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From chavs to volunteers: Heroes of Ukraine's independence

Author : Albert Tsukrenko

12:15, 1 September 2016
From chavs to volunteers: Heroes of Ukraine's independence

Author : Albert Tsukrenko

Ukraine's popular characters of 1991-2016 include exotic drag queens, incarnation of the crucified Messiah, and "Raspberry Jackets" bandits

12:15, 1 September 2016

Read the original text at Cultprostir.

Twenty-five years is term worthy of debriefing. However, over the last three years in Ukraine, everything fell upside down, and our future is still unclear. So we decided not to sum up and compile a list of social and cultural heroes who, in our opinion, formed and are forming Ukraine.

Gopnik (chav, ned)

Gopnik is a tragic figure. The term "Gopnik" was probably derived from slang term gop-stop, meaning street mugging. In Soviet times, he, on the one hand, embodied a criminal rebellion against the totalitarian state, against the power apparatus. On the other, he served as a "cultural nurse," making grassroots policy of standardization. But the Soviet Union has died, and Gopnik was left an orphan. You can hear chanson, attributive music of Gopniks, in the public transport, see the tracksuits (favorite clothes of Gopniks) worn as casual wear. But Gopnik as a whole, as a special system of social and ethical standards, is marginalized and goes to the past.

Gopnik
Cultprostir

Related: 25 Years of Ukraine's Independence: the main conclusions

Traveling salesman

Traveling salesman goes abroad and comes back, or vice versa. In early 90s, Soviet engineers, teachers, and workers, who have recently hated class of "speculators" (illegal businessmen of the USSR), started their own “buy & sell” activities. Then the majority of residents of the former USSR have got their first experience of capitalist system of economic relations; residents of Ukraine were not an exaption. And many of them were called "chovnykars" (traveling salesmen). Before this, only a narrow caste of the Soviet elite had a chance to go abroad and see what it really was. It was a modest beginning of our integration into Europe.

Traveling salesman post-Soviet countries
Cultprostir

Raspberry Jackets

The difference in material prosperity among citizens was a feature of the socialist system, but it was a mauvais ton to demonstrate it. But after the collapse of the Union, when some people impoverished, while the others became dramatically rich, demonstration of your successful has become a matter of principle. The first marker was fuchsia pink jacket. Today, there is no such universal marker, but the principle does not change. For example, the building of the former Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Pshonka symbolizes the raspberry jacket, limited with some logical margins. Ostentatious wealth (or at least an imitation of success) is an important phenomenon of our national culture. A person with low-pay job buys an extremely expensive smartphone – this is the norm in Ukraine, but it surprises the foreigners.

Raspberry jackets post-Soviet
Cultprostir

Maria Devi Christos

First Ukraine’s charismatic religious leader, I would say, the brightest one. Marina Tsvigun, born in Donetsk, declared herself the new incarnation of the crucified Messiah and founded the White Brotherhood. Maria became a real sex bomb, and she had all the chances to arranged the end of the world in one country. The woman combined pragmatism and cunning of genuine madness.

Maria Devi Christos
Cultprostir

Verka Serduchka

Transvestite Andriy Danylko has been Ukraine’s most popular showman. This fact says not about the high level of tolerance of the Ukrainian, but rather about their naiveté. Television viewers perceived the man in woman's clothing, who masks for rural wedding, as a purely comic format – this man is just kidding. And no one even thought that it might be connected with specific sexual practices. In Europe, Danylko was immediately identified as exotic drag queen.

drag diva Serduchka
Cultprostir

Related: Ukrainian opera singer killed in Donbas: biography of Vasyl Slipak

Victor Yushchenko

Yushchenko was the forerunner and prototype of a new wave of politicians - the pro-Western and civilized ones. Unfortunately, the limited nature of Mr. Yushchenko did not allow him to become what he seemed to be able to - a bold reformer, Ukrainian Saakashvili. Breakaway-man and the biggest disappointment in the political history of independent Ukraine. He was "revolutionary" in a sense of a carnival Orange Revolution of 2004. "12 years ago, the system did not fix any danger for itself. And history has given us, carefree Ukrainians, a ten-year delay.

Victor Yushchenko
Cultprostir

Yulia Tymoshenko

What is the main feature of the Ukrainian political culture? Populism and irresponsibility. The most vivid embodiment of these traits is Yulia Tymoshenko. Why Tymoshenko? Perhaps, she is the most brilliant, convincing, and talented populists. Another Ukraine’s populists have already been unmasked, but not Mrs. Tymoshenko. There was a brief period when falsehood and lies were not perceived organically - everyone remembers how Tymoshenko was met by the Maidan after the shooting of Heaven's Hundred Heroes. But the time has passed, and now her political weight increases again, and now cannot say for sure, whether the peak of her career is in the past or it is still ahead.

Yulia Tymoshenko
Cultprostir

Related: The new “Soviet man” of Ukraine

Viktor Yanukovych

President Yanukovych is a natural fruit of a state constructed by Kuchma; the state, ruled by oligarchs who grew up with the Raspberry Jackets and former "red directors." In such circumstances, the power was bound to go to a representative of the most economically powerful, sassy, and aggressive groups. Gopnik, who got to the main office of a large European country and stole everything that was able to, could not give up power without bloodshed. Moreover, he became the object of a complex geopolitical situation, which forced him to serve the vassal of the neighboring state. Ukrainian Yanukovych showed that the corrupt state can use terror and mass murder of citizens to protect the system.

Viktor Yanukovych
Cultprostir

Man in camouflage

This is a complex and contradictory character: he can be a hero from the volunteer battalion that saved frail Ukrainian statehood in 2014, a fighter of oligarchs’ mercenary army, a down-and-out homeless vagrant from the Kyiv subway, or just an armed bandit. Man in camouflage gives his life for us in the Donbas, controls smuggling, and storms the courts. Such a man is an impersonation of new realities of belligerent Ukraine – a significant independent force the final historical role of which is not defined yet.

Man in camouflage
Cultprostir

Volunteer

In fact, volunteer was the one who “kept” the front on his shoulders during the first months of Russian aggression. In a particular sense, each of us was a volunteer. Now, when the army is dressed and fed, and the war is on the glow mode, the priorities have changed. The main point of focus is reforms, many passionarians took this as volunteers, while being on the civil service. Isn’t it volunteering – work for salaries of the Ministries to implement the reforms in Ukraine? During the last 2.5 years people are waiting for a "reset," but no one resets the state. And people still tend to put high hopes on these "volunteers."

Volunteer Ukraine
Cultprostir

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Related: Ukraine: we should learn to love it

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