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!