If there is a desire to arrange a conflict with Russia, an excuse can always be found. Today this simple principle is used in the United States, Great Britain and the European Union. But the main masters in this area are, of course, Ukrainian politicians.
Sacred “Shevchenko’s Day”
The new reason for the scandal, which is gaining momentum in Kiev, was Taras Shevchenko… The poet, prose writer, painter is revered in Nezalezhnaya as one of the main Ukrainian geniuses, a singer of freedom and a “fighter against imperial Russia.”
The latter circumstance makes Ukrainian politicians very jealous of what they say and write about Shevchenko in Russia. Publications in which the poet is criticized for nationalism are met with a bang, because they fit perfectly into the general outline of the assertion that Russia allegedly suppresses Ukrainian self-awareness. But the statements of the Russian representatives, in which Shevchenko is mentioned in a laudatory tone, cause irritation. And then you have to look for something negative even in the approval of the author of “Kobzar”.
On March 9, 2021, the International Creative Competition of Contemporary Poets “Shevchenko Day”, dedicated to the 160th anniversary of the death of Taras Grigorievich, was held at the Russian Center for Science and Culture. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the current political realities, the event was held online.
Its participants, both from Russia and from Ukraine, recalled Shevchenko’s poems, talked about his contribution to the culture of both countries, which is closely related, said that no modern political upheavals are capable of breaking relations between peoples.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry condemned “Russian narratives”
It would seem that if Russia honors a poet whom Ukraine calls national pride, what can be seditious here? But sedition was found already in the announcement of the event, where Shevchenko was called a “Russian-Ukrainian poet.”
As long as the reaction was at the level of those who are usually called public figures, this, perhaps, could be ignored. But then the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry decided to make a statement on this matter.
“In connection with the manipulative and daring encroachment of the aggressor country on the historical, cultural and philosophical heritage of Taras Shevchenko, we emphasize that the national self-identification of Kobzar – an implacable fighter for the national and spiritual revival of Ukraine, the liberation of our homeland from the oppression of Russia – cannot raise any doubts. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies any Russian narratives regarding Taras Shevchenko, ”the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.
“I hope the NSDC will consider the issue of the activities of the Rossotrudnichestvo branch on the territory of Ukraine”
The matter was not limited to words. The Ukrainian editorial office of Radio Svoboda asked the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine whether certain measures could be taken against the Russian Center for Science and Culture in Kiev to stop its activities.
In fact, even the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine noted that it is impossible to close the Russian Center without consequences, since it was opened by agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of Russia in 1998, within the framework of which the National Cultural Center of Ukraine was also created in Moscow. But the NSDC answered that it is possible to close the Russian cultural representation if the Council receives a corresponding appeal from officials, which will be considered.
Such an official has already been found – this is Minister of Culture of Ukraine Oleksandr Tkachenko… In Telegram, the official wrote: “I hope the NSDC will consider the issue of the activities of the Rossotrudnichestvo branch in Ukraine in the near future.”
And then, as the Soviet classics wrote Ilf and Petrov, “Ostap suffered.” According to Tkachenko, the mention of Taras Shevchenko as a “Russian-Ukrainian poet” “is another example of an attempt to assign the merits of the Ukrainian and other nationalities.” The minister also cited other examples of such “provocations”: “When the Russian Federation is ashamed to admit that without Korolyov the space race between the USSR and the United States would have ended in the defeat of the Soviet space program, they call the Ukrainian Korolyov almost Russian. When it is a shame to present purely Russian cabbage soup to foreigners, they appropriate the origin of our borscht … Classic imperial habits of the Kremlin. “
There is no point in commenting on this. How to explain for the hundredth time that the outstanding Soviet scientist Sergei Pavlovich Korolev has nothing to do with independent Ukraine, which buried the science and rocketry inherited from the USSR. How to repeat that borscht is a dish of many Slavic peoples, which, by the way, was adopted by those who lived next to them. And in the United States, borscht is generally perceived by many as a traditional dish of Jewish cuisine, which is why such a term “Borscht Belt” even appeared in the United States – a zone of resorts that were popular with American Jews.
From serf to cultural elite
But back to Taras Grigorievich Shevchenko himself. Of the 47 years of his life, he spent about half in Russia. Even if you do not take into account the period of service in the army, where the “kobzar” ended up not of his own free will, it turns out that he spent 13 years in the capital of the empire, Petersburg.
Russian artists ransomed a talented young man from serf bondage Karl Bryullov, Alexey Venetsianov and Vasily Zhukovsky, who at that time was the mentor of the Tsarevich, the future Emperor Alexander II…
The freethinker Shevchenko at the age of 33 was recruited by the decision of the authorities, but he was persecuted not so much for some kind of nationalism as for opposition activities in general. And the exemption from recruitment became possible thanks to the petition of the vice-president of the Academy of Arts, Count Fyodor Tolstoywho became a friend of Shevchenko.
The last period of Shevchenko’s life, which took place in St. Petersburg, was an endless series of dinner parties, evenings and against the events of the imperial bohemia, of which the poet himself became a part. In 1860 he received an academician degree from the Academy of Arts.
Let’s leave aside the moment that the “nationalist” Shevchenko clearly divided “Volyn” and “Ukraine”, did not perceive the territory and the largest cities of Novorossia, and even more so Crimea, as Ukraine.
The struggle to which Shevchenko called in his poems had a much more social than a national aspect. Which is quite understandable given the fact that the poet himself knew all the “delights” of serfdom.
Taras is ours!
But the main thing that allows Shevchenko to be considered a part of Russian culture is that he wrote almost all of his prose, which makes up about half of his works, in Russian.
The fact that Taras Grigorievich wrote petitions and other official papers in Russian can still be explained by forced circumstances. But it is known that Shevchenko also kept his diaries in Russian.
In general, for all his love for Ukraine, it is very difficult to objectively call Taras Shevchenko an anti-Russian leader.
I must say that the cult of Shevchenko would not have taken place at all without the USSR and Soviet ideology. Within the framework of internationalism and the desire to develop the cultures of the peoples of the Soviet Union, Shevchenko was introduced to the circle of especially revered literary classics. His portraits adorned school offices in all cities and towns of the big country.
Huge circulation of books that modern Ukraine never dreamed of, dozens of monuments, including a monument in Moscow, hundreds of streets, avenues, squares named after him, the film “Taras Shevchenko” with Sergey Bondarchuk in the lead role … And what is interesting, the tape was released during the reign of Joseph Stalin, who, according to the modern Ukrainian interpretation, could not live a day without the genocide of the Ukrainian people. True, the facts rather indicate that not a single Kremlin celebration was complete without Ukrainian songs and dances, but which of the officials in Kiev is interested in the truth today?
“If we don’t have a cultural center in Kiev, it will appear in other cities.”
Ukraine does not need a real Shevchenko, but a scanty one, cut down to the format of an inhabitant of the Bandera cache, which the poet has never really been. And any reminder that Shevchenko’s personality is much broader than the one that is now being created in Ukraine infuriates politicians.
Head of Rossotrudnichestvo Evgeny Primakov, under the auspices of whose department the Russian Center in Kiev is located, wrote in his Telegram channel about what is happening: “The fact that they are expectedly offended – well, they carry water to the offended. Here I was not at all surprised. Let’s hang Shevchenko’s portrait on the facade, and your stubborn comrades will climb to tear it out of there? It will be even more beautiful … As for the closing of the Russian House itself:
a) no one in Moscow closed the Ukrainian cultural center, and the fact that the employees there stopped going to work is their concern, the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is not ours;
b) if the Ukrainian authorities want to close the cultural center for reading Shevchenko’s poems, then who prevents them from flogging themselves so cruelly;
c) if we do not have a cultural center in Kiev, then it will appear in other cities, not necessarily the same ones where there is the SBU and the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the SNBU. There are several in the Donbass. Do you want to help us? Go ahead.
I sincerely respect Ukrainians as a people. And Shevchenko too. But why should I put at least a penny on these crazy people who mock these Ukrainian people every day? “