Russia, Ukraine: Stories About Words

Global Voices Online
Friday, July 28, 2006

Below is the translation of three stories about words: in the first one, they are being banned; in the second, they offend; in the third, there aren't enough of them.

LJ user plushev, a Russian radio journalist, writes (RUS) about the government's attack on the name of the controversial National Bolshevik Party (NBP):

All words, words, words

These people are for some reason afraid of words. [...]

The Federal Registration Service has asked RosOkhranKultury [Russian Culture Protection Department] to punish the mass media that cover NBP. On what grounds? Because when they call NBP a party, these mass media are spreading false information, since NBP isn't registered as a party. According to this logic, those who aren't members of the Writers' Union cannot be called writers. By the way, I still remember that this is exactly how it used to be in the Soviet times. But what's most interesting is that folks at RosOkhranKultury are totally confused themselves:

RosOkhranKultury recommends calling the National Bolshevik Party of the Bolsheviks "the party that calls itself NBP." [...]

So is it a party or not? And is [the RosOkhranKultury representative] spreading false information by calling NBP "a party that calls itself NBP"?

I asked [Eduard] Limonov [leader of NBP] today why there is such a fear of words - maybe he, as a literary master, has an idea. He said that history doesn't know a single case where something ceased to exist after a forcible extraction of the word [its name] from the lexicon.

In fact, everything has been turned upside down. Here's what false information regarding NBP's status is: "NBP party registered by the Ministry of Justice." The rest has been made up, but no one cares, and that's why, beginning today and until the cancellation of this piece of paper, you won't hear the words "NBP party" on the air (including our station, though on others these words are rarely used now anyway). But please be sure that plenty new constructions will be coined (I've offered "non-party NBP" and "the Party That Can't Be Named"). This, of course, is good for the NBP party, which considers itself a party, but which cannot be called a party. Ministry of Justice ([Federal Registration Service] is its department) couldn't have made a better present to Limonov - awesome advertisement.

But still, why such a fear of words?


qopqop: I'm surprised by something else. The readiness of the mass media to follow idiotic orders. Everyone thinks this is idiotic but all are eager to play along. Officials aren't allowed to use the word 'dollar' and here's [German] Gref [Russia's Minister of Economics] looking like a "clown of a federal level" at a government meeting when he says "non-rubles." Idiocy must be ignored simply because of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. Or a lawsuit should be filed. But when even [the Echo of Moscow radio station where LJ user plushev works] obeys, I don't even know what to say.

plushev: If you don't know what to say, don't say anything.

vika_1_2: The Soviet Union also doesn't exist anymore. How are they going to punish for mentioning it? [...]

klober: This is absolute, pure paganism, where words are meanings. Pagan women are not allowed to say the names of male gods and fertility spirits. Children are given names at birth but throughout life they are called something else, in order to deceive evil spirits.


LJ user otar (Otar Dovzhenko) writes (UKR) about how a TV journalist-turned-politician hurt the feelings of some of his new parliamentary colleagues by using a synonym of the word "Homo Sovieticus":

When he was introducing a draft (don't remember which) from the parliamentary rostrum, head of the freedom of speech and information committee Andriy Shevchenko [member of Yulia Tymoshenko's Bloc, not to be confused with football star Andriy Shevchenko] used the epithet "sovkove" [derivative of "sovok"] to describe some aspect of our television.

This has caused the "Bolsheviks" to protest. Representatives of the three factions took turns demanding that Shevchenko respect other people's views and not offend what they hold sacred.

In particular, a representative of the Party of the Regions noted that "our people were born in the Soviet Union and one shouldn't offend their Motherland."



LJ user lucysd writes (RUS; warning: contains a graphic photo) about how, allegedly, members of the Pora party ran out of words and used feces to punish a young man who claimed at a press conference to have been stood up on a promise to be paid for living in Pora's tent camp at Kyiv's Independence Square:

Contemporary Ukraine: Arguments and Facts

Today [Pora members] poured shit over a guy next to the UNIAN [news agency]. Literally. Out of a pail.

Regardless of whether he deserved it or not, this gesture, imho, expresses very vividly the state of affairs in Ukrainian politics.

[Graphic photo and news story text omitted]

P.S. I've just imagined how [head of Pora] Kaskiv [...] orders Pora soldiers to go inside the tent and come up with a pail of the weapon of contemporary proletariat (or intelligentsia?). [...]


b0ris: The weapons befit the war.

aier: Would be nice to do this to all parliamentarians from the Party of the Regions [...], Communist Party and Moroz's Socialist Party - and, ideally, to all who voted for them.

zgollum: I don't see why this shouldn't be done to all parliamentarians in general.

do_: The weapons befit the people, yes.

lucysd: I wouldn't generalize like this :) More like, the weapons befit the army :)

djushes: It'd be interesting to read about it in some English-language media. Any links?

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