- Posted March 2, 2014 by
Team iReport featured this story
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Who is Putin protecting from whom in Ukraine?
A version of MaiaKiev's essay ran as an op-ed on CNN.com.
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
I am a Russian-speaking Ukrainian. I am ethnically 50% Russian as my father was born in Siberia. I spent bigger part of my life in Russian-speaking area of Ukraine, Donetsk. Now I live in Kiev. My kids speak Ukrainian in school and with many of their friends, we speak Russian at home. When my son's 4th grade teacher talks to me she speaks Ukrainian, I respond in Russian and we don't even notice that our conversation is in two languages. I understand Ukrainian but don't speak it as easily as I speak English. I just never had any pressure to learn Ukrainian. In Lviv (western Ukraine) most speak primarily Ukrainian, but even there I never had anybody look down on me for my Russian. In Eastern and Southern regions majority speak Russian and there are absolutely no facts of forced ukranization.
You might be asking what all this fuss is about in Crimea, why thousands are coming to the streets with Russian flags, why newly elected prime minister of Crimea (by the way Russian citizen, leader of marginal party Russian Block, illegally appointed by parliament that was captured at the time of session by unknown armed men) is asking Putin for help. The request is easy to explain - it is made by a man Putin himself appointed.
Majority of people in Crimea and East don't want Putin's protection. But there are some who are afraid of forced ukranization because they have been fed a lie by Russian TV channels for years. The purpose of the lies is to convince Ukrainians that we are not one country and the safest for Russian-speaking areas is to break away and join Russia. These ideas have been sawn and cultivated forever. I remember when I lived in Donetsk in 90s how scared we were that a candidate from western Ukraine would win and force us speak Ukrainian. Having moved out of the area of Russian aggressive informational war I quickly realized I can speak Russian in Kiev or Lviv and nobody will ever be even upset with me!
Over 22 years of independence of Ukraine fears of language or ethnic persecution have never come true, but they were kept alive by Russian propaganda. We understand that Putin is trying to escalate tension and provoke civil war in Ukraine right now. He can't afford free Ukraine to succeed. His own people might get an idea that it's possible to overthrow a tyrant and build a prosperous country. He won't succeed in that. Ukrainians are wiser than that and won't kill each other over non-exsitant problem of language. To demonstrate that last week people in Lviv (traditionally Ukrainian-speaking) spoke only Russian all day and in response Donetsk (traditionally Russian-speaking) spoke Ukrainian!
No civil war in Ukraine, Mr. Putin! It must be getting harder to justify the presence of military force to protect somebody when nobody is in danger.
I just talked to my friends in Symperopol and Kharkov. Yuri in Sympheropol told me that it’s a handful of pro-Russian extremists who are trying to make a picture for Russian video cameras – they are showing that these are the Russians who request protection! Meanwhile the rest of the city is terrified by presence of Russian military forces and are evacuating their kids to friends who live in central or western Ukraine. I got a similar report from Luda in Kharkov. She said that yesterday a large group of Russians were brought across the border by buses and they were the ones yesterday to inspire and instigate unrest that resulted in putting Russian flag on a municipal building. The picture of a young men with Russian flag on the roof of the building flew around social networks very quickly. As quickly people identified that young man as a Russian citizen, who live in Moscow – his profile in a social network VKotakte revealed that information.
The amount of lies poured by Russian propaganda on Ukraine is hard to comprehend. Bringing troops on Ukrainian land is going to bring the very opposite result from what Putin expected. It’s uniting Ukraine! Meanwhile Russia and Putin are getting into deeper isolation from the world as more and more countries are recalling their ambassadors from Russia. Good job, Mr. Putin! Keep digging your own grave! And once again, thank you from all of us Ukrainians (Russian and Ukrainian-speaking) for uniting Ukraine against your military aggression!