Ukraine War Day #95: A Cinderella Story Including Zaporozhie

Dear Readers:

Before we start, please check out this image of a “joke” menu from a pro-Nazi restaurant in Lvov. This was from a few years back, when Obama was still U.S. Prez, so I don’t know if the restaurant is there, or still advertises such fare. This is really ugly stuff. The “menu” includes such items as fried burgers from those who perished in the Odessa Train Union fire, “black burger” Obamka, liver of a Separatist militiaman, etc. It’s so funny, haha. This is the sort of sheer hatred, thinly disguised as sick humor, with which a half generation of Ukrainians was raised to dehumanize their fellow citizens. (Also includes racial hatred of Obama, a hateful person to be sure, but these guys hating him for the wrong reasons, if you get my drift. One needs to keep in mind that white supremacism is a core component of the Ukrainian Banderite ideology.)

Such contempt for, and dehumanization of, other people, is an integral part of the Nazi playbook. Which is one the reasons why the people of Donetsk and Luhansk fought so hard and made so many sacrifices, to get the hell out of the Ukraine: They didn’t want to be any part of this ugly “Galician” cancer, which spread Eastwards and infected many regions, including even Kiev, the Mother of all Russian Cities.

Cinderella Turns The Table

My older readers (I mean, those who knew me before the war, not those who are physically older, necessarily) know that I love stories and storytelling. I am a literary writer manqué. Growing up in a troubled family, still traumatized by past generations of Stalin repressions and war; parents who were inadequate in certain ways and who stubbornly withheld important family secrets from their children; growing up in this situation, I did a lot of fantasizing and daydreaming as a child, immersed in books and literature, classical music and opera, movies, and suchlike. Many of those stories and characters seemed, and still seem, more real to me than real people and events in the real world. For this reason, even to this day I sometimes like to frame real events as if they were just stories told by the campfire. It also helps me to deal with the extreme levels of violence that we are observing. The downside to this approach is that I have to sometimes jimmy the narrative to fit — like that Greek anti-hero Procrustes with his bed!

A scene from Rossini’s opera La Cenerentola

After this war started, it occurred to me that the Donbass people (DPR/LPR) can be viewed as a kind of Cinderella character. They were the ones who were despised and treated badly, the ethnic Ukrainians lorded it over them, called them “beetles”, “cockroaches”, “orcs”, “vata”, “subhumans”, and worse. They were bombed and shelled for 8 solid years. Nazi battalions kidnapped, murdered, raped, and tortured them. Western Mercenary troops organized vacation “safaris” to hunt and kill them; or to shell them. Ukrainian President Poroshenko literally taunted them: “Our [Ukrainian] children will be going to school, while your children will be huddling in bomb shelters.” Nobody in the “civilized” West cared about these people, how many were hurt or died. These people felt abandoned by everybody, including Russia. But they persisted, and they fought on, summoning an inner strength that nobody can understand. Eventually Carnival Time arrived, the reversal of fortune, the turning of the tables. Now the Donbass militias are sweeping one town after another and liberating all the Ukrainian people, not just their own kind. These former sad sacks are now the masters of their own destiny. In Cinderella terms, the Donbass finally hooked up with her Prince Charming (Putin?! Egads!) And the slipper fit.

In this literary metaphor, the Wicked Stepmother is obviously Ukrainian Nationalists and their despicable fascist government.

Which begs the question: Who are the ugly stepsisters?

What if I were to say, Kherson and Zaporozhie? Please don’t pelt me with tomatoes, I don’t really mean it that way. For starters, both of these provinces are beautiful, not ugly; and they are filled with beautiful and hard-working people. So, in my version of the fairy tale, the so-called “ugly stepsisters” are not villains at all, they are just a little bit behind the gate. And maybe they are a little bit jealous that their younger sister is getting all the attention; and they want the gallant Prince to notice them too, and give them promotions within the Court. Yeah, that’s the metaphor I am going with. And the rest of this post focuses on the Zaporozhie Oblast.

We Want To Be A Full Subject Of The Russian Federation

Let’s start with this piece by reporter Anton Antonov. His main source is a man named Vladimir Rogov, who works within the Military-Civilian Soviet that currently governs that part of Zaporozhie which is under Russian control. Rogov insists that Zaporozhie must eventually be included as a full subject (=Republic) of the Russian Federation, not having to go through any of that silly “Peoples Republic” intermediate stage. (The folks in Kherson are saying the same thing. Also keep in mind that the majority mentality in Kherson and Zaporozhie are very different from that of Donetsk/Luhansk. The latter being exemplars of “homo Sovieticus” whereas the former are conservative-minded farmers who pine for Imperial Russia.)

We demand our rights as full subjects of the court!

Rogov: “The Zaporozhie Oblast has one and only one future: It must be incorporated into Russia, it must become a full and whole subject of the Russian Federation. We have no need for grey zones, we don’t need a Zaporozhian Peoples Republic. We want to be a part of Russia just like we were before and have been for hundreds of years. We were always a leading component of the Russian Empire. The population of this Oblast are completely Russian in their mentality. […] More and more people are actively calling for integration into Russia.” Currently the Oblast is 2/3 controlled by Russia, but the Ukraine still controls a chunk, including the capital city, which is also called Zaporozhie. Rogov again: “The Ukrainian Nationalists understand that they will not be able to hold Zaporozhie, therefore they are already removing their money and property and evacuating their families.” The ruble has already been introduced as currency in that part of the Oblast controlled by Russia. Rogov envisions the entire Oblast eventually incorporated into Russia, where it will comprise a “worthy component” of the Federal Southern Okrug.

Rifles Versus Muskets

In this related piece, reporter Dmitry Zubarev recounts how the Zaporozhie Oblast has reverted its coat of arms to the one from Russian Imperial times (circa 1811). The Ukrainian Nationalists, when in charge, had subtly altered the herald by replacing Russian rifles with more European looking muskets. Now the rifles are back.

The Ukrainian version replaced rifles with muskets.
The old coat of arms is now the new coat of arms.

The new pro-Russian administration, as part of their symbology reforms, are also busy “fixing” the Ukrainian license plates on peoples cars, asking them to add a sticker with the new herald, and which also covers up the initials “UA” (Ukraine) with the initials “TVR” (Tauride Gubernia). Recall that “Taurida” was the name of the Imperial Russian Governate which spanned from Crimea in the South to the lower Dniepr in the North. This land was wrested away from the Ottoman Empire (Catherine the Great), and given its Greek name Taurida (Russian Tavrida) named after an ancient ethnic group called Tauri.

The Zaporozhian coat of arms is divided into two sections: the upper depicting two rifles with bayonets of the kind used in the Russian army at the time. The bottom half depicts a black bow with 3 arrows pointing down. [It looks like a Cossack moustache to me!]

Unfortunately, not everything is rosy in this fairy tale. A third of Zaporozhie, including its capital city, is still under the control of Ukrainian Nationalists, the infamous “Territorial Battalions”. And they are making life difficult and unpleasant for those Zaporozhian Ukrainians who want to unite with Russia; or who simply want to get on with their lives.

[to be continued]

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11 Responses to Ukraine War Day #95: A Cinderella Story Including Zaporozhie

  1. Cortes says:

    The lower half of the coat of arms looks like the Spanish Falange yugo y flechas (yoke and arrows) logo:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoke_and_arrows#/media/File%3AYoke_and_Arrows.svg

    An interesting Hollywood treatment of the Cinderella story is the Drew Barrymore film “Ever After”; I took my daughter to see it and she fell asleep about ten minutes into the film (she was about 7) – I enjoyed it.

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    • yalensis says:

      The heraldry looks similar, except that in the Spanish version the arrows are pointing up, whereas in the Zaporozhie version they are pointing down. There must be some semantic meaning to this symbology, but I am not sure what. Paging Professor Robert Langdon!

      Re. Cinderella: there are many different versions of this story in European cultures. In one gory version, the stepsisters actually cut off their own toes, trying to get the slipper to fit their big feet! In Rossini’s version, there is no fairy godmother, instead there is a wise counselor to the Prince, his tutor Alidoro. In typical commedia dell’arte fashion, Alidoro connives to make everything turn out right in the end.

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  2. Liborio Guaso says:

    Divide and conquer has been the watchword for centuries. and hatred is the ideal instrument, racial hatred or religious hatred, whatever works and you only have to review the last two thousand years.

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  3. Ben says:

    “The Ukrainian Nationalists, when in charge, had subtly altered the herald by replacing Russian rifles with more European looking muskets.”

    So, hilariously, they ‘improved’ the symbolism by downgrading the weaponry. Muskets are much worse than a rifled barrel.

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  4. Eric says:

    Great blogging once again Yalensis! Sorry to go in a completely different direction, but the following thing which I am sure has a simple explanation, is irritating me, and I figured that guys like you or Moscow Exile could help out::

    Why is Wladimir Klitshchko called Wladimir Klitshchko , Yalensis? Why not Volodymyr or Vladimir..and why is his surname not simply Klichko following that his name is spelt as “Кличко”? He’s a “Ukrainian” hero, and the svidomy mafia who get angry over rather mundane things would surely not be happly about the W in his name.

    I never truly understood this Mykola/Nikolai thing either. It seems hard to understand its a regional variation like Paul/Pablo/Pavel . Would Gogol have actually heard anybody calling him “Mykola” during his lifetime? Gogol seems the Svidomy mafia in Ukraine or in Canada referencing him as Nikolai or Mykola “Hohol” is one thing that I haven’t noticed. During his election, most of the western media called him Vladimir Zelensky, then switched to Volodymyr shortly afterwards

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    • Eric says:

      Sorry for the horrible mistyping on the main word there – it’s Klitschko, of course.Apologies for the rambling, possibly incoherent nature of the above post too!

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      • yalensis says:

        Hey, Eric, no worries, thanks for great comment and these are interesting questions as well. To address your themes:
        (1) Both Russian and Ukrainian languages (yes, they are separate languages, albeit very closely related within the Eastern Slavic branch of the Slavic language family) use the Cyrillic alphabet, not the Latin alphabet.
        (2) In order to spell Russian or Ukrainian words in the Latin alphabet, one must engage in the process of transliteration which is basically the swapping of letters from one alphabet to the other.
        (3) Scientific linguists, as you can imagine, have their own reasonably scientific and rigid method of doing this, but require extra symbols (such as superscripts) which are not necessarily on the QWERTY keyboard. For example, the Russian letter ч would be transliterated as č, then Tchaikovsky’s name would be spelled as čajkovskij for example. Which lay readers might have problems with and wouldn’t be able to type without a special keyboard; also, for example, in the scientific transliteration the Russian phoneme /ts/ which is spelled with the letter ц scientific linguists transliterate with the Latin letter c, so the word for “bird” would be transliterated as ptica but most people would pronounce it wrong if reading it that way.
        (4) For this reason, non-scientific transliterations are traditionally used, with people trying to give the best spelling they think will help people of another language pronounce the words as close as possible. Tchaikovsky himself is a very good example, this traditional spelling was originally the German mode, trying to capture as closely as possible that initial /ch/ sound.
        (5) This is a long way of saying that some spellings are just traditional, trying to give laypersons not trained in linguistics (who don’t necessarily know the international phonetic alphabet) a flavor of the way words are actually pronounced in the foreign tongue. And there is a lot of variety, and it’s not very systematic.
        (6) Now, as to this Ukrainian spelling, Ukrainian is its own language, with its own flavor of the Cyrillic alphabet, so some of the transliterations are just trying to be accurate. But politics reared its ugly head, when Ukrainian spellings just became a form of virtue signaling. Like replacing the traditional G with the H (Gogol becomes Hohol, etc.) I sort of do this myself, when I traditionally spell Lugansk as Luhansk, but I obviously don’t do it for virtue-signaling purposes, I just like the latter spelling better because people in that region, both Russians and Ukrainians, all pronounce the letter G as a breathy H. It’s just the regional dialect.
        (7) Klitschko – I believe that would be the German spelling, attempting to render the /ch/ sound, similar to their spelling of the name Tchaikovsky.
        (8) Vladimir vs Volodimir – the latter form is technically more correct (historically) for Eastern Slavic languages, including Russian. Now, this goes back to a basic rule of Slavic Historical Linguistics, when some sound changes occurred, linguistics call it the TORT/TERT rules, you can google that to get more details. Basically, a core word like the German *gard (city or fortress) becomes /gorod/ in the East Slavic dialects, and /grad/ in the South Slavic dialects. The name *Voldo-mir (borrowed into German neighboring tribes as Valdemar) became Volodimir in East Slavic, and Vladimir in South Slavic. You see what happens? A consonant and a vowel change place in South Slavic, whereas East Slavic adds an extra syllable. The scientific linguists call this Liquid Metathesis and Pleophony.
        (9) So, I just said that the East Slavic form is Volodimir. Russian is an East Slavic language, but the Russians say “Vladimir” instead, which is the South Slavic form. (South Slavic languages include Bulgarian and Macedonian.) Why do Russians pronounce this name in the Bulgarian manner? The answer is simple: The first Slavic Bible, translated by the South Slavic missionaries (and world-class linguists) Cyrill and Methodius, was written in a South Slavic dialect. So, South Slavic variations of words were considered “higher” and more noble than the baser East Slavic varieties. Same reason why King James or Shakespearean English is considered a “higher” form of English than modern dialects. Which is the reason why you see many pairs of words in Russian, such as -gorod (city) vs -grad (aka Volgo-grad) where the latter form is the “Biblical” or higher version. Many other such examples of such pairs, for example “golos” (voice) vs “glas”, etc. with the latter form being higher or more noble.
        (10) Finally, that last question about Nikolai vs Mykolai, that initial Greek N which Ukrainians turned into an M. I honestly have to scratch my head, because I don’t know the answer to that, or how it came to be. There is no logical reason, since the Ukrainian alphabet does in fact have the letter N. I am sure there is some historical reason there, I just don’t know what it is. Maybe Moscow Exile does. In any case, I am pretty sure that Gogol’s friends called him “Nikolai” and not Mykolai. They may have pronounced his last name as Hohol, but I’m sure they spelled it as Gogol, in traditional Russian style.

        In conclusion: I personally try to draw a distinction between strict scientific linguistics, geo-politics, and simple virtue-signaling. None of these things should be mixed up, but alas they are, and the Ukrainian Nationalists are masters of this dishonest game!

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        • Eric says:

          Cheers for the highly informative reply. Much appreciated.

          It’s funny though how they show no offence or urge to replace the germanic-friendly “Wladimir”, but Usyk always gets called “Olexander” Usyk – even though he always makes clear he is Alexander.

          I think that modern Ukrainian insists on using the word “map” instead of the French-derived “karta”, which Russian’s do. Ukraine preferences the French-influenced word “kravatka” over the germanic “galstyk” which Russian’s prefer ( I know this thanks to a certain Mr Saakashvili!) . Ukrainian used the germanic “zuker” where Russian uses “sakhar” for sugar.

          Now, I can imagine a situation from the 1600s and onwards, where enlightened Frenchmen visiting Russian elites in Russia, bringing mapping techniques that are advanced for the time – leading to Russian elites adopting the French word for map, and subsequently that word permeating through all layers of Russian society pyramid – more so with Russia as the 18th century was one where many Russians of poor background became high ranking military officers.

          With the so-called Ukrainian language I can see Old Russian language, plus many words arbitrarily designated by their “elite” solely for the purpose of it being different to Russian standard-used word – and not because Ukrainians have been majority using them for the last 400 years.

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          • yalensis says:

            Yup. Vocabulary is one arena where social engineers can try to manipulate language, by encouraging people (teaching kids in schools, etc) to use a certain word instead of another, maybe a German word instead of a French word, or vice versa, with the purpose of making the language more different than the other language. It’s not so easy to manipulate grammar and syntax, but vocabulary is more amenable to social control.

            Another example is where Ukrainian uses the Polish word for “thank you” (дякую) instead of the Russian спасибо. Just to make the languages as different as possible (and harder to mutually learn).

            By the way, if you are interested in Linguistics, I just remembered that I wrote this extensive 7-part series of posts (whew!) way back in 2017. If you have any spare time…
            Here is the link to Part I , and from there you can just click on “next arrow” to get to the next one.

            I have to warn you, that Part I is boring, I use the EuroNews blurb just as a pretext for what I am actually up to; but then it gets better. The backstory is that I wrote this series as part of a vicious online feud (on somebody else’s blog!) with some ignorant troll named Kirill who made ludicrous statements about language and clearly didn’t know anything, not even the difference between phonetics and alphabets, let alone phonetics and phonology. And yet he would opine about “Asian consonants” and the like, and he even had some other commenters going along and taking his side, because he sounded so authoritative in his ignorance.
            In my post I compared this guy with “Stupid Otto” from the movie “A Fish Called Wanda”. This whole feud great fun, I miss those days! (Good times…)
            🙂

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