Year XV, Issue 1–2 (159–160)

February 2011
Vsevolod Rechytskyi. The Simple Values of Constitutionalism
Oleksandr Irvanets. A Ballad About a Window
Andrei Dynko. The Belorusian Tiananmen
Andrii Portnov. The New Eastern Europe as Russia’s Near Abroad
Mykola Riabchuk. Beyond Resentment
Olena Betlii. The Final Issue
Yarolsav Hrytsak. The Holocaust and the Holodomor as Challenges to Collective Memory
Discussion:
   Yuri Shapoval.On Accepting and Knowing
   Maria Dmytrieva. Femen on a Background of Breasts
Tamara Zlobina. Dressing up Feminine as Successful Art Strategy
Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta. The Artist in the Agora
Lesia Prokopenko. The Political Economy of Ukrainian Art
Marko Robert Stech. A Broad Panorama of Small Prose
Vasyl Makhno. Colombian Winter
Vitalii Ponomariov. Calling out the Name
Eleonora Solovei. A Calm and Upright Spirit
Mariana Musii. Art Studies in the Anthropological Mode
Ivan Dziuba, Myroslav Marynovych, Ievhen Sverstiuk, Leonid Pliushch, Olha Kocherha, Olia Hnatiuk, and Halyna Burlaka. In memory of Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska

 

Summary

The January-February issue of Krytyka opens with an article by Vsevolod Rechytskyi on “The Simple Values of Constitutionalism” where the author examines the constitutional process of independent Ukraine and especially the flaws that underlie it and suggests some fundamental changes that would make it more organic and similar to Western practice. “A Ballad About a Window,” a poem by Oleksandr Irvanets, may be taken as a literary commentary on the preceding. In “The Belorusian Tiananmen” the Belorusian opposition journalist Andrei Dynko discusses the events in Minsk during the Presidential elections of last December and the light they cast on the Lukashenko regime. 

The Kyiv historian Andrii Portnov devotes his article on “The New Eastern Europe as Russia’s Near Abroad” to the results of Europe’s appeasement of Russia’s “soft” expansionism, specifically its “gas war” and its projection of the notion of “The Russian World (russkiy mir).” A major result of this is the transformation of Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus into a buffer zone of Russian influence, which the Kremlin authorities use both for applying external, international pressure and for solidifying their internal authoritarian tendencies – as well as a convenient mechanism for contrasting this “chaotic and unpredictable” “near abroad” with Russia’s own “stability.” In “Beyond Resentment,” a review of Vasyl Kuchabsky’s Western Ukraine in Conflict with Poland and Bolshevism, 1918–1923, published by the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS), Mykola Riabchuk discusses the historical antecedents of today’s state of affairs as he addresses the western indifference in the wake of WW I to the independence of Russia’s former colonies, which in the Ukrainian case was compounded by the political inexperience and clumsiness of Ukraine’s leadership. The subject of Ukrainian and European, as well as Ukrainian-Polish relations is also discussed in Olena Betlii’s “The Final Issue” which is devoted to the last, 2010, issue of the Zeszyty historyczne originally founded by Jerzy Giedroyc.

In “The Holocaust and the Holodomor as Challenges to Collective Memory” the Lviv historian Yarolsav Hrytsak does not set out to compare these genocides or even to question whether such comparisons are useful, but instead focuses on the way in which both came to be juxtaposed as intellectual and ideological constructs and what this says about historical memory in Ukraine and in other countries. His basic question devolves on whether Ukraine, Russia and Europe share at this time a common memory about both Hitlerite and Stalinist terror. His short answer is no, they do not. A commentary by Yuri Shapoval, “On Accepting and Knowing,” which concludes a discussion held on the pages of Krytyka (see Nos. 3–5, 5–6, 9–10 and 11–12 for 2010) on Ukrainian attitudes toward the ideological legacy of the OUN, the UPA and Stepan Bandera, may also serve as an illustration of Hrytsak’s argument.

In “Femen on a Background of Breasts” the Kyiv sociolinguist Maria Dmytrieva takes sharp issue with the article by Maria Maierchyk and Olha Plakhotnik, “Radical Femen and the New Women’s Activism” (Krytyka, No. 11–12, 2010) which had attempted to see these activists as true feminists. This oposition between “true” and “simulated” feminist discourse is also examined by Tamara Zlobina in her “Dressing up Feminine as Successful Art Strategy” which focuses on the rhetoric and ideology of Maria Shubina and Alevtyna Kakhidze, both representing contemporary Ukrainian art, but differing in that Shubina expresses expectations of women that are characteristic of Ukrainian society while Kakhidze turns these expectations upside down. Kyiv art critics Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta (“The Artist in the Agora”) and Lesia Prokopenko (“The Political Economy of Ukrainian Art”) look at the way political topics are presented in Ukrainian art and the Ukrainian art market. In “Art Studies in the Anthropological Mode” Mariana Musii examines the art of Matvii Vaisberg and provides examples of his work.

In “A Broad Panorama of Small Prose” Marko Robert Stech of CIUS, drawing on his own experience as editor of an anthology of Ukrainian small prose in translation, ponders the question of what are anthologies, as indeed also questions as to what is “Ukrainian” and “contemporary” and in the process compares such younger writers as Oleh Lysheha, Serhii Zhadan and Yuri Izdryk with such older ones as Ihor Kostetsky, Emma Andijevska and Yuriy Tarnawsky.

The issue concludes with “Colombian Winter” by Vasyl Makhno, which records his impressions of the poetry festival at the city of Medellin (more famous for its drug cartel), and Vitalii Ponomariov’s “Calling out the Name” which recount the fate of his family during the Soviet period as well as with reminiscences of the recently deceased Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska (1931–2011) which is introduced by Eleonora Solovei (“A Calm and Upright Spirit”) and includes pieces by her contemporaries and fellow dissidents Ivan Dziuba, Myroslav Marynovych, Ievhen Sverstiuk, Leonid Pliushch as well as scholars Olha Kocherha, Olia Hnatiuk, and Halyna Burlaka; the whole is capped by two archival texts of Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska (commented and annotated by Stepan Zakharkin ): “An Answer to Critics” which relates to her defense of her subsequently banned dissertation Sketches on the Poetics of Taras Shevchenko, and her talk (dating from the late 1980s), “A Dialogue among the Writers of the Sixties” (posted on our web-site: www.krytyka.com)/

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