Kategoriarkiv: General knowledge

The long road to democracy and freedom

In view of current unending events in Ukraine’s eastern regions, I thought it would be fun to tell about one of the Ukrainian leaders, who happened to be the author of the first modern European Constitution. Pylyp Orlyk was a Hetman-in-exhile who devoted his life to establishing an independent Ukrainian-Zaporozhian state. He sided with the Swedish king Karl XII in order to free Ukraine from the constant attacks of its Eastern neighbor, Muscovy.

The Agreements and Constitutions of Laws and Freedoms of the Zaporizian Host  was the first of its kind as it clearly separated the legislative, executive and judicial branches of power in a state. In addition to delineating the clear limits on the executive powers of a Hetman (Head of state) this Constitution also established a democratically elected Cossack parliament called the General Council.


Peace and equal right to all!


The melting pot

Ukraine is wonderfully multiethnic, multinational, multilingual and multicultural, which is not at all strange, given her central location between the East and the West. This location, unfortunately, has ofter been the source of trouble for Ukraine and her people. Invaded by Mongol-Tatar, Polish & Lithuanian, Russian, Turkish, French, Swedish, German, you name it!, armies, it’s no wonder there is no such thing as a ”pure” Ukrainian ethnicity. Nevertheless, 78% of the population consider themselves to be Ukrainians, while Russians, Belarusians, Moldovans, Poles, Crimean Tatars, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Jews comprising the main minority groups. All in all there are over 100 nationalities (ethnicities) represented in Ukraine, all living in comparative harmony, intermarrying, having lovely children and trying to make a living in the not so easy economic situation.

Being the result of such intermixing myself (Ukrainian-Polish-Jewish), I have always considered Ukrainians to be open-minded and accepting of other cultures, and I have luckily never encountered any events that would convince me otherwise. That said, I do realize Ukraine is not perfect and there are definitely idiots (as there are in every country), which make life unpleasant for those looking/acting/talking differently, and such acts should not be tolerated. I believe in treating people with respect until their attitude or actions tell me otherwise. The color of their skin or the language they speak, or the gods they pray to, have very little influence on my opinion of them. Their behavior and actions do.

Recent events in Ukraine, and especially the Russian involvement in the armed conflict currently happening in some parts of eastern Ukraine, have forced many of Ukraine nationals to reevaluate their understanding of who they are or wish to be. The result is an impressive upswing in the national idea with many forgotten or disregarded symbols getting a second life. This national idea is generally aimed at promoting all things Ukrainian, be it the language, the culture, the manufacturing and production capabilities, inventions, etc. It is NOT aimed at oppressing other cultures or languages, nor at diminishing any rights of the minorities in Ukraine. I find it important to state, that no matter how much the Russian propaganda might claim it,  there have never been any problems for Russian-speakers in Ukraine. Most Ukrainians are both fluent in Russian and still use it daily, myself included. Most of us believe that knowing more than one language is an advantage, and it is therefore both sad and mind boggling to see how far some Russian-speakers are willing to go just to avoid learning Ukrainian. The results of such narrow-mindedness have been all over the news for the past 12 months, with no end in sight…

I believe in happy endings, and I know Ukraine will come out stronger and more united in the end. And we will build a harmonious, just society, where everyone will feel welcome, where everyone can contribute and feel good about it. I know, that much we can.

Cheers, and may peace and inspiration be with you!

In the heart of Europe

Did you know that Ukraine is the largest country in Europe? It is actually larger than France and Sweden! (And no, Russia is not a European country, perhaps slightly geographically, but no). Ukrainian capital is Kyiv (the correct official spelling), but many still only know it as Kiev (I know, people need time to learn, it’s not like it’s been 23 years since the spelling was corrected, oh, wait…)

The official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian (no, it’s not the same as Russian, sorry to disappoint, but it is beautiful, melodious and incredibly hard to learn, just ask any of the Russian-speakers born and raised in Ukraine…)

Kyiv is an ancient city with a very exciting history stretching for almost 1600 years. It is lusciously green, romantic and divided in two by the fourth longest river in Europe, Dnipro (aka Dnieper). It is said to have been established by three handsome guys and their beautiful sister from Scandinavia, and I can really see why they chose this spot!

I will round off for now and I promise to keep my anti-Russian rants to a minimum (although who can blame me, really?)

Cheers, may peace be with you!