Polonia Christiana: How do you assess the current state of Ukrainian national, cultural and civilizational identity?
Mieczysław Ryba: Modern Ukrainian identity (primarily in terms of civilization) is chaotic. In shaping face two currents: lesser, that is Latin (European) tradition and the Eastern tradition, the Turanian (Asiatic). If you try to combine it all into one, difficult to find items which will unite the entire Ukrainian community.
Of course, in Ukrainian history there are positive elements on which to build the identity of our neighbors to the East, however, overshadow: a modern Ukraine turns to its darkest traditions of the OUN-UPA (banned in Russia organization — approx. transl.). It is a tradition that it is impossible to approve.
— Why the ideas of the OUN-UPA was for the Ukrainians so attractive? Shouldn’t they be based on the Greco-Catholic tradition?
— Greco-Catholicism is a problem, because in the modern Ukrainian society dominated by the Orthodox, in addition, they are divided into two currents, that is, the Church of Kiev and Moscow Patriarchates. The Greek Catholics are only in the West of the country. Ukrainian identity, of course, possible to build in support for religion, however, you need to find a lot of positive figures, which was the concept of the creation of public foundations with the education of elites, of cultural development and so on. It must be such people, biography which may serve as to every Ukrainian role model.
The process of formation of Ukrainian identity is aimed at finding the elements that distinguish Ukraine from Russia and from Poland. The Ukrainian nationalist tradition has never been a Catholic backbone, although many of its members were educated in Greek-Catholic families. By the way, Stepan Bandera was the son of a Greek-Catholic priest. Unfortunately, his ideology is the exact opposite of all the principles of Catholicism, and the “Decalogue of Ukrainian nationalist” in many points contrary to the ten commandments of Christianity.
In Ukraine, emphasizing the importance of the struggle of the OUN-UPA against the Soviet Union, and at the same time trying to remove from history all crimes committed. Everyone who does it, is just a liar! Here is an example: will there be people who are willing to endorse SS a typical German organization, because it has long fought in the East with the Soviet Union? If anybody openly declare that you need to forget about the death camps, the murders on the fronts and genocide, because otherwise it is impossible to form the identity of modern Germans?
With Ukraine the story is the same: if we now take anti-Russia position, then I must say that the UPA also held anti-Russian stance. And the fact that its soldiers killed at the same time tens of thousands of poles, you need to shut up. A road to nowhere. Worst of all, in the ideology of Ukrainian nationalism impossible to find any positive elements.
Martyr Gregory Khomyshyn, who was Bishop of the Stanislaviv eparchy, called such actions are heresy, bordering on Satanism. He said that the denial of the darkest pages in Ukrainian history is the greatest tragedy of the Ukrainian people, which leads him away on a false path. Of course, should raise Ukrainian flags as much as possible such figures as Bishop Khomyshyn and relying on them to show the positive elements of Latin civilization, which are still preserved in some spheres of Ukrainian society. The path, which offered Khomyshyn, very long and complicated, but it’s the only way. All attempts to “cut the road”, as the cult of the OUN-UPA, will lead to a dead end.
— Does it mean that the formation of Ukrainian identity based on the tradition of the OUN-UPA throws Ukraine into the arms of the Turanian civilization, which was described by Felix End (Feliks Koneczny)?
— You could say that. Going by UPA, Ukraine becomes Asian civilization in terms of thinking and understanding of the world. Political and military actions of the Ukrainian insurgent army and organization of Ukrainian Nationalists were anti-Russian. However, in the mental and civilizational terms, these forces were close to Russia and very far from what we call today the culture of the West. Therefore, we can safely put forward the thesis that the OUN-UPA denied Russia, but also spread to the Ukrainian lands of the Russian mental, cultural and civilizational standards.
We often hear from Ukrainians as they want to be part of Europe. Put the question directly: whether to join the Latin world country, the mentality of the population that is so firmly ingrained Asian standards? No, it can’t! I will say more: the stronger the desire of Ukraine to become a “Western country”, the more and harder will need to show her the truth, for example, about the genocide in Volhynia. The only way to finally overthrow the myth of the OUN-UPA and to show the Ukrainians that this is a dead end road.
Let me remind you what happened in 1936, when the case of a series of attacks in Warsaw and Lviv judged Stepan Bandera. The verdict of the Polish court directly stated that such atrocities, particularly the killings of Ukrainians who have a positive attitude to the idea of the agreement with Poland is not only anti-Polish, but primarily anti-Ukrainian activities. A similar situation we are seeing now. Only the truth can save the Ukrainians from falling into the trap postmoderism tradition.
— President Andrzej Duda (Andrzej Duda) recently said that immediately after his taking office, he began negotiations with the President of Ukraine on the topic of the truth about the Volyn region and the activities of the OUN-UPA. So far, no positive response from the Ukrainian side has not received. What tools can we use to keep the Ukrainians from “cutting the road”? How to turn them to the path of truth?
— The Ukrainian political elites that now run the country do not seem to have the right to refer to the tradition of the OUN-UPA. For many Ukrainians, this tradition remains unknown, even alien. Perhaps the choice made by the Ukrainian leadership, has some rational basis, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is fundamentally wrong.
In Ukraine, whatever was said, there is no civil society. This country’s oligarchic structure and deep economic problems. The continuing fall in living standards — the perfect excuse for spreading nationalist ideology. All the problems of ordinary people can blame Russia, which is against Ukraine, a war in the Donbass. Ukrainian society receives a clear message: poverty is not associated with oligarchization of the country, and with the war. Who are we fighting? With the Russian! Who killed our brothers? Russian!
This kind of “smokescreen” hiding serious errors and problems of the current authorities, but it is worth remembering that it is not only a play on emotions. This ideology constantly penetrates into the space of culture, education, media and so on, and in this regard, the situation is critical. Worst of all, now not see any social forces, which wish really to dissociate themselves.
Antibanderovskie trends in Ukraine in recent times have been associated with the Party of regions and President Viktor Yanukovych. The problem is that “identity politics” of those ruling elites relied on the post-Soviet items. So Ukrainian identity continues to wander between post-communism and postmoderism.
In this context it is clear what great value is the initiative of the priest Igor Pelagatos. He turns to the most glorious aspects of Ukrainian thought and tradition, that is, for example, recalls the figure of Gregory Homechina. Such actions give hope for the future. Such a future completely different look than offered by today potbangers.
— Can Poland help Ukraine to overcome all those problems you mentioned: the problem of postinterview and identity, the economic crisis, the domination of the oligarchs, a war with Russia?
— The most important mission of Poland, which affects deeper layers than geopolitical tactic is to give the Ukrainians the light of Latin civilization. First and foremost, it is based on ethics and ethics on the truth. Our mission is to proclaim the truth! I repeat: a demonstration of the truth and the true forms of the heritage of OUN-UPA during the Second world war beneficial to the Ukrainians themselves. With silence, we hurt them as a de facto consent to the dissemination of lies.
In Turanian civilization history is not the sphere of truth, and the realm of political art, which creates profitable in political terms images. If someone tries to go this way, ignore sources and facts, trying to subordinate them to political queries, then, and he is not European or Latin (in civilizational terms) approach.
We have an important role to play, in particular, showing that Polish-Ukrainian relations was and remains the most important. One of these figures is a Bishop Hryhorii Khomyshyn. He was a Greek Catholic, but very Catholic person, fit into what we call the universality of the Church. In relations with the poles he stood on Russian soil, but at the same time opened to the truth and everything that is peaceful coexistence of peoples and of people in society.
That is our challenge, which will not be able to take on anyone. Concealment of facts is a kind of lie, which contributes to the falsification of history. Now the topic of crimes of OUN-UPA all the louder in the cinema, and performances of scientists and politicians, and that it rises, serves only the interests of Ukrainians.