Last Saturday in the morning the traditional venue of Kherson Euromaidan – the Liberty Square – was occupied by ideological adversaries of EU integration, local cell of the Communist Party of Ukraine. About 15 Communists decided to organize a flash mob, dedicated to Stalin’s birthday and in such a way thank the “chief” for signing the edict on creation of Kherson Oblast almost 70 years ago (incidentally, the anniversary will be celebrated on a state level in 2014). The activists were holding a long poster with the words “Happy Birthday, Comrade Stalin! Thank you for the Kherson Oblast.” The action did not get any support of the residents of the city. In fact, the communists stood for several hours on their own and only several elderly people came to the red tent for propaganda waste. Nonetheless, the event evoked a discussion in social media and local media websites.
Why haven’t we learned to give a proper assessment to historical events? How should the society respond to this kind of events? Should Kherson residents be proud of the historical fact that links us to this person? The Day asked these questions to Kherson-based historian Ta ras BUKREIEV.
“A considerable part of Ukrainian society is in information prostration. People are unwilling to research themselves, learn the history of their country, and define their prospects for the future,” Bukreiev says. “We often use the notion ‘generation’ – it is 25 years. The consciousness of present-day youth is formed by people who come from the USSR: Komsomol leaders and party activists, professors of that time. They are not teaching communism to students, but their consciousness was shaped under the influence of different ideas. The same refers to school teachers. In fact, this is a huge problem, especially for southern and eastern Ukraine. If you look at the political elite, the picture will be the same, both in pro-governmental party, and in the opposition. Current leaders were educated in the USSR as well. Of course, this cannot be applied to all teachers and politicians, but there are a lot of people of this kind. The principles of Soviet socialism have strong root in society, and they prevent us from moving to Europe, which has healthy competition, not total equality. These rudiments have penetrated into all spheres of life. And adherents of communists are actively using this, especially speculating on elderly people. In this situation those who have made conclusions based on history should simply ignore such actions. Mass media and civic organizations should bring to people more counterarguments for such deeds, carry out a broad enlightenment work in society, and hold interesting events, where people would get true information rather than political slogans.
“As for the Kherson Oblast, there indeed was a historical fact when the Soviet information bureau reported in 1944 about liberation of Kherson, calling it an oblast center by mistake. They did not dare to admit the mistake; therefore the documents on creation of a new oblast were signed. Should we be proud of this fact? I doubt this. By this we are developing an inferiority complex and humiliation in ourselves. So to say, the oblast was given to us not owing to some achievements, but as a result of a mistake. What happened has happened, but today we should give a proper assessment of the entire Stalin’s system and his tyranny, not be glorifying these events. The history of Kherson region has many worthier dates and personalities.”