Monday, December 2, 2013

Window on Eurasia: By Dashing Their Hopes, Yanukovich has United Ukrainians, Krylov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 2 – By his actions over the past two weeks, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has done something many in Ukraine thought impossible and many in Russia feared: he has given Ukraine a national idea and united Ukrainians of all nationalities behind it and against himself, according to a Russian nationalist theorist and activist.

                In a comment on today, Konstantin Krylov says that what is going on in Ukraine represents “an interesting, instructive and long-expected historical moment:” the Ukrainian leader has “just given his country a national idea,” one that will transform it and its relation with the Russian Federation (

            Up to now, Krylov says, “Ukrainian dreams” – and he uses English here – “could not unite Ukrainians, Russian speakers and simply Russians” for the simple reason that these three groups wanted very different things and the realization of any one of them “was viewed by the others as a threat to itself and its own identity.”

            But now an idea has been “found” that provides the basis for uniting all these groups into “a single civic nation.” That idea is “European integration as a Super Dream which unites the Ukrainian political system as a whole.”  Those who do not share this dream will “be thrown ... into the dustbin of history.”

            Krylov says that those who say a European vector has always been part of the Ukrainian agenda may or may not be correct, but only now, as a result of the EuroMaidan has it become truly unifying, the result, he argues of “the simple and extraordinarily elegant” use of an underlying psychological strategy” of playing on expectations and dashed hopes.

            To explain his argument, the Russian commentator offers the following analogy: “Imagine that you have promised your daughter a Barbie doll for her birthday. Perhaps she didn’t really want the doll all that much but she had already become accustomed to the idea that she would be getting it.”

            “And then suddenly, on the eve of her birthday, you say that you aren’t going to buy it for her because there is no money in the family even for morning kasha.”  As a result, your daughter wants that doll more than she could ever have imagined before. In her eyes, “you are a terrible person, and the Barbie doll is the distillation of all her desires.”

            Exactly the same thing has happened in Ukraine with regard to “’European integration,’” Krylov says.  It is now too late to explain to Ukrainians that the proposed agreement with the EU is not just “honey and sugar,” that “it doesn’t mean real integration” with Europe, and that “Algeria, Morocco, India, and almost all of Latin America have [such agrements].”

            Any such discussions are “worth nothing because just before the signing of the agreements, they were taken away (as it were under the pressure of hated Russia) and those who protested against this were beaten.”  That has been “quite enough” to transform a “pragmatic question” into a moral issue, “a national dream and ‘a light in the window.’”

                Everyone in Ukraine can and does share in these feelings, Krylov suggests. To be sure, he admits, it is “more complicated” for those in the eastern portions of the country to do so because they know that joining Europe may have some negative consequences for the economy where they live. 

But “all the same,” they can too because “this idea has gone beyond the limits of the ‘material’ and become a pure Idea, an idea of moving toward Absolute Light (Europe) and a flight from the Prison House of Peoples (Russia).” If for some reason the Ukrainians “don’t learn this lesson” this time around, Krylov says, “it will be repeated, as many times as necessary.”

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