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16 May, 2011

Mental Abyss

Ukraine is mysterious and full of surprises country. Let’s face it. Then it will become easier to tolerate some things – For instance, public statements by Ukrainian top officials. Otherwise, they seem to be living in a different world which has nothing to do with the problems and the needs of average Ukrainians, or they might just be jeering their voters

This is an impression from an interview with Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Borys Kolesnikov to Ukrainska Pravda, one of the most popular online media. It looks like Kolesnikov has either forgotten about his second title or nobody made sure that he knows about it at all, as he feels a 100% like Deputy Prime Minister for Euro 2012, even though the President abolished that portfolio several months ago. 

The essence of Kolesnikov’s worldview shows in the beginning of his interview: “Ukraine should be viewed as a post-war Europe or US of the late 19th century. We are in the same, if not worse, position economically, while mentally we are a chasm away from the West.”

Undoubtedly, their and our (politicians and average Ukrainians) ways of thinking really are a chasm away from each other, and they are not even trying to overcome it. As a result, the projects of express trains to Moscow and a new religion, weird at first sight, called football, emerge. Both the interview and other public statements make it look as if there is nothing in the world to care about other than chasing a ball – or a hockey puck since recently everything in life is being measured by football and the upcoming championship – even the failures of those in power today. “It has been a year since we started the preparations for Euro 2012 and the mistakes of the previous government do not matter,” Kolesnikov said. “We’ve had enough time to correct them.” Indeed, have there been any other troubles in the country?

They will hardly understand what their problem is. Meanwhile, people who never lived in the Country of Soviets, especially some specific regions, such as Donbas, will not understand the “true naïve zeal” of the local feudals to develop football rather than improve living standards for people. At least, this is what the high-fliers representing the nation expect from their subjects. And they are genuinely surprised when they see little excitement over their ideas, if any: “Why are our ratings plummeting? What is your problem? We are building the stadium faster than expected and will launch an express train to Moscow soon!”

This fact helps explain many things, including why Ukraine needs a super-fast train to Moscow, not to Warsaw, Berlin or Budapest (although, who knows where the train would head if Kolesnikov’s son was going to a European school, not a Russian one). It also explains why Kolesnikov thinks Roshen - the biggest producer of sweets in Ukraine - has no chance in Europe; even though this is not true (the company is already exporting products to Western countries and making them in Lithuania).

Kolesnikov is what he is. He is not pretending or playacting, and he has no intent to impress anyone. This is true about many others, not just him. In this case, he is the incarnation of those who still live in a world where Moscow is the capital of “our grand State”, NATO is an enemy, and the home team always defeats the strangers. Even if these people on the home team drive luxury cars made by strangers and keep a lot of money on deposits in the strangers' banks. 

Indeed, they have not learned anything over a year at the steering wheel. All expectations of any evolution from the Donetsk-born politicos have proved very wrong. The good old arrogance, superiority and blatant misunderstanding of the country still show in their speeches, interviews and actions. Some have no idea where the red line is between a favorite toy and the real, not illusionary, needs of people. Others, with eyes fixed to the East, have no idea that things can be better, but they need to look in the opposite direction to find it.

The only good thing about all this is that the attitude held by those in power with regard to reality, their role in it and the needs of their people, is becoming more and more obvious. This means that their time is running out. The more carefully they shield themselves from real life and feed people with projects, the sooner it will end.


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