Ukraine began 2020 as a turbulent state. There have been six years of the Russian-Ukrainian war with no visible end. New challenges, questions and responses are radically different but equally turbulent for the different parts of Ukrainian society. Ukrainian events happen against a background of global instability. How can Ukrainian society deal with those problems and phobias?
We decided to talk on this subject in Estonia with Oleg Pokalchuk, a Ukrainian Information Security expert, a Board Member at the Institute of Social and Economic Research/ISER in Kyiv, the author of scientific articles and methodological works on the topics of social fears, political leadership and political elite, a social and military psychologist.
ON STABILITY IN UKRAINE, CIVIL SOCIETY AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF POLITICIANS
Q: In spring 2019, in an interview with Ukrinform, you said that no politician was able to make Ukraine unstable. Do you think it is still so?
A: Yes. First of all, it is necessary to determine who in Ukraine we are talking about. If you talk on behalf of bureaucrats, who sit in the Pechersk area, then, of course, they are constantly shaken by the realities and are very concerned about their own stability.
Regarding the rest of the 40 million Ukrainian population, I would like to make the following comparison: there is a device called a gyroscope which is used, among others, in an aviation navigation. It balances any system due to the earth's gravity. A Ukrainian ethno-national gyroscope is embedded into the social fabric, it works and functions due to completely different principles than it seems to politicians, intellectuals and others, who do not make a serious influence on major developments. In Ukraine, I see a large resource of stability - it is such a tectonic and a meteorological factor. It does not mean that Ukrainians have worked somehow on it or have some special high resistance. Its roots are in history.
What is instability? It is quite a subjective feeling, usually related to discomfort that a particular person is experiencing. I am not talking about a group of people, which does not feel any discomfort. A group has no sense organs but an individual has them. An individual always projects themselves onto a group, thus raising their self-esteem and, of course, empowering themselves with the group’s energy and influence. This is a human nature.
Therefore, talks about some kind of instability or possible threats related to one person's will are scientific nonsense. Not a single person, possessing charisma, empathy and everything else is able to change any processes. So stability is something much more than we imagine.
Any society, not only Ukrainian, is a complex and multi-component system. Its destabilization, as with any ethnic group is, in principle, impossible. Look at a Jewish nation, what a long history of suffering and distress. And they, as a result, have Israel. Some other nations are similar to it. It is impossible by any political, military or mystical ways to destabilize a nation unless a time has come for it to be destabilized.
Q: Our time has not come yet?
A: No. We are a very young nation. The processes, which shook us, happened during our puberty, we had our own growth diseases, acne, for instance, literary and journalistic. We still behave as teenagers: we look in a mirror and sometimes seem to ourselves like a nasty duckling, another time we look like the most charming princess of the world...
Q: What about the Donbas problem? Does an attitude of the Ukrainian society to it create instability?
A: There is no attitude of our society to Donbas. There is an attitude of the different layers of our society to different parts of a Donbas problem.
Q: Is it necessary to seek a national consensus on this issue?
A: May I ask a counter-question: would you please give me an example from the most recent history when a certain opinion of a society was decisive in determining such issues?
Q: (Pause) Never.
A: It is clear why. Because in order to make such decisions, politicians try to find themselves indulgent, they try to cover themselves with an opinion of the society and find support for their decisions in such a multi-vector set of opinions.
I did say at the very beginning of our conversation that there is no holistic and cohesive Ukrainian society, as there is no unified American or German nation. There are different social groups with different relationships. They are structured, but they are different. Politicians, asking publicly themselves and us a question, which you have just asked, later look for the most comfortable answer: ‘Oh, you see, the Ukrainian society wants this or that… Proportionally, maybe it is a lesser part of the society, but they are our best people…’ It depends on a political situation, that's all.
If the Ukrainian society would have some kind of influence on politics, roughly the same as the American society possessed at the end of the Civil War, all would be different. Americans were an armed society that said to their politicians: ‘No guys, it won't be like that, otherwise wait for the second Boston Tea Party’. What we call in Ukraine ‘a monitoring opinion’ is a Facebook society’s opinion. It's not even a society - it's a bubble...
An answer you wish to receive depends on how you ask a question. People want to have a good life, to live in peace and have food and a roof over their heads. All over the world is so.
An influence on the complex phenomena related to violence, death, destruction or conflict between different value systems is an unbearable task for a society. This is a difficult task for philosophers, politicians and a society. Therefore, I believe that in this matter, politicians use a society as an instrument to achieve their purposes in a dishonest way for completely different, even sometimes opposite, goals.
Q: …while they need to impose, form public opinion, for example, on the Donbas situation?
Q: Do they have to take responsibility?
A: No, if we talk about some protocol, then we can only appeal to a need to educate what we call ‘a middle class’, which in a developed society functions as a communicator and a skilled mediator between the masses, which tend to think little but understand a lot (the masses always have a good intuition).
But in our situation the authorities have been doing everything to prevent the civil society from its influence on decision-making because it is in the authorities’ interests. Only the lazy did not write about feudalism. After all, it seems quite convenient to manage masses of people, praising them, rubbing their ears, occasionally throwing some bones to them: ‘It is very tasty, eat, look how good it is…’ This kind of positive patterning results in certain conditioned reflexes - people do not even understand that they are being fooled for three pennies all these decades with beautiful though senseless words.
Q: You are trying to say that politicians do not need to take a public opinion into account?
A: It is important to rely on a public opinion, because the society can be offended and rebel. For instance, Maidan was a normal reaction to what was happening in Ukraine. Ukrainian politicians think that it will not happen again, we will somehow cheat, outwit and outmaneuver. But these are dangerous games.
It turns out that, and I kind of methodologically contradict myself, but these are different layers of communication. It is not necessary to do what the society says, because the society does not know itself what to do. However, it is necessary to listen to it.
Q: The problem here is that the different segments of society want diametrically opposite things.
A: Let's deal with the masses. I will repeat: in Ukraine for many years there has been a struggle for the formation of a fully functioning civil society - this stratum of population is very important and necessary. But, as soon as it starts to grow and be independent – it suffers from attacks from all sides. It is considered by the authorities as a competition a threat and a potential for a change. It still happens and will happen in the future. The Ukrainian society without this stratum will always ‘burn a landlord and to the Sich" - a classic Ukrainian problem.
The Ukrainian state without a civil society will always follow a Leninist model of the state as an apparatus of violence: ‘Go to work or to prison!’ It will always gravitate towards it.
Therefore, our task is to develop and consolidate civil society’s positions, but in terms and concepts of the 19th century, not the 20th. It is necessary to modernize those positions, because of time, changes and circumstances when information in the world doubles every 18 months.
ON THE THIRD WORLD WAR, PUTIN, TRUMP AND THE TRUTH
Q: You say that politicians are finding a crack in society and constantly target it. And not only politicians who are interested to maintain their power hit that target. Opponents, who are interested in overthrowing current power, our neighbors who want to occupy us, etc. How can we resist?
A: ‘We’ means who?
Q: I mean Ukrainians
A: I always urge you and our potential readers to speak accurately and precisely.
Q: OK. My fears are the following: I am afraid that Putin will occupy us further or bring us back to the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. I am afraid that Ukraine will disappear...
A: You have mentioned different things, different fears and they cannot be confused. I understand that an apocalyptic thinking is a peculiar Ukrainian feature, Ukrainians like it terribly, it is very colorful, however, superfluous.
Ukraine might be occupied, but Ukraine will not disappear, because there are Ukrainian people and there is a nation. It had happened in history already: there was no Ukraine as a separate state, but there were Ukrainians.
If Putin attacks or not- it does not depend on our own cracks. It depends on completely different configurations. Benefits or losses from the attack must be seen in a global context of the Russian imperial ambitions and in the context of those wars, secret and explicit, which already take place on the planet. Ukraine is just one of the theaters of this world war.
I would like to give a following example as a comparison: a soldier during the first three days of war believes that all the bullets and shells are flying at him/her. Ukrainians are constantly going through those first three days.
People, who were at war, came to their senses and began to really understand everything since the fourth day. Politicians keep civilians deliberately in a state of a “groundhog day”, like those soldiers, who have just come to war and everyone wants to kill and occupy them. Maybe not necessarily now, not necessarily personally them and maybe not occupying, but something else… That is why people need to think, analyze, adequately assess the risks and respond adequately to challenges and threats.
Q: Not long ago, Putin said, ‘The Russian language is being deliberately destroyed all over the world’. In this message I see a threat of ‘saving a Russian-speaking population’ all over the world...
A: It is Hitler’s style. In the 1930s, Hitler also said that Germans are oppressed all over the world. I have already said that if the third world war is already happening, then Ukraine is currently one of the theaters of this war with the phases of its calmness and activation.
Putin is a KGB officer, which means he thinks in terms of intrigues, threats, blackmail and risk, but not in terms of operating large battalions like Napoleon did.
Putin is situational, but not strategic. No matter how much we talk about some ‘Russian strategic intentions’, Putin has no strategic thinking, he works and thinks in an operational-tactical mode and quickly makes situational decisions: if he sees a slack - yes, he could possibly get there; while he experiences a rebuff - right away: ‘nothing has happened, it was not us, we were not there, green men? which green men? I do not know, I have no clue who they could be, it is not me." This is Putin’s modus operandi.
We are all waiting for his imperial reaction: Putin will come to the Red Square, open his parchment and announce about a beginning of a large- scale, impressive war. There will never be one. Putin has a completely different mindset. He is good in intrigues, murders, bribery, espionage, sabotage groups, etc.
So I urge everyone to see him (and whom we rightly criticize) as a person who can resolve a local conflict at any moment, but not exactly in terms and scope we fantasize about. I urge you not to think about this too much, because we have enough experts in Ukraine who care day and night on how to react to those threats. Our [Ukrainian] system of national security and defence is not bad, it is definitely better than it was in 2014. I can confirm that. Therefore, I believe that the civil society does not need to panic.
Q: Another question is about the psychological aspect of war. Israel has been living in war for 50 years and the Israeli society is quite calm about it...
A: Not quite so. First, the Israeli society lives in conditions of a constant possibility of war. Second, US assistance to Ukraine is $250 million, US assistance to Israel is $3.1 billion. With such aid, they can feel confident enough to build, for instance, a ‘Dome’ missile system and successfully deal with Palestinian missile attacks.
There were very serious military threats and fighting, a brilliant work of Israeli intelligence and counterintelligence – all of that shaped a creation of a holistic national security system that has been built on the ideology of Zionism, which cares about national security. It is in their religious faith and it strengthens them. Talking about our system, Israel is a country that can serve as a model for motivation.
We currently live in a state of war and in this matter we need to separate and clarify important things very precisely. For example, Americans or other NATO personnel take part in military missions abroad as instructors and advisors. But those missions are not war, a soldier comes to participate in a mission and leaves it due to rotation. This is different than our war. Its psychology is different. Injuries are the same, people might die in the same way, heroism is the same, all emotions are the same, but it is different.
In America, the rest of the nation might have nothing to do with their overseas missions. Here, in Ukraine you deal with the current war even if you really do not want that. You must either deny it or accept it. Therefore, a comparison with Israel might be incorrect - they do not live in a state of war, they live in a state of a threat from the Muslim world and Islamic extremists. They are an outpost of the Western civilization in the region, successfully dealing with threats, but it is not a war...
Q: What kind of help from the authorities is needed for a society to deal with those fears? How a state can influence people to keep stability: consultations? open lectures?
A: The state and its representatives must tell the truth - this is the alpha and omega of everything.
When they tell the truth, there are no additional questions. And if misunderstandings are not cleared immediately - then there are problems, speculations, and fears.
The government needs to tell the truth: ‘yes, it is a war, a Russian-Ukrainian war, it will be a long one, yes, people will die, it is bad, but we will do everything to make it less harmful for the nation. There won't be as many casualties as in 2014 or 2015, but they will happen. People have a contract job to defend their country, they get paid for it, they are not civilians who might be killed if somebody brakes into their home, they are soldiers and their function is to win or die ...’ That is honest. It is very unpleasant, but the government must have the courage to say it. And, moreover, if it was said, I believe, that a huge part of the Ukrainian society would have accepted it with dignity.
Q: Regarding support to Ukraine from other countries. In the fall of 2019, at a press conference with President Zelensky, President Trump said, ‘I hope you will solve your mutual problems with Putin’. We understand that America is not President Trump only, but still, when the head of the country, which is our strategic partner, is represented by such person as Mr. Trump, can we count on any positive signals from their side?
A: I am just looking for a politically correct answer ... Our habit of responding in a certain way to statements of the top politicians is a legacy of the 20th century. Probably, in early and mid-20th century, the politicians’ statements had every reason to be reliable and decisive and we are pleased to quote de Gaulle, Churchill and other prominent leaders. Now we see some devaluation of this discourse all over the world. This is due to the fact that a major decision-maker process has shifted to the 2nd echelon.
For example, at the NATO headquarters, unlike in a European or American civic political system, majority do their best to understand a certain issue precisely, correctly see it, define it and work on it. The European Union and NATO, a system of a collective economic and military security, make joint decisions that determine a collective discourse, which does not depend on statements of certain politicians or individuals.
All over the world so. I am quite sure of this, because all over the world, certain professional discourses, which deal with issues of war, peace and security, have a very high degree of responsibility, require professionalism and competence. The major task of politicians, however, is to simply engage in politics.
It is impossible to separate Ukraine and the Ukrainian situation from current world events. When people tell me: ‘What are they thinking over there? We have disgraced ourselves before the whole world! or ‘What will the world think ?!’ I usually say that there are more than a billion Chinese, more than a billion Hindus in the world, and probably a billion of Muslims already - and those three-quarters of the world's population most probably are reluctant to consider Ukrainian problems as their priorities at the moment. They have enough challenges of their own and are preoccupied with their national troubles trying to solve them.
Q: And how the Ukrainian authorities should respond to our current challenges in this global configuration?
A: A threat is an obvious thing. For example, if we sit by the sea and suddenly the sea is rapidly retreating, we feel an obvious threat of a possible tsunami’s approach. If we are talking about risks, there might be some actions towards minimizing the consequences, but not their prevention. There are challenges which could be a result of what has already happened and what we can still work on, instead of crying and saying, ‘Well, it's all gone!’
Our foreign friends sometimes mention to us that ‘you, Ukrainians, do not reserve for yourself a right to make a mistake. You believe that you are such an impeccable nation that if a mistake does happen, you hide it and react immediately: ‘No, this is impossible, it wasn't us who made a mistake!’ You behave like a child, who smashed a cup and said: ‘It's not me, it's a boy, who ran in, smashed a cup and ran back to the street’.
Therefore, a modern Ukrainian society’s behaviour is quite a teenage type of behaviour. A lot is written and said about that.
On the contrary, if our foreign colleagues happened to find a mistake in our joint project operations, they defined it, studied it, got rid of it and tried not to do the same mistake in the future.
Threats, risks and challenges are three different concepts that need to be clearly distinguished.
Categorization is very important and many of my acquaintances in general uniforms, as well as professional civilians, highlight a need to precisely define a conceptual vocabulary of major issues and concerns for politicians to deal with. It is because of nonsense that bloggers, journalists and people, who call themselves PR specialists, spread as an outrageous mix of concepts, sentiments, self-inventions and useless hysterics.
Therefore, the first thing that is needed- right definitions, the second is what is called in English ‘an assay’- a careful analysis. Our friends explained to us: ‘If you can't investigate and analyze the precise results of your impact, don't even start to plan it’. So first we need to decide first and foremost: what we want our government do for us.
Q: What then should the Ukrainian authorities do in the current circumstances?
A: The Ukrainian authorities need to explain in simple words to people the following: we want to do this or that and what do you, Ukrainian people, think about it?
There should be a sense of duty to ask Ukrainian people directly, without those complicated social surveys and spins. If an answer from people is received, the actions of the authorities should be in congruence with this answer.
We, however, need to understand the current world context further. People think in a tactical dimension: here and now – ‘we want it to be in this way and now’. People cannot predict or determine far-reaching consequences of their current choices and actions. It is a task of politicians to think strategically. They have to say to people: "Guys, if you do it now, then after a while it will be completely wrong, do you want it?’
It is necessary to act in a most productive and useful way for people to make their life better. It is a duty of politicians to take responsible risks. A society's opinion is a framework of decision-making, not mandatory though, but it must be taken into account. Such frameworks consist of the different intensities of pressures on society from its allies and enemies and this is a very complicated configuration.
The higher the government rises in its strategic evaluation of different economic, political and social phenomena, the more erased become the concepts of ethics-enormous money is involved, a huge turnover of capital, means and instruments of influence, etc. It is a matter of high-profile and responsible specialists to evaluate the far-reaching consequences of any political action.
ABOUT TRUST, COLLECTIVE HAPPINESS AND PSYCHOTYPE OF THE NATION
Q: About trust. Now, in our society, there is a very low level of trust to all political institutions...
A: And when was it high?
Q: Maybe, when Kuchma was a President, it was higher...
A: Trust of who to whom?
Q: Trust of citizens to state authorities. Suppose someone does not trust our current government, someone did not trust the past government. At the same time, Estonians say that they do not question actions of their authorities, they have a high level of trust to them and delegate their decision-making mandate to their authorities.
A: Do you really think that trust is a key factor for the effective functioning of a political mechanism?
Q: There is an opinion that without trust to the authorities there will not be a unified society...
A: This is an erroneous opinion. A unified society never exists anywhere other than in a totalitarian world. People are different. Yes, there is a message and a desire to trust the government, but it is a substitution of a rational component with moral and ethical categories, which should sacredly balance everything or to put it differently, a belief that miscalculations and errors, which the current government makes might be compensated by our trust when we finally say: ‘Let’s have a true confidence in our authorities!’
In a technocratic society, such categories are not taken into account. For example, when a plumber repairs something at your house, you assess a quality of the work, but not a plumber’s beauty. If a job is properly done, you will pay money for it. This is a model of relationships between a society and a state.
Q: And then what to ask from the public? What should the state be interested in and what to measure?
A: It is written in the Ukrainian Constitution, there is no need to ask for anything. The majority of the Verkhovna Rada adopted the Constitution and constitutions in the whole world are written according to one principle: first- the nation’s basic needs, ambitions, dreams, fears, etc. are determined, then they are codified into a Basic Law. If something is missing there, there are by-laws to deal with it.
I am categorically opposed to substituting laws with some moral imperatives which is present in current Ukrainian discourse. We do not want to follow laws and we do not want to implement them. They are boring, we have to work a lot on them and somehow all of that is not comfortable. As to our talks about morality and trust- here we are great, especially since it costs nothing and does not affect anything. Such tricky thinking is constantly encouraged and for some reason we accept it.
Q: Maybe because we are not educated in this field enough?
A: It also exists, but it is not a matter of education, I would rather call it experience, because we traditionally have a good education, we are a cultural and well-read nation.
But we also are an artistic nation - we have wonderful songs, dances, fiction and poetry. It forms, as well, a certain kind of political thinking, which, in my opinion, is bad. It is the 21st century already and we only acquire some practical experience. Thanks, by the way, to visa-free travel.
We already understand what Europe is, without extra explanations. We understand how the European Union works with its pluses and minuses. This is a practical experience and it cannot be learned in another way. If our humanitarian sufferings, which worth nothing, could be combined with the practical experience, then all that archaic construction might acquire new and important meanings. A new Ukrainian generation will grow up for whom all of this will be a natural thing, then everything will change for the better.
Q: On the influence of journalists on a psychological state of society. In the last two years, probably, before the summer parliamentary elections, almost all media groups were talking about ‘a terrible betrayal’ and corruption. But after the elections, the negative information on TV was minimal. At the same time, in September 2019, the number of citizens who were satisfied with what is happening in the country increased by 11 percent. Is this the influence of journalists? Can journalists change a mood of people or not?
A: Yes and no. Journalists really affect changes in people’s emotions, but nothing more. It is very important to understand that a change in emotions does not result in a change of behavior. But for media professionals those changes are enough - they spoiled people's mood and got their money for it. They are happy and everyone is fine: here we are, all is well done, let’s scare somebody else.
Q: And if journalists purposefully uplifted and encouraged their readers/viewers with positive news, would that work?
A: Consumers most probably will not buy that. All over the world, by the way.
Q: Does it mean that this whole story with targeted information will not work?
A: You can inform only those who have a request and desire to accept information. The journalist really affects the mood cumulatively, that is, the system of transmitting the emotional signal is distributed through hearing and through re-evaluation and a story-retelling: ‘Have you seen what was on TV? I saw such a thing! Ah-ah-yah!’
This kind of information has the potential to be spread widely, but positive stuff is not, because positive is boring, does not stimulate an instinct of procreation and preservation of species.
A: Because it is self-sufficient. After all, when you tell me that tomorrow will be the end of the world and everyone will die, I will immediately begin to think how I can effectively spend my night, the last one in my life. Maybe I will run somewhere or dig in a cave. My brain develops a scenario and I somehow will act according to it.
That's how a threat works. A calm and positive version of the same scenario causes a yawn: all is well, tomorrow we will understand what is going on, tomorrow might be worse, though, but I will start to do something tomorrow…
Q: Let's get back to journalism. Can the authorities communicate with people directly without journalists?
A: Of course, direct communication is always more effective. But only if a recipient clearly understands an outgoing signal.
When we speak about marketing, that's where I think everything is fine in this matter. In politics - no, because politics works with imaginary values which are always false.
Let's be frank: politics in any country is a fiction that relies on some professional politicians. That is in politics’ nature. It is important to understand that a one-sided communication is not communication. It is propaganda, it is something that does not require feedback.
However, I think that: a) propaganda is needed, b) it should be always stupid, primitive and everyone should often laugh at it. If it is not there, it is bad too.
Q: Now in developed countries they talk a lot about happiness - they even create ministries, trying to make a society happier...
A: Happiness is not a collective thing. It is post-Soviet nonsense. Happiness is always a subjective and individual feeling. An index of happiness, which is talked about a lot, and which is in some indicators, is not quite a scientific approach, but, nevertheless, it reflects some societal tendencies.
It does not relate to a current situation, it relates to some cognitive attitudes of people to perceive and evaluate a system of good and evil, bad and good. We know that the same phenomenon can be perceived differently by different nations and cultures.
We, in fact, have not yet decided on how to assess the nation’s happiness. Our major assessments, as I said earlier, are shaped by the 19th-century classical Ukrainian literature which does not withstand any criticism from a current education curriculum’s foundations.
Therefore, we are now in a state of a formation of some new scales to measure happiness. We look at Europeans - they have their own understanding of happiness. We look at Americans - they have another. But where are we between them? Where is real happiness there?
We are a kurkul (a wealthy peasant) nation. We need more happiness, in our two full hands, so that we can tightly push it into our pockets and if it is American’s or someone’s else, it is not important, we will sort it out later.
We will gather and divide it equally and democratically among all Ukrainian people and everyone will get its own piece of happiness. Like in ‘Stalker’ by Strugatsky, where happiness is free to all and no one will go away offended not having it - this is a human dream. I repeat, happiness is an individual thing.
Q: So, collective happiness is unachievable?
A: Collectively happiness arises because of mutual encouragement. Such a phenomenon exists also. When you and I have a Thesaurus and a common vocabulary of social communications, where we understand not just about good and evil, but where there is some kind of quasi-religious system of explanations what is happening around us, we encourage and comfort each other through this system of communication. Together we are happy as a society, a community, a nation and people. And we are cool because we talk in similar terminology and explain each other how happy we are in the same way.
This is probably the most important thing, because subjective happiness comes not only from some endorphins or hormones. In a social dimension, it comes from an explanation of your neighbour or a person you trust to you that you are happy.
After all, many people who visit Ukraine say: ‘You live here in a paradise, do you realize what is happening in the world at all?" And we answer: "Okay, we have here a betrayal and a catastrophe. And what do you understand about our unhappiness and misery? Relax with your happiness, keep it for yourself and do not disturb us in our suffering’.
Q: You know, it's true. My feeling after traveling around Europe is that Ukraine is the best country to live in.
A: Yes, but national masochism has not been canceled yet. People want to suffer so much.
Q: What kind of a psychotype do we have as a nation? Would you please identify?
A: Well, most of the Ukrainian songs start with the word ‘Oh”. It means trouble, sadness, sorrow, mourning, regret and unhappiness. What other diagnosis do you need culturally? This has been historically defined.
But at the same time, this ‘Oh’ unites us. I believe that this is a get-together point for the Ukrainian nation and it is quite effective. Because, first of all, it is not a fiction, a lot of the Ukrainian sufferings were real and dramatic. It is codified in art, literature and culture and served as a formative element for the future behaviour. What does this mean? It means that ‘Oh’ will last forever – until our people get bored with it.
Q: But someone should tell people that not everything is 'Oh,' that not everything is as bad as it seems?
A: What for? If people want to moan, let them moan. We live in a free country. It is impossible to order them to do something else – this will be totalitarianism, it was like that under communism. If people want to cry, let them cry...
Q: As for me, you have quite a paradoxical view of life…
Why paradoxical? It just reflects what life is now. This is a pure social realism, I describe life in its own terms. Ukrainian reality is not bad or good. It is not a dead-end, it is a certain stage of a growth that we are at. It will pass, there is nothing dramatic here.
Q: Is the role of a national language important for a state's development or not?
A: A country and a state, a society and its people are like guinea pigs and the sea, which are absolutely different things. For a state, its administrative apparatus, for the administration, for the economy and issues of oil, gas, coal and other basic needs’ supply a question of a national language has no importance at all. But it is important for the efficiency of communication within a country because society needs to stay in a common language paradigm.
In this sense, a national language, I think, is a very important and necessary topic, but for the country and its people, not for a state. A country needs a national language - because there must be a codification system of a verbal signal.
Maryna Synhaivska, Tallinn-Kyiv
Photos from Oleg Pokalchuk's archive
Photos from Oleg Pokalchuk's archive