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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

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



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 meetings every Tuesday night 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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