News / Europe

    In Ukraine, Divisions Not Necessarily About Language

    In Ukraine, Divisions Not Necessarily About Languagei
    X
    Al Pessin
    June 18, 2014 7:24 PM
    From the outside, the crisis in Ukraine appears to be drawn along ethnic and linguistic lines - between Russian-speakers who identify with Russia and Ukrainian-speakers who identify with Ukraine. But during a recent visit, VOA’s Al Pessin found out it’s not so simple.
    Al Pessin
    From the outside, the crisis in Ukraine appears to be drawn along ethnic and linguistic lines - between Russian-speakers who identify with Russia and Ukrainian-speakers who identify with Ukraine.  But it’s not so simple.
     
    The complexity of Ukraine’s political divide is particularly easy to see in the southern city of Odessa.
     
    In a building at Kulikova Field, dozens of pro-Russian protesters died in early May after a pitched battle with a pro-western group and an intense fire.  But even here, those mourning the dead declare their loyalty to Ukraine - in Russian.
     
    “The people who died here weren’t separatists.  They were standing for Ukraine, a cohesive Ukraine.  But they just wanted federalism,” said Lila, a saleswoman.
     
    “People in the east are more absolutist and radical.  Here, we are more tolerant,” said Vladimir, an activist.
     
    Across town, supporters of Ukraine’s increasing ties with Europe finished a rally and posed for a photo.

    “I’ve had lots of negotiations with people from Kulikova Field.  They are mostly okay.  But radicals manipulate them if they don’t really know what’s going on,” said Yevgeny, an activist leader.
     
    The language is really a non-issue, explained Sergey, a seaman.

    “They [those perceived to be pro-Russia] just historically [are] speaking [the] Russian language.  But they don’t like to be in Russia," he said. "We like our freedom, and it doesn’t matter which language we speak.”
     
    Local journalist Oksana Butuk is not surprised by the lack of hostility among her fellow-Odessans.
     
    “Language is not the thing that divides in Ukraine. I, for example, grew up in a Ukrainian-speaking family but I don’t feel any aggression or pressure,” said Oksana.
     
    And she said that in Russian.
     
    To help explain, regional vice governor Zoya Kazanzhy offered this:
     
    “There’s a poem in Russian that says you can’t understand Russia with your brain.  Odessa is not a monolith.  There are lots of small Odessas inside Odessa.”
     
    Kazanzhy said supporters and opponents of the pro-western revolution used to get along in Odessa, and she blames provocateurs for stirring up the violence and trying to stoke ethnic tensions that she says never really existed before.
     
    The vice governor says her main focus now is on restoring what she calls Odessa’s “easy-going” and multi-lingual lifestyle.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Jaycey from: Zaporozhzhye, Ukraine
    June 19, 2014 2:15 AM
    "The language is really a non-issue, explained Sergey, a seaman."

    I think that comment sums it up. Most Ukrainians speak both Ukrainian & Russian – because a person speaks Russian doesn’t mean they have any love for Russia. It’s a feeble Putin excuse to invade to protect the ‘Russian speaking people’. Hitler did something similar.

    There are more Russian speaking people outside Russia that in Russia itself – PLEASE DON’T ‘RESCUE’ US MR PUTIN!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora