The Wild-Wild West

This letter was printed in the #10/2014 international paper edition of Argumenty i Facty in Russian at the time when the Second Maidan was about to turn violent. It presents an interesting background view on the situation from a perspective of a person living in Kiev. Here is an English translation of the letter:


If someone says Ukraine nowadays, a word combination “West-East” is always attached to it.

I’ve lived in Kiev centre for 22 years. When I was 6, I for the first time went to the “west” with my parents – to Lvov, and asked in a shop there to sell me a bun. The female seller demonstratively didn’t hear me, as if I was speaking Chinese. A granny from the queue called me for “little moskal” (translator note: the term “moskal” is used by Western Ukrainian about all Easter Ukrainians and Russians and has the same connotation as British “Frogs” with regards to French of Mexican “Greengos” with regard to Americans). My mother, blushing brokenly translated my request to Ukrainian, and I got my bun after all, while at the same time taking away the feeling of a united and friendly Motherland.

Ukraine adjusted itself to its “wild-wild west” since 1939, the moment when the Western territories were officially ascended into USSR. “Western super race” dictates to the “grey central-eastern majority” (which in fact feeds it!) its rules and conditions, which became especially starkly apparent during Euromaidan. Over the course of a few months Westerners have defecated one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It’s doubtful if they’d allowed to pee in the yards of the “central houses” of Lvov.

In the Western Ukraine, the inter-national strife and fights were even mother ruthless than in the Baltics. It’s especially remarkable that the “central Kievans” were repressed there even with more passion than, for example, Moscovites – only because in the Westerners’ view we lived in “undeserved chocolate” (translator note: “privilege”). All my trips to western Ukraine we always conducted in a state of extreme stress.

…Once we go to the ski resort of Jaremch, sent from the central Kiev House of Pioneers – during check in at the hotel we tell the receptionist that “we came from Ivano-Frankovshina” (translator note: the last word written in Ukrainian), so as to be housed without problems. In Kiev University we are forced to study the subject under the name of… “Basics of Ukrainian Nationalism”, which praises Stepan Bandera, and during the exams, the exemplary students are from “the west”.

Already one year ago I was listening to conversations about dividing Ukraine, and though: what nonsense if this? Yes, the west and the east are very different. But how can one imagine my country without the emerald slopes of the Carpathian mountains, the brown taste of Lvov coffee and ascent to the mountain Goverla – the highest point in Ukraine? After having be smoked in the hellish smoke of barricades, built by the westerners in Kiev, I suddenly realised – it’s possible! And quite probable it must be so – so that the westerners would finally realise what they had all these years from the hated by them “overDnieprjanshina”.

For the reference: Lvovsk, Ivano-Frankovsk, Ternopolsk, Volynsk and Rovensk regions, which contain 14% of Ukrainian populations stand for only 8%(!) of the industrial production of the country. Donetsk region alone, having only 10% of the Ukrainian population produces 21% of the industrial products! Therefore all speculations about the west separating from the east are nothing more than speculations. What will they live of? The GDP of the Greater Volyn is only 1.3% of the Ukrain’s GDP. The average salary in the west is the lowest in the country. The experts compare the economic development of the Carpathian soil to that of Zimbabwe! And the Western Ukraine has 7 times lower GDP comparing to that of Belarus, which Western Ukraine is comparable to in terms of population count.

— Oksana Sviridenko


I can add to that from the translator and observer perspective, that Donbass region transferred to the central government 95%-97% of the their income in the form of various taxes – in other words, only 3%-5% stayed in the region and could be used for its development. The main reason for federalisation, in addition to the right to use Russian as mother tongue, was fro the finances to stay in the region in greater proportion. Both requests shot down (literally) by the central government, which is comprised solely of westerners.