Fifty years ago, Warsaw Pact forces led by the Red Army invaded Czechoslovakia. The socialist reforms of the Prague Spring were suppressed and Czechoslovakia was subjected to more than 20 years of stultifying ‘normalization’ under Soviet occupation. Revisiting his essay of 10 years ago, Ukrainian writer Mykola Riabchuk explains why his solidarity with the victims endures.
is a Ukrainian author and journalist. He is author of Die reale und die imaginierte Ukraine [The real and the imagined Ukraine], Suhrkamp 2006.
In a deeply personal reflection on identity, emigration and dispossession, writer Mykola Riabchuk surveys the recent history of his native Ukraine. He also describes the work of Vladimir Rafeenko, published in Eurozine for the first time in English on 21 August 2017.
Is Ukraine right to block media from Russia?
Western commentators have lambasted Ukraine’s decision to ban Russian media, TV and film. But Mykola Riabchuk argues that attacking the move as censorship ignores its context: namely, Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.
As Walter Benjamin once remarked, “every rise of Fascism bears witness to a failed revolution”. A statement that events in Ukraine after the Orange revolution go some way toward confirming, writes Mykola Riabchuk; not that a sudden reversal of recent trends remains out of the question.
For both Russia and Ukraine, the conflict in eastern Ukraine marks the beginning of a painful process of emancipation from a pre-modern imagined community of eastern Slavs. A process, writes Mykola Riabchuk, from which modern civic national identities must emerge.
Wider die Föderalisierung à la russe
In der Ukraine ist der Ruf nach einer Föderalisierung des Landes laut geworden. Ihre Verfechter sehen darin einen Weg, die Spannungen zwischen den Regionen zu reduzieren. Gegner befürchten die Zunahme zentrifugaler Tendenzen. Moskau propagiert die Föderalisierung, um so Einfluss auf die Ukraine zu behalten oder gar um das Land nach dem Beispiel Bosniens zu lähmen. Statt über Föderalisierung à la russe nachzudenken, sollte Kiew funktionierende staatliche Institutionen aufbauen und Reformen zur Dezentralisierung und Stärkung der Selbstbestimmung auf kommunaler und regionaler Ebene beginnen. Das wäre der wichtigste Beitrag zur Stärkung der Staatlichkeit und der Demokratie.
The case of Ukraine and Russia
In an interview conducted before Euromaidan commenced, Don Kalb discusses the future of capitalism in eastern Europe. Given the rise of China and India, and economic stagnation in the West, Kalb emphasizes the importance of political mobilization in both Ukraine and Russia.
The main threat to the revolution comes not from Crimean separatism nor from far-right groups, writes Mykola Riabchuk. The biggest threat comes from within: from old habits and oldboy networks. New politicians are needed to avoid repeating the missed opportunities of 1991 and 2004.
Statement of the Ukrainian Centre of the International PEN Club
After the Ukranian government rubber-stamped a series of repressive laws last week and further violence, the Ukrainian Centre of the International PEN Club releases a statement calling for support for Ukrainian writers and journalists, and solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
Euromaidan is not just about failing to sign the Association Agreement, but Ukraine’s whole development as a country. For 22 years, it has been stuck in a grey zone between post-Soviet autocracies to the east and increasingly democratizing and prosperous neighbours to the west, writes Mykola Riabchuk.
Even Ukrainian cultural journals have become the target of “raiders” – shady groups working on behalf of powerful interests who use bogus property claims to close down businesses. The biggest raider of all is the Yanukovych government itself, says Mykola Riabchuk.
The EU shouldn’t be surprised by the Tymoshenko verdict: its support of anything nominally reformist has been perceived as acceptance of a range of repressions. Tough measures are now needed if another authoritarian regime is to be prevented from forming on the EU’s eastern border, writes Mykola Riabchuk.
Ukrainian democracy is allegedly back to square one after Viktor Yanukovych’s election victory. Though reform will not take place as long as political infighting continues, Yanukovych is equally unlikely to drop the European rhetoric and defer to Moscow, writes Mykola Riabchuk. Ukraine’s leadership will continue to “muddle through” – for the time being.
Even if the West undertakes no obligations vis-à-vis the Rest, the principles upon which it is built suggest some responsibility, writes Mykola Riabchuk. Ukrainians are particularly wary of the Realpolitik that dominates western dealings with Russia. Whatever one thinks about the “centuries old affinity” between Ukraine and Russia, any policy that downplays the issue of values is fundamentally flawed.
Russia and Ukraine have come to terms over gas supplies, but the agreement will not bring a viable long-term solution, writes Mykola Riabchuk. It runs against the political and economic interests of the Russian elite, whose pressure Ukraine lacks the capacity to withstand. The EU, meanwhile, is reluctant to play the role of strong arbiter and to help those Ukrainians who would like to introduce transparency to a criminalized energy trade.
Ukraine and the law of communicating vessels
Ukraine’s pro-western government coalition has collapsed after only one year. Viktor Yushchenko’s victory in the elections in September 2007, called after the pro-Russian “parliamentary coup”, represented an opportunity for the gradual improvement of democratic institutions, writes Mykola Riabchuk. The latest crisis is yet another symptom of the political “pluralism by default” that undermines Ukraine’s long-term democratic consolidation.