Ukraine: Yulia Tymoshenko and Coal Miners

Global Voices Online
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Yulia Tymoshenko returned as Ukraine's prime minister on Dec. 18.

Five days later, she was in Donetsk region, visiting the site of Ukraine's worst coal mining accident, the troubled Zasyadko mine.

Taras of Ukrainiana wrote this about the politics of the trip:

[...] One of the major events I missed while being out of town was Tymoshenko’s peace voyage to Donbas. In a move highly reminiscent of the maiden voyage she had pulled on the eve of the Dec. 26, 2004 rerun, weeks before being catapulted to her first PM term, she started her second PM term on a soft, conciliatory note.

With a stronger personal support and a stronger opposition — both in and outside of the Orange Coalition — she faces a reality very much different from the euphoric landscape of the early 2005. The Orange Revolution is now history, but another presidential election is just a dream away. And there she is, ready to make that dream come true, ready to make history. So, the first thing she does as PM — her suitcase full of presidential ambitions — is beard the lion in his own den. [...]

While in Donetsk, Tymoshenko was quoted as saying this (RUS), among other things:

We'll be working on it and will make it so that in our country both young people and children would want to become coal miners.

Here are some reader reactions (RUS) to this statement, selected from the comments section on's news item linked to above:


I'll only believe in this when the President's daughter puts on a helmet and drags herself into a coal mine.



It's simple: she'll make other professions so unappealing that children would rather hope to become coal miners than anything else.



But this is exactly how it used to be in that great country that you destroyed! In the Soviet Union, children did dream about becoming coal miners, and their work was honorable and safe! Do you remember ever reading about coal mine accidents in Soviet newspapers?! No, because there weren't any!



Our children are dreaming of being coal miners. Because in our town of Snezhnoye the mines have been shut and now there is no way to make any money at all. We are surviving on bread and water, and it'd be nice to leave, but where to?


Peter Pan:

Communist: "Do you remember ever reading about coal mine accidents in Soviet newspapers?! No, because there weren't any!"

Are you so sure? And Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm" didn't exist, either, right?

It was all there. In special depositories. As for points of view that were different from the "leading and guiding one" - you could only hear those on short-wave radio through the wailing of the jamming stations. As Napoleon (not a psycho!) used to say in a well-known joke, "If I had controlled the Soviet press, the world wouldn't have learned about my defeat in the Battle of Waterloo!"


Benya na Laden dyshit 2 Communist:

You better remember football broadcasts from Donetsk. The tracks around the field were packed with wheelchairs.

Then they banned these wheelchairs, too.

As for the accidents, no one was reporting on them in the USSR - well, perhaps they did once, when the plane carrying Tashkent "Pakhtokor" [football team] crashed. They had to somehow explain to the people where the old players disappeared and why the backup team members were playing instead.

They didn't report a word on what happened to the Komsomolets submarine, nor did they report on the nuclear accident in the Urals - while it was way worse there than in Chernobyl.

So much for you Communist USSR government.



Kids are going to dream of playing for "Shakhtar" ["Coal Miner," a Donetsk football club]. That's for sure.


On a different note, the Soviet-time Napoleon joke cited in a comment above seems to have regained its popularity lately. Dmitri Minaev of De Rebus Antiquis Et Novis ran into it at a Russian history forum and posted a translation at his blog:

November 7, the anniversary of the October Revolution. The military parade at the Red Square in Moscow. Napoleon and Murat are among the invited VIPs: ambassadors, chairmen of the communist parties and so on. Napoleon reads "Pravda" newspaper and Murat observes the parade in excitement.

Murat: "Your Excellence, look at these brave soldiers! If we had a battallion of such soldiers, we could have won the battle of Waterloo!" Napoleon keeps reading Pravda. The Kantermirov tank division enters the Red Square.

Murat: "Your Excellence, look at these tanks! If we had one of them, we could have won the battle of Waterloo!" Napoleon keeps reading Pravda. The mobile tactical missiles slowly enter the scene.

Murat: "Your Excellence, look at these missiles! If we had just one of them, we could have won the battle of Waterloo!"

Napoleon raises his eyes, watches Murat sadly and finally utters: "Mon cher, if we had a newspaper like Pravda, the world would have never known that we had lost at Waterloo..."

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