I was only a teenager when — by suggestion of a friend under the intelectual fever that, in the early 80’s, stroke some middle-class sectors in Spain — I went to an unlikely cineclub in a not so advisable district of Madrid, rather distant from home, for watching a so-called “independent” movie titled Stalker, supposedly of the science-fiction genre and directed by some exotic and unknown (for us) Russian filmmaker called Tarkovski.
Needless to say that, used as I was to the livelier -when not frantic- action pace of USAmerican or European films that (then exactly like today — nothing has changed in this respect) almost exclusively filled our billboards and TV channels, I found it desperatingly slow, mostly boring and virtually incomprehensible. Besides, since I was expecting a “proper” sci-fi work, I was rather disappointed.
However, there was something indefinably interesting about it that outstood; not just the fact that it was different from any other movie I had watched before, but something else that I could not quite grasp; and despite my uneducated taste of those times and my little knowledge of the world — let alone the Russian soul, I had the feeling that it contained some message worth apprehending, and that some kind of art was involved worth being understood. Continue reading “Tarkovski revisited”
I’m very much afraid that, when seeing a correslation between Krimea and Cataluña, Spanish foreign affairs minister García-Margallo, along with many politicians and journalists, are all missing the point. Krimea’s present and past realities have nothing to do with Catalonia’s except for one thing: the referendum for independence is illegal. For the rest, Catalonia is not a region populated by a 97% of people sharing nothing with the country to which it belongs, whereas Krimea is. Equally, Catalonia is not a region artificially added to a country by political decisions totally foreign to its people’s will, while Krimea is. As a matter of fact, Krimea has never been Ukraine, whereas Catalonia has always been Spain. That’s why such presumed correlation is, to the best of my judgement, wholly mistaken: the real problem is not that Krimea wants its independence from Ukraine, but that Ukraine should have never become independent from Russia. So, we’d rather express the real correlation like this: Catalonia is not Ukraine’s Krimea, but Russia’s Ukraine.
There is a part of Ukraine which loathes Russia and wants to stress their differences as much as possible. They’re not–contrary to what The West insists on believing–a majority of Ukrainians; perhaps not even half of them; but they’re sure the noisiest. However, ironically, that Ukraine which loathes Russia is driven by a typically Russian feeling: the wish and yearning for becoming Europe; such a romantic and outdated admiration for our Old Continent. How odd! Notwithstanding, suffices to live for a couple of months among Ukrainians and Russians to realize that Ukraine is Russia to the bone; same as Catalonia is Spain, leaving differences aside.
Unfortunately, from those cold regions most of us only get to know the information and opinions our European chauvinism is able to admit, instilling the picture of a brave country boldly struggling for getting far from Russia’s influence. Indeed they struggle! To the point that, in the past weeks, they’ve carried out a real and effective coup d’état for overthrowing the legitimate Government they themselves approved in the ballot boxes a few months or years earlier; a coup with the approval of the Western world. How odd! the very Civilization sanctioning coups d’état…
And while the rioters slaughter their fellow countrymen by cobblestones and cocktails, at the moment of truth Europe flirts with Ukraine like a frivolous teaser: smiles, winks and wiggles her hips, but dodges the kisses. For Europe, that Ukraine which loathes Russia is like a wooer, useful for satisfying our vanity and feed our unbearable narcissism, but whom we don’t mean to marry. Maybe this is why we choose to ignore the other Ukraine: that vast minority yearning for the language -Russian- and bonds taken away from them by the extremism that came up after gaining independence from the USSR.
For the past two weeks, since all this problem sprung in Ukraine when their prime minister stepped back about some commercial agreements with Europe, presumedly influenced by Russia, and the ultra nationalists rioted and took the streets (with or without legitimate reasons, this I cannot tell), leading their own kin to predictable — almost suicidal deaths, and their country to the verge of a civil war, my Facebook wall has been overcrowded — virtually overwhelmed with posts from my Ukrainian contacts, which are quite a few.
Indeed, along the three months I spent in Ukraine I met lots of people, most of them quite nice and friendly; diverse people from different parts of the country, different backgrounds and, of course, different political views. And, among these acquaintances, rarely there was any who did not clasify themselves as pro-Russian or pro-European. Despite sharing, as I perceived them, the same character and culture (with some exceptions), I got the notion (accurate, I hope) that their political views were clearly divided in basically two groups: those who believed in a new country, totally diferentiated from Russia in any possible way, specially the language (though they’re so similar that I could understand Ukrainian despite being studying Russian), and those who longed for their Sovietic era and wouldn’t mind — when not clearly desire, to become again a part of Russia, or much closer partners.
But there was also an essential, though subtle, difference between my friends from one type and the other: in general, there were more students and young people among the “staunch independentists”, and more workers and older people among the “Russia nostalgics”, so to say. Consequently, I also met better English speakers among my West Ukraine acquaintances, who were also sensibly more into the internet and social media, and worse-to-no English speakers among the East Ukraine ones, who also were more alien to the new technologies; the former had the time, age and resources for being in the “global world”, whereas the latter were perhaps too busy working in their ugly industrial cities.
This approach may seem too simplistic, but it’s not so; as a matter of fact, I got twenty times more Facebook contacts among the pro-Europeans than among the pro-Russians (if I’m allowed this reduction).
Now, where am I heading? My point is simple: based on my own experience I’d venture the thesis that the perception we’re getting in Europe about the events nowadays shaking Ukraine, is far from being representative of the Ukrainian reality. It’s too biased, too incomplete. We’re mostly hearing the voice of West Ukraine, the pro-European ones, the stalwark independentists; the others don’t reach us, they don’t speak English, they don’t use Facebook nor Twitter, not in English at least, nor in German. Their voices can’t be heard by us Europeans, or westerners in general.
They’re the voiceless Ukrainians; but I’d like to hear their opinions too. Otherwise I won’t be able to get anything close to an accurate idea about what’s going on in Ukraine.
The hypocrisy of Europe with regard to the events in Ukraine is twofold and significant.
On the one hand, most of the media–and probably society as well–goad (with an insane, innermost elation) those Ukrainians who are fighting and dying for an aproach to Euroope despite no country in the EU wants Ukraine to join the club. From our unbearable superiority complex, we idioticly smile at the naïve Europeism of Ukrainian society (but mark!: only part of that society) and we threaten with sanctions to their Government–democratically elected, let’s not forget–for doing what we don’t dare to do (at least in Spain): to crush ilegitimate violence with legitimate violence.
On the other hand, we constantly congratulate ourselves with insufferable satisfaction for condemning anything neighbouring the extreme right opinions or attitudes, and we boast of our protective and grantful systems, supporters of oppressed monorities, while at the same time we chose to ignore that these riots in Ukraine are backed–no, flamed by precisely the extreme right, that they involve a radical nationalism, and that since the very independence of Ukraine one half of the society (the now protestants) discriminates against, and thrash, the only natural right of the russophone third of the population (one third!) to be officially acknowledged their language same as Ukrainian is: Russian–perhaps many Europeans ignore–is not an official language in Ukraine despite being the mother tongue of seventeen million Ukrainians.
Thus, meanwhile we clap the irredeemable Slavic romanticism and harbour the shameful, unhealthy desire to witness a revolt bathed in blood, they die by the dozens on the icy cobbles of their cities with the recklessness only Slavics are able to face death with.