Ukraine, Kiev: the ‘Titular Nation’ Versus the ‘Non-Titular’ Lebanese
EDITORIAL | 27.05.2017

Ukraine, Kiev: the ‘Titular Nation’ Versus the ‘Non-Titular’ Lebanese

The Ukrainian authorities never seem to tire of talking about the war with Russia. The same goes for the Ukrainian radical nationalists. It turns out, however, that they are actually fighting ‘outsiders’ of every nationality except Ukrainian.

In the last few days alone, fighting has broken out with Moldovans in Odessa, with Bulgarians in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, with Hungarians in the Zakarpattia Oblast, and with Lebanese in Kiev. There has also been fighting with the Turks and with peoples from Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East, who have all had the misfortune of annoying the ‘titular nation’.

Linas Caffe in Kiev, Ukraine

The dispute with Linas Caffe arose because of the difference in the price of coffee – it was cheaper to take-away than to drink in the café itself. The ‘patriots’ wanted to drink coffee inside Linas Caffe, but at the take-away price. The result was a scandal that was very quickly given a nationalist hue and moved from the sphere of public catering to the sphere of politics. 

«Remember Ukrainians are the boss here!» shouted several dozen ‘activists’ led by Mikhail Kovalchuk, leader of the National Patriotic Movement of Ukraine, as they marched to close the ‘Arab eatery’ (a café run by Lebanese).

Prior to this, foreigners started being harassed on social networking sites. «Get the hell out of our city, you filthy degenerates! Arrest and deport immigrants», «You have no say in our country!», «They must be eradicated», «Ukraine for Ukrainians», and «They’re guests here and most are unwelcome; racism is good when you respect your own kind more than another», said ‘soon-to-be Europeans’ who recently received the right to visa-free entry into the EU. The least offensive comment from racially correct Ukrainians regarding ‘outsiders’ was «the world’s garbage».

There were familiar faces among those fighting to clean up the national ranks such as Mykola Kokhanivsky, head of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, and neo-Nazis Vita Zaverukha and Igor Krivoruchko, who, in 2011, stabbed two Crimeans in Kiev in a racially-motivated attack because they did not belong to the ‘titular nation’. Immediately noticeable were nationalists from the Misanthropic Division.

Vita Zaverukha, a Ukrainian neo-Nazi

The café’s Lebanese owners called the police, but police officers did nothing other than calmly watch as the café was invaded by nationalists.

The Lebanese owners were eventually forced to close the café to stop the attack, but this was not enough for the hardcore nationalists, who were buoyed up by their success. Yet another call for mobilisation appeared on Facebook with a view to closing the entire chain of Arab cafés. «Friends, we need to see this through to the end. I urge you to carry out any actions at your discretion that will close this dump once and for all,» wrote Kovalchuk in his call for reprisals.

Vita Zaverukha, a Ukrainian neo-Nazi

As a result, the Lebanese owners were forced to comply with all of the nationalists’ demands: they promised to sack all personnel objectionable to the ‘titular nation’, switch to Ukrainian, and «take part in various social projects» (i.e. give money to racketeers). Nowadays in Ukraine, this is known as «a full 100 percent understanding» (Kovalchuk). «We are proud! Glory to the nation! Death to all enemies!!!» shouted these ‘soon-to-be Europeans’ joyfully.

And the Ukrainians fighting to cleanse their nation have not stopped at the Lebanese. They have already warned staff at the Lyubimy Dyadya café that the name of their establishment is «in the language of the enemy». In another small Kiev restaurant, Aroma, members of the ‘titular nation’ did not like the «non-Ukrainian» menu. They have also targeted the Katyusha café chain.

It seems that before long, the ‘patriot racket’ will be in full swing, except that unlike the 1990s, the gangsters are now calling themselves ‘patriots’. Kiev is a real honeypot for these people: the ‘titular nation’ can now walk into any shop, any business and any café and demand they dance the Ukrainian hopak, sack ‘non-titular’ personnel, and, at the same time, «take part in social projects». Any business in Ukraine (not belonging to the authorities) can now be closed at the request of competitors under the slogan «Ukraine for Ukrainians!»

It is more than likely that the name of the Lyubimy Dyadya café will now be translated into Western Ukrainian, and hand in hand with the Ukrainisation of anything and everything will come racketeering, gang violence and the further ‘Galicianisation’ of Kiev (Galicia is regarded in Ukraine as the ancestral home of the ‘titular nation’).

Tags: Ukraine 

RELATED ARTICLES