Friday, December 03, 2004

Ukrainian national identity

I don’t know where I read it and I think I have seen it in multiple places, but there is the view out there that there really is no such thing as a Ukrainian national identity. I think that this was true before November 21st. I think it no longer is.

You can hear the Ukrainian national anthem down at the square every day. People have learned it that hadn’t known it before. And those who had thought about it before considered the anthem to have been manufactured just to give the people something to sing at official gatherings after independence. But my wife said to me the other day, “Who would’ve thought the words of the anthem would turn out to mean something.” And they do to many Ukrainians now.

A group of young people is standing outside an entrance to the Kyiv metro, where a man is singing the country's national anthem.

Oleg says he learned how to sing the anthem in good Ukrainian only a few days ago, and says he can even play it on his guitar. "Times are changing, and we are also changing," Oleg says. "In these days, our national songs are more dear to us than Western rock music." (RFE/RL)

I think the Ukrainian national identity is being forged down on Independence Square. This may sound like a real overstatement to some because the people on the square are only a small part of the population of Ukraine. But I think they are a significant part and the fact that they have been proselyting their position with kindness, warmth and humor can only serve to win others over.

That is, if the lid doesn't come off.

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