UKRAINE STILL ALIVE


Elections in Ukraine — a public brain washing

A bunch of election leaflets for the coming election campaign falls out of the mailbox. Good—hearted, solid Slavic faces are smiling at you and promising democracy for Ukraine, Ukrainian unity, a bright future, inciting you to think about your children, do not vote for them, they are cheaters, vote for the Against Everyone Else Party and so forth.

On the whole, the same six phrases are recycled by thirty—two political parties. The only slogan that is truly original is on the 31st everyone votes for number 31! Anyway, you are not interested in the campaign, are you? Fortunately the campaign is shorter this time, a public brainwashing only fifty days long. Otherwise everyone would be bored to death. Oh, look at this, at last an interesting leaflet. You take out a nice letter from an envelope only to find out that if you do not vote for the Green Party you will be committing treason.

And not only that, your very sick brother Ivan will die because this is the one and only party that can get him the medical care he needs. So, the medical reports of patients have become public? But you are interested in different things. You wore the same fifteen centimetre—long skirt that you are wearing today twice last month, and you won’t be able to boast about it in front of your classmates anymore. You would probably become interested in the campaign if you learned that the election campaign’s weekly expenses have risen to 4 million dollars. Money is all that counts in Ukraine. To increase influence and wealth some people are even willing to pay 5 million dollars to a political party to be well placed as candidates. It’s a shame that you are not a pensioner Dnipropetrovsk because you might be paid your pension, or even two. Or a director of a psychiatric clinic: you could earn more if the number of your patients went up by 500 patient—voters in one week.

These are convincing methods. In Kiev, where you are studying, a party that presents itself as new and independent is organising delightful concerts of major rock stars for three hundred thousand people on European Square. Never mind that this party has no chance of making it into parliament. What matters is that it supports President Kuchma, meaning that all its expenses turn immediately into gains. All the young votes will be marginalised, and no one is left to vote against corruption. It is 7:15 already, high time to pack your things for school. If you could only clone yourself as the parties do, someone else could go for you, and you could go and take a walk down Khreschatyk and show off your new shoes.

Your father is going to stay home and watch T.V. again. A solution has been found for his voting dilemma: one of the parties was recommended to all the employees of the factory he works in, and everyone will vote for it. Pieces of news are deliberately confused with electioneering. An equitable distribution of broadcasting time is being provided for the candidates according to their campaign investments. It was best used by the Women for the Future, who are led by a gracious leader resembling a Jehovah’s Witness. According to their election slogans, they defend the rights of the weak and powerless, who cry out in gratitude. A poor woman was run over in the street? If you vote for them this will never happen again.

Dad is zapping the remote and shaking his fist at the first channel that mostly broadcasts in Ukrainian. A silly language. They also require you to use it at university but you aren’t able to force more than four sentences out of your mouth. The teachers have been trying hard to learn it since they can be dismissed for the use of Russian. If you spoke it at home or among your friends, everyone would think you are crazy, and you would just make yourself seem ridiculous. In the end you communicate neither in Russian nor in Ukrainian, but in Surzhik, a spoken, individually tailored mixture of the two languages. Our united Ukraine, the beloved country, which all would leave if they had the means to. But not everybody can flee, and the motherland of the Slavs is not going to bleed out its population in the near future. On top of that, pro—Russian blocks are still arguing about the language that was spoken in Kyivan Rus’ a thousand years ago, and pathetically continue to claim that the Russian minority is discriminated against, because no new Russian schools are being opened.

Anyway, they claim, all of Ukraine’s difficulties arose out of refusing to orient its foreign and economic policy towards its closest brothers and allies, Russia and Belarus. But don’t forget to put on your make—up, pack the cosmetic powder, the nail—varnish and the mirror. Take all these things with you to pass away the time at your lessons, held daily from eight to two. And now you are there, jumping over the mosaic of trampled cockroaches. Flirting with the guards at the entrance and as you leave the building in the afternoon, they check your student ID because they are tough guys, and have a feeling of responsibility. You drag yourself to the metro station where you will spend the afternoon giving out leaflets. Wearing a colourful sports jacket and standing on narrow high heels, you are charming although your face is as usual filled with disinterest and disgust. But who knows, your beauty might shock a wealthy businessman passing by, and your one and only dream of marrying a rich man may indeed come true. You are a student of Taras Shevchenko University, and they have taught you to wait patiently.

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