Ukraine War Day #141: Treason On Ice

Dear Readers:

Today we switch to the world of sports. And yes, Figure Skating is a sport, so don’t challenge me on that! I have this piece from AIF, the reporter is Alexander Boyarsky.the headline reads:

The Idiocy Is Astounding: A Ukrainian Has Been Expelled From the Skating Federation Because Of His Partipation In Navka’s Show.

The Ukrainian in question is Viktor Petrenko, whose greatest achievement was winning the Gold medal at the Olympics of 1992 in the category of male individual figure skating. Currently 53 years old, Viktor had the misfortune of being born in Odessa, which placed him on the Ukrainian side of the line when the Soviet Union collapsed. Two years after his Olympic victory Petrenko had the great fortune of emigrating to the United States, bringing with him his family, his associates, his students, and many of his friends. (Elite skaters are a tight-knit group.) He still resides in the U.S., and is a well-respected coach of elite skaters.

Petrenko performing in the show.

Nonetheless Petrenko maintained ties with his native country and even served (since 2008) as the Vice President of the Ukrainian Figure Skating Federation. Until they expelled him. Not sure exactly when that happened, it could have been just a few days ago. Ironically when the Russian Special Operation started, the pro-Ukrainian side used Viktor’s name for propaganda purposes. It seems that he had been visiting some relatives in Kiev at just the time when the Russians were lobbing a few rockets in his direction. Viktor tweeted some stuff from his basement, where he was hiding out from the bombs, and became an instant martyr among the Russophobe figure-skating hoi-polloi. Happily, he survived that ordeal and returned safely to his job at the American rink. A Ukrainian hero, and now, all of a sudden, he is a traitor.

The Little Scarlet Flower

What did Viktor do that ticked the Ukrainians off? He accepted an invitation to skate in an ice show in Sochi, Russia. The show was organized by his old pal, Tatyana Navka. The 47-year-old Navka is also a former Olympic champion, having won the Gold in ice dance at the 2006 Winter Olympics (with her partner Roman Kostomarov). Navka is much hated by Russophobes due to her later marriage to Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s Press Secretary. Peskov was lucky to snag this beautiful lady, but the downside is, that Tatyana’s high position in Russian society, has put her on the American sanctions list. Ironically, Navka herself, like Petrenko, was actually born in the Ukraine, in Dnipropetrovsk, back in the days when it was just the Soviet Union. People have to understand that the world of elite figure skating is a very tight subculture, based on personal friendships and professional associations. In a word, Petrenko, Navka, and various other members of their clique (I could name-drop a lot of people), have been solid friends for many years, decades. They all went through hell together, and they all emerged successful. These are very talented people, and they are not going to let a little thing like a war or politics get in the way of friendships and professional connections built up over the years.

Navka’s ice show is called “The Little Scarlet Flower”, based on a fairy tale by Russian writer Sergei Aksakov (1858). It is a variation of the “Beauty and the Beast” motif.

Left to Right: Beast and Beauty

ThePlot: A wealthy merchant leaves for a trip abroad. He asks his 3 daughters what he should bring them home, as presents. The eldest daughter asks for a golden crown which lights up at night. The middle daughter asks for a mirror which makes her appear ever younger and never get old. The youngest daughter requests a red flower more beautiful than any other in the world. For the last request, the merchant can only promise to give it the old-school try. He says it’s easy enough to find a red flower, but how the heck can he know whether or not it’s the most beautiful one in the world?

Finishing his business trip successfully, with a big profit, the merchant heads home with all his loot, including the gifts for his two older daughters. Unfortunately, his caravan is attacked by bandits, and he is barely able to escape into the woods alone. In the woods he finds himself in an enchanted courtyard. Strolling through the garden he sees a red flower of unparalled beauty. He realizes that this is the one he wants, so he plucks the flower. At which point the master of the court, a monster, appears, all enraged that his guest plucked his favorite flower, the thing that gave the most meaning to his life. The monster sentences the guest to death for his action. However, after the merchant explains the story about his daughter, the monster lets him go, and even take the flower with him, and other precious gifts. The condition being that one of his daughters must return to the courtyard voluntarily and spend the rest of her life with the monster. If he can’t get any of his daughters to agree to this term, then the merchant must return himself and be subjected to the death penalty. The merchant agrees to the terms, and the monster gives him a riny golden ring, which has the power to transport its wearer instantaneously anywhere they like.

The merchant arrives home (using the magic ring), to find his caravan and servants already there, they also survived the ordeal and managed to keep all the loot. The merchant hands over the gifts, including the red flower, but for some reason the youngest daughter is not happy with it, and starts weeping. The following day the merchant tells his girls the whole story and requests a volunteer, to go live with the monster and thus save papa’s life. The older girls refuse outright: “Let her go, who received the red flower.” The youngest daughter agrees, dons the magic ring and appears instantaneously in the courtyard of the monster.

Kamila Valieva portrays the merchant’s daughter in the ice show.

Where she proceeds to live a life of luxury, with every whim being instantly satisfied. She never sees her host, though; he remains invisible to her. In time she becomes accustomed to his voice and starts to fall in love with him. She demands to see his face. Eventually he agrees, on the condition that she may leave instantly, if she finds him too repulsive. When he shows his face, she is not horrified, they speak kind and tender words to one another.

One day the girl sees, in a dream, that her father is ill. The monster allows her to return home for a visit, but warns her that he cannot live without her; so that, if she doesn’t return within 3 days, he will die. [Jeez, what a psychological burden on this young kid!]

Returning home, the girl tells her sisters all about her wonderful life with the monster. The sisters are jealous of her success. They sabotage her by winding the clock back, so that she misses the 3-day deadline. When she arrives back in the courtyard, she finds her host dead. Weeping, she embraces the corpse and declares her love for her “beloved bridegroom”. Hearing those words, with accompanying earthquakes and lightning strikes, the monster comes back to life, but this time as a handsome prince. He narrates the story, how a sorceress had transformed him into a hideous monster. His curse was to remain thus until he was able to find a faithful girl who would love him for his inner self and promise to be his lawful wife. He has lived thusly for 30 years waiting for The One. And then finally found her, in the form of this innocent 12-year-old girl. [Pedophile!] So, they get married and live happily ever after.

The Merchant Returns Home

Returning home to the U.S. from his magical ice show in Sochi, Viktor Petrenko found an unpleasant surprise awaiting him: A letter from the Ukrainian Skating Federation, informing him that he was now skater non-grata.

And thus, according to the reporter, has the Ukraine shown its true face to the world, has shown how contemptuously it treats its own greatest athletes. Has shown, in short, the face of a monster.

Viktor’s friends, in response, have rushed to show him their support. Coaching legend Tatyana Tarasova: “We are hoping for a time when all the people on the planet embrace each other and become friends. Viktor Petrenko is our comrade and our friend. I love him. I wish peace on earth to everyone.”

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12 Responses to Ukraine War Day #141: Treason On Ice

  1. gatopreto says:

    Dear Yalensis Regarding the Viktor Petrenko ordeal, pardon my ignorance or may be my false memories: to me, Ucraine was but a province of the Great Russian Empire. Also, the so called Ucrainian Language is but a corruption of the Russian Language with, I have been told, a few Polish words thrown in. Hoping you can find the time to touch on this subjet, Gatopreto.

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    • yalensis says:

      Hi, Gato. On the former, yes, Ukraine was a Russian province up to the time of the Russian Revolution.
      On the latter, respectfully, no, Ukrainian is an actual language. I mean, it’s very close to Russian, I would say analogous to Spanish and Italian. The Slavic languages started diverging and branching out in medieval times. Three Eastern Slavic dialects emerged: Great Russian, Belorussian, and Surzhyk aka Rusin aka Ukrainian. And various patois within each. The rule of thumb is that, if people can’t understand each other any more, then it’s a different language as opposed to a dialect, or a patois.

      If you are interested in the Linguistics of this issue, you might be interested in reading this series of posts which I penned all the way back in 2017! It gets into the down and dirty of language politics, Linguistics as a Science, and the issue of Ukrainian as a language/dialect.

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  2. BM says:

    Thankyou for writing about the Little Scarlet Flower fairy tale, Yelensis. You introduce it as if it were just another version of the Beauty and the Beast motif, but isn’t it interesting the difference? The European version is at its core just the classic greed and lust for money sex and power, while the Russian version not only transcends that but is directly about the transcendence. What a difference in cultures and way of thought. Those Ruskies truly tower over the rest of us!

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    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, BM, I am glad you enjoyed this story. Full disclosure, I had never heard of it before, but reading about it, it sounds so enchanting that I must obtain a copy and read it. The wiki entry notes Aksakov’s exquisite use of the Russian language, as in these “old style” fairy tales. The cadence is song-like, with occasional rhymes and alliteration. As example they give this heart-wrenching passage where the young girl embraces the corpse of her monster-friend:

      Помутилися её очи ясные, подкосилися ноги резвые, пала она на колени, обняла руками белыми голову своего господина доброго, голову безобразную и противную, и завопила истошным голосом: «Ты встань, пробудись, мой сердечный друг, я люблю тебя как жениха желанного!..»

      Her bright eyes filled with tears, her frisky feet buckled underneath her, she collapsed onto her knees, with her white hands she embraced the head of her kindly master, that head so monstrous and ugly, and she cried out in her weary voice: “You must get up, wake up, friend of my heart, I love you as my beloved bridegroom!”

      I wish I could have seen that ice show, it sounds wonderful, and I would have loved to watch Petrenko skating with Kamila.

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      • moon says:

        Maybe since I am not familiar with the Beauty-and-the-Beast fairy tale. Sounds like Walt Disney to me. Sorry. 😉 Ok maybe its more (narrative) motif and less fairy tale in mind. Or am I mistaken? There are such fairy tales. Like little red riding hood?

        It feels that Sergei Aksakov may have had Shakespeare’s King Lear in mind. Is the crown the first daughter wishes reminiscent of that? Isn’t the youngest comparable to Cordelia?
        Ok, the monster daughters are missing. Or are they? Ok a merchant father, instead of a king.
        I love Grigori Kozintsev’s King Lear. by the way.

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        • yalensis says:

          1) I never saw Disney’s Beauty/Beast, so I don’t know what the main emotion is. The Askasov theme is reminiscent of many classical love stories. Wagner’s Fliegende Holländer springs to mind. I mean, it’s not the same at all, because the Flying Dutchman is not a monster, nor physically repulsive; he’s just very old. But the overall shtick is the same, that a woman (or girl) must be found who is willing to sacrifice herself and give unconditional love, in order to save the doomed man. And this theme resonates with the female psychology as well, as young women (and girls) are often filled with feelings of unbounded love and altruism, it all comes from the hormones of course.
          2) I don’t see too much in common with Red Riding Hood, except that these are all tales about very young women and girls confronting dangerous male figures of one sort ot another (including wolves). Young girls, of course, being the target audience for all of these fairy tales, when they were first concocted by wandering minstrels!
          3) The Lear comparison is rather perceptive. I have actually seen Kozintsev’s King Lear movie, it’s by far the best Lear ever. It takes a Russian soul to really know your Shakespeare!
          🙂

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  3. peter moritz says:

    Back to the grind:
    https://gilbertdoctorow.com/2022/07/08/rts-cross-talk-is-back-on-youtube-com/

    “I write to you from St Petersburg and am again able to watch the Russian media more closely. In today’s harvest: a Russian officer is saying that the HIMARS rocket launchers which are now wreaking havoc on Kakhovka and other DNR towns are manned not by Ukrainians but by US and UK officers. That effectively makes the US and UK co-belligerents and allows the Kremlin at any moment to declare war by word or by deed. Watch out!”

    This makes sense, as I doubt that Ukrainian soldiers could have had enough hours to train on a piece of sophisticated equipment like that.
    Too bad that in this case neither the US nor the UK seems to take the possible consequences into serious consideration. Maybe they really believe that Russia is running out of Ammo.

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    • yalensis says:

      Right. This is the factor which even some pro-Russian analysts (like The New Atlas, for example) did not take into account. They had pointed out that it would take months to fully train Ukrainians on the proper use of the HIMARS, thinking this would slow down the deployment. The logical solution for the Americans, is to operate the equipment themselves. Which makes them full participants, yes. (As if they weren’t, already!)

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    • moon says:

      Were did you pick up the citation, pm? I recall I watched the video a while back and the Himar’s didn’t seem to be the Issue. Besides “I write to you from St Petersburg ” …

      Like

      • peter moritz says:

        Were did you pick up the citation, pm?
        I clearly linked to the article.

        Himars didn’t seem to be an issue, and it likely aren’t in the big scheme of things. Yes, they will cause damage, more so among civilian than military installations, but Russia is hitting, as a response, areas deep in Ukraine proper.

        Besides “I write to you from St Petersburg ”

        and?

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  4. Bukko (what happened to my avatar?) says:

    That was a fascinating weaving of old fairy tales and new fascist trolls, Yalensis. Should Petrenko be bummo-ed over being booted from the skating federation of a failed state that’s on thin ice as far as its own survival goes? Maybe so, if it would cut him off from what you describe an an insular group in a (hopefully) well-insulated (as in “their clothing”) sport.

    After I wrote “well-insulated” I thought back over the professional skating costumes I remember seeing over the years. Which were much skimpier than the gear I wore during the few times I’ve taken to the blades on a rink! And that’s one of the reasons men watch Ballet on Ice, heh-heh. I wonder how Lusya Arestovich would look in one of those…

    It will be interesting to see if U.S. .gov authoritahs put any sort of squeeze on Petrenko. Do you think the Ukie skatey mob has enough pull and malice to cause a clampdown? OK, the malice part for sure! But have they got the blat? (Is there a different word for that in Ukranian? Every language develops its own spin on criminal-ish concepts.) If Petrenko brought a lot of his cohort with him to live in the U.S., I bet some of them — perhaps even him — could have visa-related vulnerabilities.
    Will Azovukies be able to exert more malign influence inside the U.S. when their current .guv falls and the top dogs go into exile? More than what Nuland (and Freeland in Canada) do already? I’m thinking about a Kiev equivalent (Kievequiv?) to the Cubano exiles in Miami. Having lived in Floriduh for many years, I saw a lot of their clout and disruption. It’s not widely reported (but NOT in the realm of conspiracy theory) but exiled Cubans made multiple terrorist attacks in Florida. Car bombs, shootings and other mayhem was directed at people perceived to be pro-Castro. Mostly in Miami, and mostly against other Cubans. They even blew up a Cuban airliner in 1976 that was flying to Jamaica, and when the perp was caught in the U.S., Amerikan authorities let him live there unprosecuted until he died of old age.

    (I hope that sly link works. I used to be better at coding them. It’s to Granma, the Cuban commie propaganda publication, so it’s a bit tendentious.)

    It will be interesting to see if the Ukrainian diaspora goes to war-a against itself in the U.S. Won’t that be fun in a land that’s already full of gunz? What are the odds that some of those Javelins that went missing will return home to the good ol’ USA to blast the BMW of some un-P.C. persona? They’d be much better at shredding a car than they are with tanks….

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    • yalensis says:

      Dear Bukko:
      (1) Your HMTL link almost worked, you just had an extra double-quote at the end, once removed it’s okay, here it is again. Thanks for that link, by the way, and for reminding us of the violence and terrorism of a part of the Cuban community.
      (2) Optimistically, I don’t believe that the Ukrainian diaspora in the U.S. will descend to that level of terrorism and violence as the gusanos. I could be wrong, but I hope I am right. My optimism mainly because most of the real Nazis will have been liquidated by that point, and most of the emigres who flood in will be just regular people, I think. Of course, it goes without saying that the CIA will set up a pool of terrorists and assassins, but their targets will probably be other countries and not necessarily the internal community.
      (3) I have no idea what is Viktor’s immigration/citizenship status in the U.S. I am worried about him in that regard. More importantly, I don’t know enough about the bureaucracy of the world figure skating organizations to know if his changed status in his home country will affect his career as a coach at major U.S. rinks. I know that he has lived in the U.S. for quite a long time and raised a family here. He probably won’t be able to go back to the Ukraine, but from I understand, the Russians would take him in, in a heartbeat, if it came to that. But that would mean he would have to uproot his family, so it’s not good for him. I certainly hope that ice show was worth all that!
      (4) Regarding skimpy skating outfits: I may have disclosed to my “older” readers that I dabble in figure skating myself. I am not very good at it, but I take regular lessons and am better than, say, the average person off the street stumbling around on Public Skate. In any case, I can testify that, after a few laps of real stroking, one gets incredibly hot and sweaty. Which always makes me wonder at the hockey players, how do they not burn up in all that gear?
      (5) As for some of the show costumes, like “ballet on ice”, well, they are downright indecent, in some cases one can see almost up a woman’s crotch. But Russians don’t seem to mind, although they pretend to be prudes – heh heh!
      (6) As for Lusya, I think he needs to appear in “Cinderella On Ice”, as the Fairy Godmother, that would allow him greatest comic effect, in terms of wigs and garish dress and bling. Kamila can be Cinderella, Navka can be the stepmother, and Viktor Petrenko can portray Don Basilio. All under the aegis of the Russian Skating Federation, after Lusya defects, it goes without saying.

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