Today concluding this piece about the trials and tribulations of 12-year-old Maxim Tkachuk. Who ticked off the Ukrainian Nazis by winning a childrens song contest in England, while belting out Smuglyanka and dressed in a stylized Red Army uniform!
Reporter Nikolai Storozhenko: The reaction of the Ukrainian Nationalists is well understood. Their position is that Ukraine should be ideologically united, under their beloved concept of the ReichsKomissariat. And when an individual like Maxim shows up in London and sings to Englishmen of a different Ukraine, well, it’s like a dagger to their heart. And this is why they are persecuting this boy, not for singing in Russian and not even for the costume; but for the fact that he had the gall to show the world a normal, non-Banderite Ukraine. A Ukraine without the Galician SS Division. Remember that the song contest was a thematic one: A celebration of the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe. The Banderites don’t have much in the way of their own songs for that, since their side lost, quite rightly so.
We learned that news of Maxim’s victory was greeted by a wave of revolting social media posted by Ukrainian Nationalists of the Nazi Svoboda Party. In counter-reaction, healthier-minded people rushed to Maxim’s support. Some have even complained to Facebook and demanded that they enforce their no-bullying policy. Shortly we will see and break down an analysis by Ukrainian blogger, Anatoly Shariy, who lays it all out.
Meanwhile, according to Maxim’s grandmother, Larisa Tkachuk, the boy did not at all shy away from the storm he had created. He makes it a point to read every comment posted about him, both postive and negative. [That takes a lot of guts!] As a sensitive pre-teen, the vicious comments (the ones calling him a “traitor”, or just the filthy obscene ones) bother him, and hurt his feelings. But he still forces himself to read them. He is not hiding away from anything. And with a young boy’s logic, he aptly dismisses the “phony patriots” and their followers. And he continues to follow his dream of pursuing a singing career, hopefully on the European circuit. He is already learning Italian, so he has a good start!
Shariy’s Blogpost: The Young “Vata” and the Svoboda Party
Most people following the Russia beat know of the video-blogger Anatoly Shariy. He is a Ukrainian, and even a Ukrainian Patriot, in his own way, although not a Nationalist. He just couldn’t stomach all the Banderite B.S., and became a noted critic of the Poroshenko regime. His main weapons are sarcasm and irony. When his life was threatened by the Ukrainan Nazis, Shariy was forced to flee to some undisclosed location in Europe, probably in one of the Baltic states, where he continues to comment on every crazy thing going on in the Ukraine. Even when one doesn’t necessarily agree with everything that Shariy says, he is always worth listening to. And this is his take on the Maxim Tkachuk scandal:
A word about the title, for those not in the know: the Russian word “vata” means “flannel” or “felt”, or some such fabric that was used to wrap feet, or make boots. For Ukrainian Nationalists, this became a derogatory term for all ethnic Russians; or for those who are too Russia-friendly. Russians fired back by adopting the word as their own and celebrating it.
Anyhow, here is my breakdown of Shariy’s blogpost, for those who don’t understand Russian (Shariy blogs in Russian, with occasional resort to some Ukrainian patois). I apologize in advance that my translation is not that great, so much of the narrative is in Ukrainian or Ukrainian patois, and my comprehension level is not so high when it comes to Ukrainian. If there are any Ukrainian speakers out there who could chime in and correct my errors…
Also, from what I can understand, the clips that Shariy shows, from a news anchor and a local (female) reporter in Volhynia, are slanted in a mostly positive way to the boy and his family. That’s a pleasant surprise, for starters. Shariy adds his own ironic asides and commentary to their reporting.
0:40 seconds in
After some introductory thoughts, Shariy initiates the topic (“speaking of devils”) of the plight of young Maxim. This 12-year-old boy from a Western Oblast, from Volhynia, won a song competition in Great Britain.
Clip of Ukrainian news broadcast (in Ukrainian) about this story.
1:00 minute in
Shariy: This boy is now being attacked and persecuted by Deputies from the Svoboda Party — you know what Svoboda is, right? They are actual devils, with actual horns on their heads. Seriously, these people are devils. And they believe they should be running the country. Nobody votes for them, but they make these great displays for the public. Like writing graffiti on store windows. Or they launch these propaganda campaigns.
2:06 minutes in
Back to the news clip. News guy saying something (in Ukrainian) about Maxim travelling to London on a tour and winning out over 23 other contestants.
Shariy: Well, they should be proud of him, right? This is London! So many nations represented. And our kid won!
[news clip guy]: The performance has been condemned and criticized due to the fact that the boy took part in a competition dedicated to the 75th Anniversary of the Victory in WWII.
2:42 minutes in
Shariy: Oh! Oho! The 75th Anniversary of the Victory! Well, that wasn’t a victory for us, was it? Oh no, no…
[news clip guy]: And the lad performed the thematic song Smuglyanka. And appeared in the military uniform of a Soviet soldier.
3:00 minutes in
Shariy: He sang Smuglyanka! Well, now I start to understand why the Svoboda Deputy was so upset..
[news clip guy]: [something about political hysterics going to the absurd and the use of obscene language against a child…]
Shariy: Political hysterics, and Russian obscenities. It is interesting that when they curse out this boy, they are using exclusively Russian obscenities. Do you know an interesting fact? There is no such thing as a Ukrainian obscenity! All the swear words are in Russian. So they are swearing in Russian, and but you know, when you swear in Russian against, how shall we call him, some Kremlin agent, well, then it’s a normal thing.
[news clip guy]: They are using inappropriate language against Maxim, a child who lives without his dad or mom, but with his grandmother and his aunt.
Shariy: No papa? No mama? What difference does it make, according to Banderite logic, if he were a member of the Banderite camp, his papa would be Bandera, and his mama Shukhevych.
4:00 minutes in – now we get to see Maxim at home with his grandma and aunt.
[Female narrator voice, this part is in Ukrainian, so I can only pick out a few words here and there]: His grandmother and aunt see to it that the boy has everything that he needs, they work diligently and spend any amount of money that is needed, to support him on his tours and to help him develop his vocal talent. They have even consulted with specialists.
Shariy: It takes effort to work so untiringly as a promoter, but it doesn’t take much effort to hound and persecute someone. Why aren’t these brave men encouraging this local talent?
[female narrator]: The specialists told them [the family] that the boy has no musical ear or voice.
Shariy: Ah, in London they didn’t realize that the boy has no ear or voice. If they had listened to these specialists, then they would have realized.
4:43 minutes in
[female narrator]: Maxim’s grandmother shows off his awards which he won over the years at prestigious Ukrainian song contests. She is determined with all her power to help him develop his talent so that he can be successful in the circuit.
Shariy: So, if we look at this entourage and all the rest, you know, this is normal. It happens in Europe as well. You know, the parents of these young (competitive) stars, this is how they live. [yalensis: Shariy is correct about that. The families of any talented competitive child — be it beauty pageants or dance contests, or figure-skating or motor-cross, or what not, their life becomes a series of tours and lots of travelling, and they spend lots of money, that’s just how it is for these families. What do they get in return? The hope that their child can break out and become a winner.]
[female narrator]: News of the contest enraged a lot of commenters who accused Maxim of propagandizing the “Russian world” [screenshots of Facebook comments expressing vile attacks against Maxim] because he sang “Smuglyanka“.
5:00 minutes in
Shariy: He propagandizes the “Russian world” because he sang a song about a Moldavian girl!
[female narrator continues, with more screenshots of vile Facebook attacks]:
Into the fray stepped Oleksandr Pirozhik, a Deputy in the local Volhynia Rada, representing the Svoboda Party, who attacked Maxim, accusing him of propagandizing the Russian World.
[image of Pirozhik in his patriotic, embroidered blouse, the vyshivanka]
Shariy [in Ukrainian patois]: Oi, see what kind of people we have here! Wearing a vyshivanka, must be a super patriot! Pirozhik… [switching to Russian:] Pirozhok! [Russian for meat pie]
5:45 minutes in:
Maxim is seen wearing another costume and carrying his suitcase, off for another competition.
[female narrator]: Maxim, along with his family, was cursed out in obscene language by grown-ups.
[more screenshots of vile Facebook comments, from Svoboda supporters, accusing Max of being a traitor to his country and various other epithets]
Shariy: Well, there you have Svoboda in a nutshell. They go after the most helpless members of society. Here they are bullying a young boy. After seeing this, I no longer doubt those stories about [the Banderites] murdering children during the war!
[screenshot of somebody writing: “This Moscovite puke should be taught a lesson…”]
Shariy: Degenerates…. Look at those faces, hear those words! Svoboda! What kind of utterless bottomless degenerate does one have to be to want to see these guys in power? Without political power these thugs are nothing. They should be digging ditches.
6:46 minutes in:
[screenshot of Shariy’s Facebook comment, written in Ukrainian, ripping a new one for Pirozhik and expressing respect for the female Volyn journalist who exposed this story]
These guys are animals. Well, what else can you call them? The Russian World, propagandized by a young boy who sings a song. For these guys, 75th Anniversary… they don’t celebrate that! For them the Victory was a Tragedy. Because their ancestors had to hide like animals… But for the rest of the world, this was not a tragedy; on the contrary, it was a celebration.
6:46 minutes in:
[back to Maxim in his home, along with his aunt; Maxim is thumbing through his iPhone reading all the nasty comments about himself]
[female narrator]: Maxim reads all the comments.
Maxim: “If I see a nasty comment, I click on NOT LIKE… [thumbs down].” [laughs]
Shariy: What’s not to like? Russian World. Putin. Kremlin. People have grown accustomed to all of this, under the Poroshenko regime. The Russian World, a song about a Moldavian…
7:55 minutes in:
[Maxim again]: Because I sang a song about the 75th anniversary of the victory, they have been saying every nasty thing about me. These are very inadequate people, I don’t like what they are saying about me. But you know, these people [rolls his eyes] these super-patriots!
8:15 minutes in:
Shariy: They consider themselves to be patriots. They put on embroidered shirts, as big and fluffy as possible, and a big Cossack hat, and this makes them super-patriots!
Maxim [laughing]: They wear vyshivankas, they were born in vyshivankas!
Female Reporter: [sorry, I don’t understand what she asks him, it might be something like “Are you poking at them?”]
Maxim: [I think he says: “I’m still young.”]
Shariy: Oh! See how the attack starts, you need to define yourself. A vyshivanka is a beautiful blouse. Even I used to wear one when I was a kid. And Nadia Savchenko once gave me one as a gift. But seriously, this is not an indicator of patriotism.
8:45 minutes in:
[Grandma Larisa Tkachuk says something I also don’t understand, but sounds like: “Somebody thinks that by wearing a vyshivanka they have the right to attack a child.”]
Shariy: Which, by the way, there is an interesting history surrounding this song. The Soviet AgitProp, at the time, didn’t like this song, they said it wasn’t proper. But then, later, after the movie came out it became very popular. And now it comes to pass that these vyshivanka-wearers have returned to the same opinion as the earlier Soviet AgitProp. [Chuckles.]
9:15 minutes in:
[female narrator continues while the camera pans to show Maxim’s trophy awards and all the contests he has won prizes in. Not sure what she is saying, but sounds something like: “Even his detractors have to admit that he has been successful on the competitive circuit.”]
Shariy: Former Soviet ideologists became Ukrainian ideologists. They are driving all the talented people out of the country. They are trying to drive out the cream of the crop, leaving only the stupid cattle behind. Those slack-jawed idiots who go around wearing vyshivankas. All this mob knows how to do is beat people up and even kill people who don’t agree with them.
People! We need to do everything we can to ensure that this mob becomes smaller and smaller. And once they are down to size, then expel them – bye bye!
Shariy’s youtube vid is followed with comments from people wishing the boy well, and praising his relatives for raising such a good boy.
Some commenters are almost frantic, asking Shariy how they can help; if they can send money to help the child with his career; also pleading with Shariy to somehow let this boy know that he has friends out there in the world; that not everyone is against him.
A representative comment from Ekaterina Tarasenko: May God grant health to this boy and his family. I wish the boy much success. It is very good to hear such wise words coming from the mouth of a 12-year-old boy. Good lad!