The particularly jarring thing that struck me in the whole ‘oppressed Russian-speakers’ thing is the brazen ignorance my opponents demonstrated LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE TIME. Even if we don’t start on the language law (which was stupid, but the people who tried canceling it were even more stupid), there are plenty other things. One of my friends told me that advertisements in Russian are forbidden in Ukraine, thus oppressing the Russian-speakers. Big deal, no sooner than I exit my home do I run into huge adverts printed wholly in Russian language. Back then it was early 2014 and those were Medvedchuk’s “Ukrainian Choice” boards about “join Customs Union – ??? – PROFIT!”; today it’s some establishment called “L’Kafa Cafe” which looks like a bad case of Donetsk haute couture (the building it’s in is owned by the infamous ex-Russian oligarch Novinsky, which probably explains a lot). It’s not just here, but it’s the most jarring example; not all advertisement is in Russian language here in Kyiv, but a fair share of it. As far as I know, the situation is opposite in, say, Kharkiv, and I can only wonder how it was in Donetsk itself. Hardly forbidden, then. It depends more on the region you’re in than on anything else. My opponent, though, would have none of that, saying instead that ‘but you’re in the capital’. Well, okay. I’m in the capital, but we’re talking Kharkiv or Donetsk, places where the stupid language law applies, for fuck’s sake! We’re talking Crimea, for fuck’s sake, which has been bilingual at best (and wholly Russian-speaking in practice) since the beginning of time, it had EVERYTHING in Russian even before little green men came, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!
Well, okay, says another opponent (hailing from Donetsk), but what about medical prescriptions? Babushkas can’t read medical prescriptions if they are in Ukrainian! I immediately went to the kitchen, produced a box of cough syrup and read the prescription – and, what do you know, there it is, a section in Russian! Probably babushkas have more problems with ailing eyesight, because the stuff is in very fine print, but it’s there and it’s in Russian!
Okay, so you are offended by medical prescriptions not being in Russian. Okay, more power to you, but consider this: who were in power for the last three years? Were it not the people who allegedly put your interests at heart (i.e. Yanukovych’s Party of Regions)? Were they not the people who passed the goddamn language law which your local government immediately put into effect (except Crimea, where it wasn’t in effect at all, excepting Sevastopol)? So why the hell didn’t you do anything then, but complain about it NOW?!
My fucking passport has pages in Russian, for fuck’s sake! My fucking passport! issued in Ukraine! in the middle of Kyiv! where Russian-speakers are apparently oppressed and written Russian is forbidden! MY FUCKING PASSPORT!
Seriously, by that time I was getting fucking pissed off at those people. The point is, while Ukraine does need a comprehensive language law (not the 2012 abortion or the 1989 Ukrainian SSR relic, although both worked), the bulk of the grievance about Russian-speakers being oppressed isn’t legitimate, it is imagined. Imagined by people who never visited Ukraine in the first case, and by people to lazy to look outside the window and check in the second case!
Fuck it, I’m done. The fact that these same people condoned a motherfucking WWI-style land war over a fixture of their imagination is fucking beyond me.