As promised, I have this piece for you, which is an op-ed by a reporter named Tatiana Herashchenko (Russian spelling: Gerashchenko), who lives in Odessa, Ukraine. Tanya wrote about her experiences this past Victory Day (May 9) which she celebrated with her friends in the streets of Odessa, as they attempted to honor the dead.
Victory Day was always a big deal in (what is loosely described as) The Russian World, but has become an even bigger deal in recent years. Partly because the entire narrative of the Soviet Victory has come under ideological attack from the Western world. With memories of the war fading over the decades, Russians started to feel somewhat complacent, they never forgot about the enormous losses and sacrifices which they and the rest of the Soviet people endured during the war; nevertheless, it was a long time ago, a lot of things had happened, and they might start to treat Victory Day with no more special feelings than Americans treat Memorial Day or Veterans Day. In other words, it’s a holiday from work – yay! – and there might be some parades and other fun stuff to do and see.
And then things changed. In recent years, the shape of things out there in the larger world, started to become clearer. Namely, that the Western world never did accept Soviet victory in the war; sought to undermine it and ruin it however they could. The tipping point was when the Western world (the United States and Europe) engineered the coup in Ukraine in 2014. This coup removed the elected government and placed into the new government ideological descendants of the very same Ukrainian nationalists and Banderites who had fought on the other side of the war. Namely, alongside the German Nazi soldiers.
Partly as a reaction to this, the Russian world spontaneously came up with the “Immortal Regiment” concept, whereby Russians all around the world celebrate their ancestors and family members who fought in the war. Fought on the correct side. Fought against the proponents of racial Eugenics and genocide. And even more to the point: Fought on the winning side.
This phenomenon, which was partly Celebration and partly Resistance, caused mental pain to Westies. Westies always get a headache when they see Russians enjoying too much self-esteem. Westies accuse the Russian government of artificially engineering this Immortal Regiment thing. Which is not true. It actually was a spontaneous movement initiated from below, by ordinary people. After it became popular, the Russian government jumped onboard, that’s true. But more in the capacity of the fabled General who saw his troops marching away without him, and had to rush to put himself in the lead. One needs to recall that the current Russian government, under Putin, is in a tricky position itself. It, itself, ultimately, is the inheritor and beneficiary of an anti-Communist coup which was partly engineered by Western governments. That was back in the 1990’s. Please ponder on that thought while I introduce our lead character, Tatiana Herashchenko. What the heck, I’ll just turn the mic over to her. The rest of this piece is just my translation into perfect English without further commentary on my part, with the exception of a few embedded footnotes.
Tanya And Her Friends
On May 9, me and the girls agreed to meet at exactly 10:00 o’clock and go to the “Alley Of Glory” together. I had already come up with a route. I knew where to buy flowers. I had set my alarm clock.
Paranoia engulfed me. I knew that Marinka, at the first sight of the new Politsai [yalensis: from German Polizei, the word used for Ukrainian police-collaborators during the Nazi occupation], would inevitably shoot her mouth off, saying something like, “Lads, whoever hired such deformed crips as yourselves?” And then I wouldn’t be able to help laughing my guts out. But Galka had told us that the first person we would meet up with was the mother of a young man who had been beaten and burned to death in the Trade Union building [yalensis: On May 2, 2014, the clashes between pro- and anti-Nationalists in Odessa]. And so I thought to myself: I better not laugh and behave badly in front of her…
First thing in the morning, Galka phones me and tells me that the police are searching Marinka’s house. So, instead of meeting at the “Alley of Glory” (as we had planned), we spend an hour or so gabbing on the phone and reassuring each other: Galka is very jumpy, starts at every sound, she keeps thinking they have come to get her, well she has a reason to be paraoid: She had witnessed her own grown-up son escape, by a miracle, from the roof of the burning Trade Union building. In her mind she had already buried him. She lived through this horror. In my own case, my own little one is still little, although of course I understand that I have been added to the list a long time ago. And we all understand that we are destined for a world of pain. I say into the phone something like: “Get out of the house!” Galka: “I am very fearful for Marinka.” On May 2, 2014 Marinka was seriously injured out on the Kulikovo Field [yalensis: Where one of the clashes took place]. Last winter she had a stroke.
Suddenly Marinka calls us, and tells us that the cops just finished drinking up all her kompot [yalensis: liquid fruit salad] which they found in her fridge. Then they left. Her house has been turned upside down. They even ripped the drawers out of the dresser. “I’m calling a taxi and heading out to the Alley” Well, that’s our Marina for you!
“What were they looking for?” I ask her.
Marinka: “Don’t you remember, they charged me with organizing the disorders of May 2, three years ago.” They was when they had tried to kill her! At the time she had showed me the court order, but in the heat of the moment we couldn’t be bothered to try to read this nonsense.
And so I head out….
[to be continued]