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How to Interpret Ukraines Turmoil

Published: January 1, 2014 (Issue # 1800)


By Michele A. Berdy

: Ukrainian thugs forhire

As Ive been reading thenews andblogs onevents inUkraine, I came across quite afew words that I didnt understand. So I thought alittle primer onUkraine news might be useful.

But as I began tocompile my primer, it turned out tohave alot ofRussian nouns, slang andotherwise, used toinsult people inUkraine. So with apologies:

: Euromaidan. Although (maidan) is asquare, theword refers tostreet protests over then-President Viktor Yanukovychs decision not tosign atrade agreement with theEU.

: Thugs forhire. These are thetough guys intracksuits who act as agents provocateurs. Thename comes fromVadym Titushko, amixed martial artist who was part ofa group that beat up some journalists in2013. During theKiev demonstrations thetitushki were believed tohave been brought inby thegovernment toinstigate violence.

: Stepan Bandera, aleader ofthe Ukrainian nationalist movement. He is admired bysome as afierce protector andadvocate ofUkrainians andtheir state; he is reviled byothers as aNazi collaborator andviolent opponent ofeveryone he considered athreat toUkraine, including Russians, Poles, andJews.

: Banderists, used todescribe theactual historical followers ofBandera andanyone who is perceived as aUkrainian nationalist. Inthe latter sense, today is asynonym forfascist, anti-Russian, nationalist Ukrainian scum. , . (Whoever supports Nazis atBandera-Maidan demonstrations andcalls forfascist regime change is not welcome inRussia). Here - is used as aplay on- in (Euromaidan).

: derogatory term forUkraine, apparently amix of (Ukraine) and (Ukrainian kulaks or rich peasants; slang fora rich, greedy person). Used inphrases such as (That stupid Ukraine hasnt existed fortwo days).

: slang forUkrainian, sometimes derogatory or condescending. Intodays political rhetoric it seems tobe used todescribe abad Ukrainian, i.e., aUkrainian who doesnt support Russia andRussian political positions. Since there isnt aslang word forUkrainians inEnglish, its hard totranslate. , . (All you dumb Ukrainians get out ofdemocratic Ukraine)!

: goons, thugs. Although insome literary contexts can just be ayoung man, incontemporary usage is aguy looking fortrouble, aguy who is part ofa criminal organization, or aguy who is part ofa right-wing, reactionary, criminal group. or (fascist or nationalist goons) were code words foranti-Soviet, fascist youth. TheRussian Foreign Ministry statement included theterm (aggressive young thugs) grouped with (armed fighters fromultra-right-wing, nationalist organizations) todescribe Ukrainian demonstrators.

Im not sure how this rhetoric is going towin thehearts andminds ofRussias Ukrainian neighbors. Remember: (you get more flies with honey, literally a friendly calf nurses ontwo cows).

Michele A. Berdy, aMoscow-based translator andinterpreter, is the author ofThe Russian Words Worth (Glas), acollection ofher columns.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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