, why Donbass rose up a year ago? The main cause of the protests was the (attempted) banning of the Russian language. They told us at the time: Sorry! The Supreme Rada got over-excited, but the President never signed this law, he placed his veto on it. So what happened now? The President himself got over-excited? And the Rada is not going to veto this. So what happens next? When the Roman Catholic Pope arrives in Kiev, is the President of the Ukraine going to issue an order that henceforth all Ukrainians should convert to Roman Catholicism? Or, in worse case, becomes Uniates? And if somebody else comes visiting, then will the inhabitants of the Ukraine have to learn English instead of Ukrainian? Are they supposed to forget their own language?
Hence, I would like to appeal to the people who live in the Ukraine: to ethnic Russians, Ukrainians – it doesn’t matter who you are:
Dear Friends: In return for some miserly and tiny additions to your pensions and salaries, which are not enough to pay your utility bills, are you prepared to forget your native language, your history, your country? Are you going to betray those ideals with which your ancestors lived and died, those ideals with which they defeated the fascists? Let us remember our whole history. Turks, Tatars… This land, this long-suffering land, at the root of which ALWAYS was the Russian language. The language in which you still speak, to this day.
Would you endure it, if they told you that you are the descendants of the ancient Chinese or the ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids? and would you allow your children to be taught that in school? I am not even going to mention the “Great Ukry” who excavated the Black Sea. It’s already not funny any more. I only want to know, just how much patience do you have, to remain silent and endure this humiliation? Or do you just agree, that you are mindless cattle, farmed out to those people who force their ideology on you? And their version of history, which has NOTHING to do with reality.
I believe that to a great extent, this is a question for the people, and not a decision to be made by the government. The people must answer themselves, according to their conscience.
The notion of conscience, justice and equality has always been identical among our peoples. It is not shared by the current rulers in Kiev. WE understand the concepts of justice and equality in terms of justice and equality for ALL, equality of opportunities. And equality before the law. Liberty, as liberty for all and each, not at the expense of other peoples and other people, who also have the right to be free. And yet the people here are silent. A country which has been so humiliated and ground down….
Next I would turn to the Ukrainian government. Believe me when I say: The people are patient and enduring, and yet the people’s wrath is a terrible thing. You are, all of you, political suicides. You have chosen your own path.
For us, the path is to build a nation, to be free, just, and live as equals. And to live by our own conscience.
23 November, 2015, Donetsk