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Republic Of Galicia

The photos below is from a recent nationalist march in Kiev. Their inclusion is just random, and has only slight relation to the text. Found here here and here

Galicia, or Halychyna, is a territory formed by three regions in Western Ukraine, Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk, and Ternopol', and it is special in the context of Ukraine. Due to historical circumstances, discussion of which is far beyond the scope of the present post, large part of the population there has mutated into nationalist orcs. And these orcs have elected their representatives into local municipal and regional councils.

Galicians often claim that in their region there live "true Ukrainians." (TM) This implies that a "true Ukrainian Ukraine" (TM) will not come about until the entire territory of the state called Ukraine, and perhaps other neighbouring territories, don't become one Greater Galicia. At present however, there seems to be a lot of disagreement between Galicia and the rest of Ukraine, primarily because of "Galician peculiarity."

Due to local municipal and regional councils being held by nationalist orcs, cultural and educational initiatives of the central government are not respected there. On 9 October, the Lvov regional council voted to make the new language law invalid on the territory of the Lvov region. The initiative came from the infamous Lvov regional council member, Irina Farion.

Farion is a member of the ultra-nationalist VO "Svoboda". She made headlines by going to a kindergarten and telling kids with Russian names to go to Moskovia. She also made headlines by successfully demanding that a driver of a mini-bus public transport who played Russian music be fired from his job. After that she triumphaly declared: "That creature was sacked!" And even more recently she was annoyed by a Russian rock band "Mashina Vremeni" advertising its concert in the Russian language on the streets of Lvov. She demanded that these billboards be dismantled. However, she was told that the new language law allows people to advertise in a language of their own choosing.

No such law allowing people the freedom of choice should exist in world of Farion, and it needed to be made invalid. In Galicia, Lvov is certainly not the only region which has denounced the new language law and made it invalid. Similar motions were passed in regional and municipal council across the region. The problem is that all of these actions of Galician councils are unconstitutional. Regional and municipal councils have no right to denounce laws passed by the Parliament. In this case, the central government has the right to dismiss the regional and municipal councils in Galicia for disobedience, but I doubt that measure will be taken. 

But recent Galician deviations from the national norm do not end here. The current Minister of Education, Dmytro Tabachnyk, decided to purge nationalist dirt out of the history curriculum. This has made him "very popular" among the usual suspects, from Lvov all the way to Toronto. In Lvov they decided to supplement the official material of the Ministry of Education with their own publications that will tell the "truth."

The book that the schools in Lvov now use to supplement what they see as incomplete programme of the Ministry of Education, was written by a 26-year old teacher from a Lvov school number 28, Zakalyuk. I sense we are dealing here with a professional with years of practical experience. To provide funding (70,000 Hryvnas, or approximately 8600 USD) for Zakalyuk's project, back in August, the VO "Svoboda" members on Lvov municipal council refused to listen to the mayor's account of the work of the executive organs of the municipal council, until money from the municipal budget will be provided.

Ironically, a month later, 1000 of Lvov's street cleaners and road workers went on strike because the municipal council failed to provide funds for keeping the city clean in the critical months of October, November, and December. Seems like the council finds the time and money to erect statues of Bandera, ban Russian language, and provide supplementary history books for local kids, so the latter don't become contaminated by "improper discourse." But the fact that the leaves fall in Autumn, and snow falls in Winter, that does not appear to be high on their agenda.   

And what is that "proper discourse" that Zakalyuk and VO "Svoboda" want to teach kids in Lvov? Zakalyuk's book claims that the Ukrainian Insurgent Army are heroes, and that the Holodomor is a genocide. The first I can sort of understand, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army is a West Ukrainian phenomenon, and they don't want grandpa to feel bad. But I have a hard time understanding this strange obsession of Galicians with telling the the story of Holodomor "right." These people were not even part of the Soviet Union at the time of Holodomor.

But the best of all included in the book is yet to follow. I translate a quote from the masterpiece:  

The attempt to introduce a second state language provoked a sharp resistance from patriotic forces. In Kiev there began a hunger-strike of several members of the Ukrainian Parliament. Attempts by the police to disperse those on hunger-strike ended in failure because members of VO "Svoboda" stood up for the defence of the people. 

So it is not only a history textbook but a piece of political propaganda as well. The Ministry of Education could not let this pass without a comment, and informed Lvov municipal authorities, that all study materials need to be approved by the Ministry of Education before they can be used in lessons.

On 11 October, the press-service of Lvov municipality reported, quoting the mayor of Lvov, Sadovyy, that the city is not planning to negotiate the textbooks with the Ministry of Education. Sadovyy said, I translate:

The job of the school is to give children, thorough, comprehensive education. These textbooks do not require any approval from the Ministry of Education. These are supplementary books. 


Our children need to know the truth about the history of our state. So let the Ministry take care of its own business, and we will do what depends on us, so that our children receive truthful history of our nation.

Basically, Sadovyy says that educating Galician children is no business of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education. This once again shows how hollow is the Ukrainian "Unitarian model" as enshrined in the Constitution. 

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Reader Comments (32)

First people in the center of the Republic of Muscoy demonstrating against what they perceive to be an oppressive regime, and now recalcitrants in the Republic of Galicia too. What's this world coming too anyway?? It's a good thing tha the world has people like you and Tabachnyk to provide the really 'true history' of the Ukrainian people. :-)

@ Hack

What were you were saying? :-))

October 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

'Basically, Sadovyy says that educating Galician children is no business of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education. This once again shows how hollow is the Ukrainian "Unitarian model" as enshrined in the Constitution.'

What's wrong with allowing some regional divergence in educational curriculum anyway? Why must the sovok russophile version of history
predominate in all regions of Ukraine anyway? You russophiles seem to pay lip service to democratic values, however in practice your sovok mentality always seems to dominate...:-(

@ Hack

Are you mentally retarded?

Where in that quote you mention do I say that I find it wrong to allow some divergence in educational curriculum? What I do say in my article is that the behaviour of Galician councils is unconstitutional, Ukraine is a unitary state. As you probably know, I do not see anything wrong with making Ukraine a federal state. You know, that would be the democratic thing to do. As my example shows the current model is unsustainable. But as things stand, federalism is not reality, and therefore the actions of Galician councils are illegal.

Get it?

October 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

I guess we'll have to wait and let Yanykovych's kangaroo courts sort it all out then?.....Good thing that Yanukovych is not suffering from any mental maladies (although the Ukrainian press is constantly printing stories about his daily 'confusions')....

@ Hack

As I point out above in the post, I do not think any coercive action will be taken towards Galician councils. I might be wrong in my prediction, and will most certainly report if I register something of the kind. ;-)

October 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

The enthusiastic Ukrainian sentiment that you allude to in your piece exhibited in Galicia, can also be readily obseerved in neighboring Volhynian and Bukovynian provinces as well. Svoboda proponents are also quite numerous in the Vinnitska and Khmelnytska oblasts too. I found it quite interesting (and apparently you didn't because you never addressed a previous comment of mine) that within the Kyiv Oblast the City fathers have resoundingly refused to consider making Russian a regional langage...quite a ways away from the Republic of Galicia??.....

@ Hack

Svoboda has some support in Bukovina, Volhynia, and Vinnitska and Khmelnytska oblast, but in Galicia that support is in the least twice as large as in those regions that you mention. To put it in more simple terms, in those regions that you mention, Svoboda has presence on local councils while in Galicia it dominates local councils.

It is the right of Kiev regional and municipal representatives to vote against making Russian regional, just as it is the right of any other region to vote for Russian becoming regional. Kiev never voted to make the law invalid though, there is a difference. I am sure that broadcasts and commercials in Kiev continue to be in Russian unhindered. After all Russian language dominates in Kiev despite not being regional. ;-)

October 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

Don' Yanukhovych and his russophile lieutenant Tabachnyk take up residence in Kyiv?? :-) :-)


October 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

I've been to Kyiv several times and couldn't say which language actually 'dominates' either on the streets or through the airwaives. In a very upscale department store on Khreshchatyk, I overheard a very well dressed mother speaking to her daughter in Ukrainian. I was, however, very dissapointed to hear that most of the tour guides at the Lavra conducted their business in Russian. (what do you expect from an MP run business though?). On the streets of the Kurinovka area, a little bit from the center where I stayed, I was glad to hear more Ukrainian spoken than Russian. Billboards, were almost all exclusively in Ukrainian.


Yanukovych and his coterie from the Donbas has always been detested by Kyivans and treated as outsiders. Just watch the local sentiment expressed towards them during a local soccer match....

@ Hack

Your experience seems to have been better than that of Askol'd Lozinskyy:

Цим разом я перебував тільки в Києві і коротко у Львові та Тернополі. В Києві на вулиці за п'ять днів почув тільки раз українську


October 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

@ Hack

And so what with that sentiment towards Yanukovych by football fans, I know ethnic Russians and proponents of Little Russianism who have nothing good to say about him. ;-)

October 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

My point, and Askold's no less, is that the stereotypical thinking that Kyiv is 100% russified is not at all accurate. This is coming from one who'se not afraid to admit that his own relatives that live in Kyiv speak Russian amongst themselves and at the workplace too. :-0

My relatives that speak Russain amongst themselves spent the early part of their lives traveling around the Soviet Union, due to their father's military career, similarly to the Klitschko borthers' experience....

The essential point about the decisions in Lvov is that local councils have declared their decisions carry more force than national laws. So far as I know no council in any part of the eastern or southern Ukraine has ever made such a decision.

When a local council makes such a decision it is more than halfway to declarig itself sovereign and proclaiming secession.

As for the strike by the street cleaners the important thing to say is that the local people seem to support the council against Kiev. After all they voted for it. That presumably means that they support its policies.

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexander Mercouris

@ AM

Imagine the noise if councils in the South-East dared to follow the example of Galicia. :-)

I think that most of the protesting cleaners did not make the connection between the council being constantly pre-occupied with linguistic, and cultural issues, and the lack of funds for cleaning. ;-)

October 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

Dear Leos,

As I very well remember what began the process of the USSR\s breakup was when local councils in the Baltic States declared their laws superior to those of the central Soviet government without this provoking a response from the central Soviet authorities. I am not saying that we are anywhere near that point in the Ukraine yet. For one thing as you correctly say the Galicians still seem to think that with another twist of the electoral cycle they may be able to impose their ideas on the rest of the Ukraine. However if that doesn't happen and if it becomes clear that the Yanukovitch government is here to stay and if it does decide to take the Ukraine into first the Customs Union and then the Eurasian Union then these decisions may look like a straw in the wind.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexander Mercouris

Alex - polls show that most Ukrainians (not just Gaicians) prefer the European model to the Eurasian model. So tell me then, who will really be imposing their will on Ukraine if Yanukovich decides to drag Ukraine in an easterly direction??.....

@ Hack

There is not an overwhelming support for European integration. And also that support I bet is highly regionalized, and most people do not feel that strongly about it.

October 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

There is virtually no suspport for Eurasian integration. And also that support I bet is highly regionalized, and most people do not feel that strongly about it.

@ Hack

Well there is 30% in the poll that you last mentioned, with another 30% not certain. There are other polls that state a higher number, how are you going to claim that there is virtually no support? ;-)

October 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

'how are you going to claim that there is virtually no support? ;-)'

by the same token that you're trying to claim:

'There is not an overwhelming support for European integration' :-) :-)

@ Hack

That makes you an idiot, but we already know that. ;-)

October 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

Name calling again? Do all russophiles exhibit your type of childish behavior Leos?

@ Hack

No, many other Russophiles would ban you from their blogs forever! ;-)

October 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček

So they either resort to name calling or to banning....what a bunch of intollerant boors! :-)

@ Hack

There can be no tolerance to what you display here. Be glad that I tolerate it with name calling. You could as well find yourself banned, and given how things work here, you would not be able to complain. :-))

October 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeoš Tomíček


If you read my comment carefully it is heavily qualified. I speculated on what might happen IF it becomes clear that Yanukovitch's government is here to stay and IF it takes the Ukraine into the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union. Possibly these contingencies will never happen but what if they do - which is not impossible. What the polls seem to show is that whilst most Ukrainians at the moment do not support Eurasian integration Galician Ukrainians adamantly oppose it and would probably oppose it in any likely circumstance even if other Ukrainians came round to it. What the decisions of the Galician councils show is that they will not recognise the legality of decisions made in Kiev they strongly disagree with. This is the first step to secession. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexander Mercouris

Post-Soviet polling in Ukraine has indicated that the population there (in overall terms) favors closer and friendlier ties with Russia when compared to the minority element that gets top billing in the Kyiv Post (KP).

It's within reason to believe that Ukraine isn't likely to join the EU as a full fledged member anytime soon if ever. A customs union involving Russia and some other former Soviet republics comes across as a practical route for Ukraine to eventually take

Sometime back, a KP article discussed creating separate west Ukrainian state. This position was articulated with a noticeable disgust with how much of Ukraine carries on - inclusive of the pro-Russian sentiment.

Some Russophiles have expressed happiness with western Ukraine breaking away. That move might lead to a state that joined NATO - something that Russophiles wouldn't be so happy about. The creation of a west Ukrainian state doesn't by default end differences between the rest of Ukraine and Russia. Granted that such a separation serves to decrease anti-Russian influence in the rest of Ukraine. The hypothetical west Ukrainian state might enhance differences that involve Galician Ukrainian nationalists vis-a-vis Rusyns in Trans-Carpathia and Romanians/Moldovans in Bukovina.

In short, there're reasons for Russia friendly and not so Russia friendly elements in Ukraine to oppose the creation of a west Ukrainian state.

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMisha

This piece jives with some of the earlier discussion at this blog on why Ukrainian oligarch influence is hindering closer Russo-Ukrainian ties:

Simultaneously (and as previously noted), there's good reason to believe that the EU isn’t likely to take in Ukraine as a full fledged member anytime soon, if ever. Ukraine's economy remains challenged, with a good portion of its population believing that Ukraine should've closer ties with Russia.

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMisha

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