«In the concentration camp, we knew the Soviet Union would collapse. The same will happen to Russia,» – dissident Myroslav Marynovych

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in Ukraine, the horizontal was always much stronger than the vertical, and it creates the major difference between Ukraine and Russia.

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Before the war, Ukrainians were looking in different directions. Now, there is one vector – to win the war. At the same time, Russia, which was considered a monolith, will inevitably disintegrate and collapse as a state. This was emphasized by dissident, political prisoner and human rights activist Myroslav Marynovych during the third meeting in the studio of «Tvoe Misto» media hub, devoted to the explanation of Ukraine.

He believes that the Ukrainian identity was not unified, but rather mosaic and fragmentary, which is why Ukraine failed to create its own powerful state during different epochs. However, currently, the situation is changing.

«My understanding of Ukrainian identity is based on my life experience. I was witnessing many periods of Ukrainian history and I can say that Ukrainian identity is not homogeneous, not unified – it is mosaic. It was a tragedy for Ukrainians in the past, because, at the time when imperial uniformity was at the centre of global attention, those countries who were able to produce such empires, became the most powerful. Ukrainians didn’t have a chance to create their own empire because they were fragmented, they were in a mosaic status. Now, the situation is slowly changing, because we entered this civilization, where the main model is «unity in diversity», – Myroslav Marynovych said.

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According to him, now Ukrainians can create a certain form of unity, because they are able to preserve their diversity and be united at the same time.

«And now, you see the nation that started to find its modus vivendi at the beginning of the 1990s, and it’s interesting to see how we are approaching the win-win model, trying to get rid of the win-lose model in our lives. Because in the beginning, we were competing who were better Ukrainians – in the East or in the West. Now, we understand that we are approaching this system where all people are important, and we understand that having this common round table and feeling equal, we may produce the united effect that will enrich our society, « – the dissident said.

In normal status, Myroslav Marynovych believes, it is quite difficult to find one vector of joint action in such plurality, so it was a complicated task for the governments to consolidate the nation.

«It’s interesting that now, when there is a war, the whole nation is united, it looks like in a resonance. Before the war, all people were oriented in different directions, now – all of them are united, there is one vector – to win the war. That’s all. This is a very strange but important effect, and we have witnessed this effect during our Maidans – the Orange Revolution of 2004 and the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-14. Again, we had the situation where people coming to Kyiv, the main square, from different regions of Ukraine, immediately found some role in a common task. And it was very important,» – the human rights activist is convinced.

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According to Myroslav Marynovych, Ukrainians have always united voluntarily and decided where to be free, as was the case during the Zaporizka Sich – military groups of Cossacks on the Dnieper river during the XV-XVIII centuries. 

«In its structure, there were many hundreds, they lived their own lives, but when the goal was to go and fight – then all these groups were consolidated. The same picture. Now, we can say that horizontals are much more powerful in Ukraine than verticals. And this creates a very interesting difference between Ukraine and Russia. British observer James Sherr explains it in the following way: Russia has a strong government and a weak civil society, Ukraine vice versa – a weak government (because it was difficult to consolidate people) and a strong civil society. It was difficult in our history to be successful when we had horizontals instead of verticals. But now, we see this interesting effect,» – the dissident explains.

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This trend is common in the contemporary world. That is why the Occupy movement in New York, the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, even the Muslim Spring and other events, including the Ukrainian Maidan, had this common feature – strong horizontals and weak verticals, Myroslav Marynovych says.

«Ukraine started in 1991 from the same point as Russia, but the countries are moving in different directions. Russia is strengthening its vertical – that’s why the authoritarian regime is very natural for Russians. For Ukraine, it’s vice versa. I cannot imagine one Ukrainian autocrat who would be equally authoritative for different regions of Ukraine. This is the reason why we are approaching a different goal, that democracy is natural for us. Of course, this democracy is not ideal, but still, it is a democracy, and we are eager, we want to defend it now,» – the dissident said.

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As a political prisoner, Myroslav Marynovych recalled his experience in the camps and drew a parallel that at the time of his imprisonment, they were already experiencing the death of the Soviet Union. He is also convinced that despite Putin’s recent agonies and posing with his army and nuclear weapons, it is clear that Russia as a state will soon fall apart.

«The Soviet government was very strong, it was the period of Brezhnev period, a very consolidated power. The whole country respected Soviet power. But we, being in prison, felt the smell of death of this country. We were sure that the Soviet Union will collapse, as it did a few years later, after we were released. Now the situation is very similar. We see Putin who suggests that his army is the second in the world, nuclear power and so on. The biggest centre of the world power! But we feel the death of this structure, of this country. I am sure that Russia will disintegrate in the future. Because now, we suggest that the Russian people are monolith – it’s not the case. At some point, as it was during the collapse of the Soviet Union, all the subjects of the Russian Federation will say their word. So, this is similar. I am not afraid about Ukraine as a state, as a nation. I am afraid for people, because so many of them suffered and died. But as a state, I am sure that we will prevail,» – Myroslav Marynovych summed up.

By Vitalii Holich

Photo: Ivan Stanislavskyi

Follow us on Facebook. Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.


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