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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

First Graders Hail Yanukovych With Soviet-Style Poems

Public recitals of political poetry got off to a fresh start on Sept. 1, or Knowledge Day, which marks the beginning of a new school year in Ukraine.

The following footage, which I downloaded from, features two first graders, boy and girl, at an eastern Ukrainian school ceremony attended by PM Yanukovych.

The poetry they recite mixes patriotism with paternalism. I took the liberty of attempting a poetic translation of these Sept. 1 verses, highly reminiscent of the Stalin era.

Photos courtesy of


И от нас
От пап и мам
Благодарность персонально
Виктор Федорович, вам

Here’s from us
From dads and moms
As we press ever so gladly
Viktor Fiodorovich’s palm

Note: Ukrainians formally address each other by first name, followed by a patronymic: Viktor Fiodorovich (transliterated from Russian), or Fedorovych (transliterated from Ukrainian).


Мы под вашим патронатом
Станем будущем страны
Мы себя покажем Штатам
С украинской стороны

Having you as our patron
Makes our future bright indeed
We will show the States and NATO
Our Ukrainian Godspeed

Apparently, the Age of Innocence still prevails over the Age of Information in some parts of the country. It pampers maladaptive worldviews in adults, encourages first graders to rattle off retrograde rhymes, and creates a divide larger than the digital one. Do you have to be Benita Ferrero-Waldner to know that such personality cult rituals make Ukraine unfit for EU membership? Will there be a knowledge economy in a country that celebrates Knowledge Day this way?

Is it possible that some of our “poetry lovers” crave a divide et impera future for Ukraine? They probably want average-income Orange families to enroll their kids in dance classes right away! This should prepare them for the increasingly popular art of guilt-trip dancing in front of Western embassies to get a visa.

After all, celebrating EU accession at retirement age won’t be so bad, provided you live long enough to beat the current life expectancy of 66 years.


Anonymous said...

No surprise - go to the Government Portal and click on "Top Stories" and lo and behold! 23 out of 25 stories are on Yanuk. (I wonder who goofed about the two that slipped thru :)


Anonymous said...

well done!

Taras said...


What did you expect?:) An inspirational story about Mahatma Gandhi;)?


Thanks:) Stay tuned!

Michelle said...

I like your blog so much! I want to contact you through email. Could you email me your email? Mine is

Taras said...

Thank you, Michelle:)

In writing this story, I paid tribute to the 20th anniversary of my own first grade experience. That experience included recitals of poetry dedicated to Lenin, but not to Gorbachev. Watching the video made me miss the spirit of perestroika.

Keep up the good work and check your e-mail:)!

Qatar Cat said...

под вашим патронатом??



Taras said...

Патронат, or patronage, is a fine piece of Kuchma-era lingo that incorporates statism into showbiz. I feel sorry for the kids. What kind of future can you build if your parents spoon-feed you this garbage?

Qatar Cat said...

Insane, really. I've never heard of such word.

There is a huge difference between patronage and патронат. The former is a correct noun form derived from "patron", and the latter is... what? Transliteration of patronage?


Taras said...

It’s never too late to learn a few things about contemporary Ukrainian poetry:)

In Russian civil law, патронат refers to a form of guardianship.

In Ukraine, патронат indicates sponsorship, support, backing, etc.

Qatar Cat said...

I don't know any contemporary colloquialisms or slang :( I can't communicate with people anymore without them asking what planet I'm from: I have no accent, yet I often ask them to repeat or explain an expression, and they say my language sounds like "it comes from the book".


Taras said...

What's so bad about books:)? You've preserved your native language, and that's great! If you have friends in Kyiv — and I’m sure you do — you can easily Skype your way to modern usage:)