In the last 75 years Ukraine has twice dropped out to experience the horrors of the foreign occupation. In 1941 – 1944, on the territory of our state there was the occupation regime of Nazi Germany and Romania. And in 2014, Putin's Russia occupied Crimea and several parts of Donbass. It is true, the Kremlin has vehemently denied such a definition, trying to disprove the existence of Russian occupation’s signs on the Ukrainian territory. However, the efforts of Moscow are useless, the biggest experts of the international law consider the recognition by the world community as the main criterion for the presence /absence of the occupation status for a certain geographical territory. And from this point of view, even though Russia has membership in the UN Security Council and other relevant international institutions, the Kremlin's position looks absolutely losing.
Two years have passed since the beginning of the treacherous annexation of Crimea. On the example of Ukraine cultural life iconic events’ perception by the fascist German and Russian occupants we can try to determine what these two regimes have in common and what are the differences between them.
Misanthropic Nazi occupation forever remained imprinted in the genetic memory of millions of our compatriots with its massive examples of negligent attitude to Ukrainians as the people of the lower class, of unprecedented repression of civilians, of looting and destruction of the economy and cultural values.
From the very beginning of the war Soviet cultural and educational institutions ceased to function in all occupied settlements. Hundreds of thousands of valuable art works, historical relics and unique collections were destroyed or exported from Ukraine to Germany. At the same time, the invaders launched a broad awareness-raising campaign to convince the local population that Hitler is the liberator of Ukraine from the "Judeo-Bolshevik yoke."
Contrasting himself on the background of "godless Bolsheviks’ regime", the German fascist invaders demonstrated loyal attitude to intensification of church life on the occupied territories, as well as give freedom to the foundation of the new parishes.
Under the occupants’ power the cultural life of Ukraine continued. However, these processes are not to be taken as a sign of respect of the representatives of the "superior race" to the spiritual needs of the Ukrainians.
In fact, it was a manifestation of cynical German pragmatism for the maximum weakening of Russia, and receiving favorable attitude from the part of the occupied territories’ population towards their oppressors. Using this policy, Nazi wanted to neutralize the protest movement in the rear as well.
Any steps in the sphere of power’s organization were consistent with the Reich Commissariat "Ukraine", led by the cruel ruler Erich Koch, who was one of the leading ideologues of the German Nazi and Alfred Rosenberg, the Reich Minister of the Occupied Eastern European territories, who made a lot for the practical implementation of the racial theory about the necessity of "living space" conquest by the Germans.
Most often in Ukrainian-language newspapers of that time the authors mentioned about the celebration of Fuhrer’s Birthday on the occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as the Day of the seizure of power, Labor Day (May 1), Ukraine's Liberation Day (22 June 1941), together with the religious holidays.
Flattering the holy feelings of most Ukrainians towards Taras Shevchenko, the German fascist invaders - in the light of their own interests - promoted the celebration of Shevchenko days.
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In urban theaters his plays were staged, the periodicals came out with lengthy editorials and commentaries on the life and work of the outstanding son of the Ukrainian nation.
It is clear that their ideological orientation had to match consistently with the settings of the occupying power. On its order the obliging authors - and often humiliating their national pride - stuck out the negative role of the Russians in the tragic fate of the poet.
However, in this story they hushed the active participation of Russians Vasily Zhukovsky and Peter Sokolov, Karl Briullov (a descendant of French Huguenot immigrants), Pole Mikhail Vielgorsky, German Julia Baranova and the other subjects of the Russian Empire.
From the works of T. Shevchenko they pulled out the phrases, which were interpreted as the evidence of anti-Semitism of the author. In order to control the events commemorating the poet's, their scripts were thoroughly tested for loyalty to the Nazi regime.
As a reference: From the order of the President of Velyka Bahachka District of Poltava region to the village chiefs from March 6, 1942: "The Feast of the anniversary of Taras Shevchenko is to be held not on the 10th and 11th of March, as reported earlier, but on the 9th and the 10th of March 1942. This festival is to be held as a national holiday of liberation of the Ukrainian people. Speakers, who must participate at the festival, are required to come for the consultation to the District Department of Education Inspectorate on the 8th of March this year. If they do not arrive, their performance will not be permitted. "
In its turn, in February-March 2014, Putin's Russia has also "commemorated" the 200th anniversary of Taras Shevchenko’s birth by occupying Crimea and capturing a number of Donbas settlements. People's Artist of the USSR, Hero of Ukraine Ada Rogovtseva was touching when she appealed to the President Putin, urging him not to allow bloodshed. She reminded him that a few years before at a meeting with the representatives of the Ukrainian creative intellectuals, he - seemingly genuinely - was reading the poems of Kobzar. Everything was in vain. It wasn’t possible to get through to the soul and to the heart of this Eastern despotic ruler, who was able to hide hypocritically - until the time came - his great hatred towards everything Ukrainian. In the end, the morbid manic of Putin evolved into tragic - for the two great Slavic peoples - decisions. And it is his personal fault that a lot of blood has been shed. And it is him who is to be blamed that the ground for possible reconciliation between two nations will not appear very soon.
The shameless Russian government does not feel any need for the development of - or at least - maintaining on the occupied territories of the Ukrainian language, culture and creation of proper conditions for the implementation of rights and freedoms of the Ukrainian population. None remained in Crimea out of the 7 Ukrainian schools, which functioned there before the Russian annexation of the peninsula. One after the other, almost all the parishes and churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate were shut down (statistically, as of February 2014 there were 15 of them). The using of the Ukrainian national symbols in Crimea is considered to be a manifestation of extremism and it is punishable under Russian law.
The total control of social networks is being implemented by the Russian regime. Free access to the Ukrainian television and radio programs doesn’t exist anymore. But the Kremlin clearly demonstrated his utter disregard for the Ukrainian culture by banning the celebrations on the occasion of Shevchenko days on the territory of Crimea.
Last year this event was limited to the liturgy in the Cathedral of Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate. The parishioners laid flowers to Taras Shevchenko monument in the center of Simferopol under the supervision of the police and the Federal Security Service. About 50 activists ventured to meet in Gagarin park, where on the outskirts of the city the authorities still allowed them to celebrate the memorable date.
However, even this modest celebration ended in detention of the organizers, who - notwithstanding the situation - decided to deploy the Ukrainian State and National Crimean Tatar flags with slogans "Crimea - is Ukraine."
This year, following the tradition of imperial Russia, the authorities did not allow the pro-Ukrainian activists remind of their existence on the territory of the peninsula. The explanation is that there is still a state of emergency on the territory of Crimea. Which makes it impossible to hold public gatherings. It turns out that the Russian occupants, recognizing the greatness of the figure of the rebel Ukrainian Taras Shevchenko as a symbol of the struggle of Ukrainians for their freedom and independence, even after two years of their domination in the Crimea are afraid of Kobzar even more than the Nazi invaders during the war with the Soviet Union.
Of course, the brain of Russian officials, mutilated by Putin and directives of his propaganda, doesn’t allow them to understand the honorable place Taras Shevchenko’s figure takes in the cultural world. It is difficult for the ignorant to understand what US President John F. Kennedy meant, expressing his admiration for Kobzar: "I am glad that I can add my voice to those who honor the great Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko. We honor his great contribution to the culture, not only Ukrainian - which he loved, and so eloquently described - but also to the world’s one. His works represent a noble part of our historical heritage."
But the evaluation and opinion of the former US President is not taken into account! Now the minions of Putin are commanding in Russian culture. And their level of intellectual development does not allow them to realize even the words of the great Russian democrat Michael Chernyshevsky, who was convinced that: "... when the Poles received their Mickiewicz, they no longer needed the condescending reviews of French or German critics. The non-recognition of the Polish literature would have meant only their own wildness. Now with the poet, like Shevchenko, the literature of little Russia (the former name for Ukraine under Russian Empire –ed.) does not need anyone's mercy. "
Kobzar was, is and will be a symbol of rebellion, courage and freedom-loving Ukrainian people. We can imagine the horror with which Kremlin’s officials - who are afraid of everything Ukrainian - are waiting for the inevitable "color revolution" on Red Square in Moscow. They were watching the video right from Maidan figuring Armenian Sergey Nigoyan, who was standing on Kyiv’s Maidan, declaring to the whole world the famous lines from Kobzar poem "Caucasus": "Fight – and you will win." For this aphoristic cry Sergey was the first among the executed and became one of the first heroes of the "Heavenly hundred".
The Russian authorities are likely to receive regular reports that it is the great poetry of Taras which adds to the heroine Nadezhda Savchenko her unconquered spiritual strength to withstand judicial punishment and psychological tortures.
There is no doubt that the photocopies and posters with the image of the armed with gun Ukrainian Bard on the Maidan or Taras Shevchenko dressed in the military equipment of "Ukrainian cyborg" - the defense Donetsk airport – were also put down on the table KGB officials and the servants of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation with various comments on them.
However, not so far off is that bright day when the images of “green little men” and “polite people” - now so popular in Russia - will disappear forever "like the dew in the sun rays". And their leaders will finally stand before the earthly or heavenly court. And then it will be as Kobzar dreamed:
“The earth reborn, with its inhuman,Boris Dnieprov, analyst
Brute foes of man for ever gone.
But mothers there will be, and sons
Aye, here on earth there will be humans!"
Translated by Maria Kryzhanovska