Nationalism Ruined Ukraine's Future - Other USSR States Avoided This

Ukraine used nationalism as the foundation for state building, while Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan built the states for all citizens

Ukraine had everything going for her after the independence from the Soviet Union. It was an industrialised country with highly educated population, top scientists, and great agricultural land.

Rather than building a state, and working in the national interest of the whole population, Ukrainian elites sought to create 'Ukrainians' and plunder the country at the expense of national development.

<figcaption>False hope</figcaption>
False hope

This is an excerpt from a longer essay from Rostislav Ishchenko, a prominent and excellent Russian publicist.

Translation from the Saker.  Original Russian article appeared on March 4th on the Russian website “Odnako”.


Much was said about the venality of the elites that literally burglarized the country. However, the valid question immediately arises: why 52 million people with misguided persistence keep putting in charge precisely that type of people? Why with all the differences between the leadership styles of Russian, Belorussian, and Kazakh elites, for them the sentence “the state interests” does mean something, whereas for the Ukrainian leaders this is at best something entirely incomprehensible?

At worst, the reference to “the state interests” in Ukraine is nothing more than a way to deceive the population. How did that happen that millions happily agreed to be deceived, robbed, deprived of a future for the sake of some meaningless symbols totally alien to them – symbols that had nothing in common with either the Soviet civilization, from which these people emerged, or with the European civilization, which they supposedly dreamed of joining, or, most importantly, with real life?

In my opinion, the answer to these questions lies in one essential and quite obvious difference between the principles of the state building adopted in Ukraine and those espoused by the Russian, Belorussian, and Kazakh elites. In the last three cases, the states of citizens are being built.

In Belorussia nationalistic parties lead miserable half-marginal existence. Only in the last three-four years, the official Minsk started to show demand for the loyal “state nationalism”, which, on the one hand, is contrasted with the nationalism of the opposition, and on the other hand, is meant to provide the Belorussian leadership with some basis to counteract the overwhelming Russian influence in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

In Kazakhstan, Kazakh nationalism is relatively strong but it is not structurally defined (as political parties) and is expressed mostly at the everyday life level and at the level of bureaucratic groups. However, such experienced statesman as Nursultan Nazarbayev from the first days of the Kazakhstan independence recognized Kazakh nationalism as the most serious threat to stability, territorial integrity and the very existence of the country.

A concept of Kazakhstan, as opposed to Kazakh, state was adopted. Nationalists had to be content with the dominance of “national personnel” in business and politics. However, that dominance was never absolute, and the rights of other nationalities, first of all, the Russians (Russian-speaking, Russian-culture) were protected by law. As far as Russia is concerned, nationalists there still lament that the imperial discourse in the Russian politics never yielded to the national one. That is, Russia was developing not as a national state of ethnic Russians but as a state of Russian citizens, and in the last years – of the Russian World.

Therefore, Moscow, Minsk and Astana achieved internal stability based on the compromise among nations linked to the renunciation of the nationalistic policies. The adequate internal policy made possible constructive compromise-based foreign policy. Despite all problems, from the mid-1990s Russia, Belorussia, and Kazakhstan were moving towards re-integration of the post-Soviet space based on new political, economic, and ideological realities.

From the first days of its existence, the Ukrainian state was created with the concept of "titular nation" [meaning - based on the single dominant ethnic group in the state]. The national development was given priority, and then words attributed to count Cavour: “We have created Italy. Now we need to create Italians”, – were transformed by the Ukrainian nationalists into “We created Ukraine. Now we need to create Ukrainians”.

Instead of the idea of equality of citizens, the concept of “positive discrimination” was adopted, with centuries of “oppression” used to explain the necessity to give priority to everything “Ukrainian”.


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