The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersRussian Reaction Blog
Chalenko's Ukraine
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Alexander Chalenko.

There are many forms of Ukrainian identity. The svidomy believe that the Ukraine is a purely autochthonous entity, whose “Russian” achievements were stolen by Muscovy (Richard Sakwa, more politely, calls them “monists”). There are “pluralists” who believe that they share a common cultural and genetic ancestry with Russia and Belorussia in the medieval Rus state, which partially translates into integrationist sentiments. But there are also those who believe that the Ukraine is simply one particular local expression of Russianism. The latter were never anywhere near the majority on the ground, and after 2014, they are probably in the low single digits (e.g. as proxied by the percentage of Ukrainian citizens who now say they support union with Russia: Once around 15%-20%, now down to 4%). However, these people do exist, and some of them are willing to make the case publicly.

One example is Alexander Chalenko, a journalist who fled the Ukraine in 2014 ahead of politicized charges after the Maidan. Having been reasonably influential at one point – he has apparently hobnobbed with Poroshenko and several other Ukrainian bigwigs on at least a few occasions – he now lives in Moscow and writes columns for the Ukraina.ru project. This is despite the fact that he is an ethnic Ukrainian himself; as he said, his grandparents had “Ukrainian” stamped onto their passports.

To the extent that he identifies with his Ukrainian roots, he prefers to use the term “South Russian.” Even so, he is not quite a classical Russian nationalist either – or at least, not what is often associated with Russian nationalism. More on that later.

Anyhow, as part of my (strategically questionable?) project to acquaint Anglophones with actually-existing-Russian-nationalism beyond the Wikipedia entry on Foundations of Geopolitics, here is a detailed breakdown of Chalenko’s main theses/points:

1. Difference between Russians and Ukrainians? He recounts having an argument with a svidomy, in which he challenged his interlocutor to name one concrete difference between Russians and Ukrainians. After pondering, the svidomy replied, “The Ukrainians fry their potatoes in salo.”

2. The War in Donbass: Obviously, he said a lot about this, but it can be summarized thus:

  • Smol brain: Russian-Ukrainian war [standard Western/Kiev narrative]
  • Normal brain: Ukrainian civil war [after all, 80% of LDNR combatants even in 2014 were Ukrainian citizens]
  • Galaxy brain: Russian civil war

(Someone should make this into a meme).

3. Little Russia is a peasant culture. But for that matter, so is Great Russia. In fact, he repeatedly stresses the viewpoint that the foundation of the Russian nation was only laid c.1800, above all by Alexander Pushkin. Moreover, Chalenko – despite his personal anti-Semitism – argues that this nation was only actualized under Stalin, as he defined a nation through urbanization, mass literacy, and mass culture, not ethnicity. Incidentally, he is obviously, he is a civic nationalist, not an ethnonationalist.

(While I don’t disagree with this 100%, I disagree more than I agree. I am very receptive to Azar Gat’s arguments that nations are not exclusively modern constructs, and consider the Russian nation to have emerged within the medieval Russian state. Certainly the people who wrote the chronicles wrote of the “Russian lands” as an ethnocultural whole, and there was at least the expectation that individual principalities owed some degree of loyalty to it. And while I am not into “hard” racialism, there do seem to be hard limits to the ethnic churn a nation can undergo before it phase transitions into something else. These are not fringe positions, and there was in fact plenty of both agreement and disagreement with Chalenko on that score from the other nationalists, conservatives, etc. assembled in the room. However, this does demonstrate the diversity of views that actually exist within the Russian nationalism.)

3. Vyshivanka. He dislikes both the Ukrainian vyshivanka and the Russian kosovorotka (incidentally, these are basically the same thing). And indeed made light fun of Kholmogorov and Dugin for their habit of indulging them. But note that the vyshivanka has only become a national symbol in the Ukraine, not in Russia. This sort of cultural parochialism doesn’t happen in real European countries. While I do like the aesthetics of the vyshivanka/kosovorotka, and wouldn’t even mind wearing one myself – why should the entire world dress like 19th century Brits? – the people who strut about in them are regarded as a bit weird in Russia. Not so in the Ukraine.

4. Galician separatism FTW! Russian nationalists used to have some counterintuitively nice relationships with Galician neo-Habsburgists, whose ambitions are largely limited to their own small shire. Not with Banderists, because Banderists want a *unitary* fascist Ukraine from the Carpathians to the Don – a project that became increasingly realistic after the Orange Revolution in 2004, and reached fruition a decade later. Neo-Habsburg larpers were good allies of convenience because they also want to dismantle the Ukrainian entity so as to not to have to associate with Donbass sovoks and assorted riffraff. I suspect that Chalenko would get along with our AP. Obviously that became irrelevant after 2014, since that was when getting the whole pie (or almost all of it, with the exception of Crimea and the Donbass) became possible and even probable.

5. Russia is a European nation. This also translates into Europhilia: He considers Russian propaganda against Europe and European values (e.g. “eurogays”) to be stupid and embarassing; village behavior. However, by dint of that same fact, Russia should act as the equals of the other European nations, informing the “Western partners” that Russia will be reunited regardless of their opinions on the matter. So I suppose you can interpret this post as spreading the message. 🙂 Indeed, he frames modern Russian irredentism as a classically European phenomenon, often comparing it to the Risorgimento and other 19th century “springtimes of peoples.” Quote: “You Russians don’t have the right to abandon us South Russians.

6. You might like Europe, but Europe doesn’t much like you. This was my question/criticism addressed to him (1:48:30 on the video).

What to do about the ensuing total Western sanctions when he sends Russian tanks to Kiev?

There wasn’t, unfortunately, a clear answer to that question. Or how to resolve the contradiction between these geopolitical ambitions and maintaining a firm European orientation. (Like many liberal Russian nationalists, he is dismissive of China).

7. Complaints:

(a) Russia doesn’t do enough to fund/promote soft power, so things like the Ukraine debacle keep happening over and over again. This is something I have written much about myself and I see no need to repeat them again.

(b) The “authoritarian-bureaucratic system” that rules Russia (his words – but pretty accurate) isn’t responsive. Many Ukrainian political refugees have had difficulties getting Russian passports, and a few were even deported (e.g. Marina Menshikova; Olena Boyko would be a more recent example).

8. Russian passports in Donbass? One revelation for me was that there was some limited support within the Presidential Administration for handing out Russian passports en masse to LDNR residents in 2015, but it was vetoed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as it would violate Minsk II.

However, this idea is apparently getting resurrected. People close to Donbass affairs have been semi-publicly hinting at it for a few months, but with Chalenko also mentioning it, and now the Ukrainian media crawling all over it in the past days, my strong suspicion that this is for real. Now there were some fears in these circles that the kremlins may have wanted to postpone it again, in order to attempt a “reset” once Zelensky takes over from Poroshenko. However, a couple of days ago, Zelensky went on record against providing any special status to the LDNR or amnesty for the rebel leaders. This is completely incompatible with Minsk II, so there’s an excellent change that mass Russian passportization – the model used in Transnitria – really will go ahead this summer.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Nationalism, Russia, Svidomy, The AK, Ukraine, War in Donbass 
Hide 11 CommentsLeave a Comment
11 Comments to "Chalenko's Ukraine"
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. Mr. Hack says:

    Neo-Habsburg larpers were good allies of convenience because they also want to dismantle the Ukrainian entity so as to not to have to associate with Donbass sovoks and assorted riffraff. I suspect that Chalenko would get along with our AP. Obviously that became irrelevant after 2014, since that was when getting the whole pie (or almost all of it, with the exception of Crimea and the Donbass) became possible and even probable.

    I don’t think that AP’s personal attachments to a historical memory of the Habsburg domain translates directly into any sort of recreation of this distant memory of the multi-ethnic state? At best, I think that AP’s aspirations for Ukraine are to be a part of the EU and a larger reconstituted Visegrad group. I really question how you could suggest that AP would get along in a cohesive fashion with Chalenko? I think that you have AP mixed up with the Mad Bohemian, Budvar? 🙂

    • Replies: @AP
  2. Karlin are the male outfits in this video considered Vyshivanka/Kosovoratka? They lack the slavic/scandinavian style embroidery, but the cut is quite similar.

    Don’t tell me there is also movement to restore a old slavic sartorial trends in the modern era? Is it primarily a male thing or are there even more women dressing like the women in the video as well.

  3. As for the ‘Europe doesn’t like you’ question, I think we’ll find that the current European hostility to Russia will be shortlived. Assuming we don’t go full blackpill timeline, the necessity of Russia as an economic partner coupled with the rise of pragmatic, if not nationalist, parties in Europe should result in gradually restored relations.

    China should never be dismissed, and it is rather foolish of Russian nationalists and liberals to do so. Nonetheless Russia should still be wary of Sinophilia – China is an extraordinarily pragmatic country, and illusions of strong friendships between ethnically and culturally distinct countries are dangerous.

    If at some point in the future, Russia can absorb its ethnic territories in Ukraine, Belarus and North Kazakhstan, it will be in a perfect position geographically, economically, and demographically to be the bridge between Europe and China, playing a balancing act rather than aligning to one side.

    On a side note, critiques of Ukraine’s existence that I learned on this blog have landed me a date with a Ukrainian Svidomist, so thank you Anatoly.

    • Agree: Adam, Denis
    • LOL: Anatoly Karlin
  4. AP says:

    But note that the vyshivanka has only become a national symbol in the Ukraine, not in Russia. This sort of cultural parochialism doesn’t happen in real European countries.

    So Bavaria isn’t (part of a) real European country?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/world/europe/germany-bavaria-dirndl-lederhosen.html

    Bavarian Millennials Embrace Tradition (Dirndls, Lederhosen and All)

    MUNICH — Hip-hop blared from oversize speakers. Half-finished beer glasses teetered precariously along the bar, and a scrum of teenage bodies writhed on the dimly lit dance floor. It was a regular night out in hip urban Munich.

    And everyone was in 19th-century Alpine peasant dress.

    In Bavaria in 2018, tradition is trendy and custom is cool. Bavarian teenagers, who once wore jeans and T-shirts in Oktoberfest season, are going clubbing in dirndl and lederhosen.

    “Ten years ago, we rarely saw a dirndl in the disco,” said Dierk Beyer, a manager at Neuraum, a popular nightclub near the site of the Oktoberfest. “Now it’s normal.”

    Neo-Habsburg larpers were good allies of convenience because they also want to dismantle the Ukrainian entity so as to not to have to associate with Donbass sovoks and assorted riffraff. I suspect that Chalenko would get along with our AP.

    I’ll repeat my other comment:

    It isn’t larping, because Galicia was a part of Hapsburg-ruled Austria for about 140 years, double the amount of time that the USSR even existed.

    If Yanukovich had managed to consolidate his rule and integrate Ukraine firmly into Moscow’s orbit, Western Ukrainian separatism was an understandable positon to take. Salavage what one can. It would have more quickly joined EU and NATO than entire Ukraine can, and would have been a Visegrad nation of about 10 million people (Galicia + Volyn + Transcarpathia + Bukovyna). Lack of oligarchs, proximity ot the West, and better regional governance (at least in Galicia, which would dominate and set the pace) suggests that this region would have seen really fast economic growth under such circumstances.

    But of course the central Ukrainians joined their western brothers in overthrowing Yanukovich, making all of this unnecessary.

  5. AP says:
    @Mr. Hack

    At best, I think that AP’s aspirations for Ukraine are to be a part of the EU and a larger reconstituted Visegrad group

    My attitude towards EU is the same as that of Visegrad people towards EU. Good for Ukraine to join, while thwarting stupid aspects of it. Ultimately I see some sort of alliance/union with Visegrad and Baltics to be more important than with EU as a whole. In the long run the EU may fade away.

    I really question how you could suggest that AP would get along in a cohesive fashion with Chalenko?

    When I lived in Moscow I got along with everyone, including Russian nationalists (they were kind of deferential actually), some of Zyuganov’s relatives (at a birthday party one of them told me some funny stories about his American road trip to Miami), I’d probably have an interesting conversation with this Chalenko guy.

    AK: Post slightly edited on AP’s request to remove overly specific personal information.

  6. @AP

    So Bavaria isn’t (part of a) real European country?

    You said it! 🙂 Not a real European country. So politicians can parade in such outfits as an expression of regional identity, without it looking too weird.

    It isn’t larping, because Galicia was a part of Hapsburg-ruled Austria for about 140 years, double the amount of time that the USSR even existed.

    There’s nothing wrong with larping. For instance, isn’t recreationism essentially just larping?

    It is combining politics with larping that is the weird combination, at least so far as normal, self-confident states tend to be concerned.

    If Yanukovich had managed to consolidate his rule and integrate Ukraine firmly into Moscow’s orbit, Western Ukrainian separatism was an understandable positon to take. Salavage what one can.

    Exactly. Vast majority of Russian nationalists would have been perfectly fine with that, and supported our Galician brothers’ aspirations.

    When I lived in Moscow I got along with everyone, including Russian nationalists (they were kind of deferential actually)…

    I.e., polite and civilized.

  7. Blissex says:

    This is a tale of intra-russian strife, but from another point of view the big issue is that the Ukraine as it is today, the result of many rerdrawings of boundaries, is arguably a multinational state, with the west nostalgic about the polish-lithuanian empire, and the east being culturally russian. It is a long story: for example around 1900 the japanese government was financing polish-lithuanian restoration movements in order to cause trouble for the czarist empire. A lot of is made of the Bandera alliance with the nazis, but really it was not because they were nazis too, they were polish-lithuanian empire nostalgics who happened to ally with the devil they did not know.
    My impression is that there are cultural differences between the bileorussian, russian ukrainian, and “core” russian areas, but they are as small or smaller as between northern and southern french, east or west germans. My impression is that they are way smaller than those between Germany and Austria: mainly because Austria had been the core of an independent empire for a long time, and Ukraine has not been that.

    • Replies: @melanf
  8. anon[993] • Disclaimer says:

    Little Russia is a peasant culture. But for that matter, so is Great Russia

    nothing wrong with that

    You might like Europe, but Europe doesn’t much like you.

    I suspect Europeans and Americans like Russians and Ukrainians much more than our toady and treasonous politicians would like to believe. as an American of European origin, who do I have more in common with – a white Ukrainian or Russian or a central american mestizo? not even close

    btw, Ukraine seems to have many beautiful women

  9. @AP

    Isn’t this just more cargo cultism? Being ruled by a Hapsburg doesn’t make you an Austrian. Worshipping the West with sufficient zeal doesn’t magically make you function like them.

    • Replies: @AP
  10. melanf says:
    @Blissex

    with the west nostalgic about the polish-lithuanian empire

    Read about the Volyn massacre

  11. AP says:
    @Duke of Qin

    Being ruled by a Hapsburg doesn’t make you an Austrian.

    140 years of Hapsburg rule meant fundamental cultural changes in that region, reflected in politics (Galicia only region not dominated by oligarch parties, and its parties resemble ones in places like Poland and Hungary), lifestyle, architecture, etc.. Compare Hong Kong Chinese to mainland Chinese.

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - If you are new to my work, *start here*. If you liked this post, and want me to produce more such content, consider *donating*.


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Anatoly Karlin Comments via RSS