Where Are Russian Speakers Truly Free? Maybe Only In Ukraine!

Hat tip to Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands, who points out (London Evening Standard, March 17) that most Ukrainians are bilingual, and “cosmopolitan in a way that most of us are not.  Unfortunately, we reward them for it by not noticing that they are bilingual, dividing them into groups of Russian- and Ukrainian-speakers, drawing the conclusion that there are two nations instead of one–and thereby preparing ourselves for Putin’s war propaganda.”

Snyder also notes that “Russian is a completely normal language of interchange in Ukraine.  There, tens of millions of Russian-speakers read a free press, watch uncontrolled television and learn from an uncensored internet, in either Ukrainian or in Russian, as they prefer….There is a country where millions of Russian-speakers lack basic rights.  That country is the Russian Federation….As the joke goes, Ukraine is a country where people speak Russian, while Russia is a country where people stay quiet in Russian.”  The Ukrainians who cheered Mikhail Khodorkovsky on the Maidan in Kyiv the other day are “Putin’s real Ukrainian problem: free people who speak freely in Russian, and might set an example one day for Russians themselves.”

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