Ukrainian Folk Songs
Posted by marandina on Wed, 18 May 2022
To anyone that has read my recent story about my son’s homecoming from Moscow my genuine thanks. In the story I referred to an unpublished allegory of sorts. This is the piece I wrote on 28th February 2022. Having read it back, it’s still appears to be mostly current which is a reflection of how the conflict has become bogged down in attrition. Again, I hope sense prevails soon and we can all start fixing the problems we are now facing as a result, notwithstanding the crimes committed in Ukraine in the name of vainglory.
Ukrainian Folk Songs
Thousands of miles east of the West lives an evil sorcerer. You may not know him as a sorcerer; you may choose to use another expression. Some may think of him as something other than “evil”. We all apply our own filters, of course. The course of history will judge us all even if, for most, we will be specks of dust in the endless corridor of time. Those in power have a tendency to want to leave a legacy, a glorious entry in the history books, a legend left behind. Some crave the notion of a hero’s existence in the annals of folklore. Narcissism knows no bounds.
For one man, the last couple of years have been spent pacing up and down in an ivory tower whilst the world comes to terms with a Pandemic. Twenty-two years of absolute power is more than enough time for paranoia to take hold. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Untouchable, invincible, living in a bubble untroubled by the strife of everyday existence, time enough to now see enemies in all directions. And so a supreme leader made a proclamation…and tanks, planes and warships rained down on a neighbouring land.
As the blitzkrieg unfolds, the magi tracks progress. Surrounded by his medal-wearing generals, he is assured that the plan will succeed. Quickly. In a matter of days. They remember the saying “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” taking care not to be completely faithful with the truth. The sorcerer is prone to outbursts of rage; reprisals can be terminal. The expectation is of minimal resistance. They decide not to tell the sorcerer about the dissent encountered by their mighty army….
Like the woman wearing a white, woollen hat, black coat and boots in the port city of Henichesk who confronts a Russian soldier.
“Who are you?” she asks.
“We have exercises here. Please go this way.” The man standing in camouflage, combat gear holding a machine gun across his chest replies.
“So what the fuck are you doing here?” she demands now aware that there are foreign forces in her city.
“Our discussion will lead to nothing.” The military man tries to calm the woman down.
“You’re occupants, you’re fascists! What the fuck are you doing on this land with all these guns? Take these seeds and put them in your pockets, so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.”
Like the video that goes viral showing an Ukrainian national kneeling in front of a column of Russian tanks. As the military vehicles attempt to swerve around him, he adjusts his position to once again, block the convoy. Echoes of a similar incident at Tiananmen Square in China that occurred on June 5th, 1989. Both “tank men”, each consigned to history as icons of civil disobedience with neither of the men’s identities known. Not all historical details fit neatly into a curator’s logbook.
Like the young soldier who blows himself up on a bridge to save his comrades. Enemy tanks are converging on Henichesk Bridge in the southern Kherson region - a key strategic pinch point linking annexed Russian-occupied Crimea and mainland Ukraine. The young engineer has to act quickly and blows both himself and the bridge up to slow down the Russian advance. The soldier realised he did not have time to set a fuse and get to safety. Another casualty of war, another hero to go home to his mother in a bodybag. He will be celebrated and lamented in equal measure. Were he Russian, he would be another statistic for the commander-in-chief and his generals, on their informal tolerance of acceptable numbers of lives that can be lost. Suggestions indicate a round 50,000 on the aggressor’s side would be seen as success. Neat and, of course, cold-blooded.
Like the eerily omnipresent “Anonymous” – a group of hackers known to take up political causes. They launch a wave of cyberattacks against Russian targets. Russian TV channels are reconfigured to play Ukrainian folk songs whilst government websites are disabled. The mysterious hacker collective claim responsibility for the attacks on Twitter posting the message: “#Anonymous is at war with Russia. Stay tuned.” Symbolism is everything with the sinister Guy Fawkes mask logo now synonymous with the group and its connection to the revolutionary protagonist of Alan Moore's “V for Vendetta” comic book. Wars don’t look like they used to; this one is a separate conflagration based on the ability of computer hackers to disrupt and hold to ransom commercial enterprises and infrastructure in a way that would make Keanu Reeves’s character – Neo - from the movie “The Matrix” feel inadequate.
The evil sorcerer tires of the slow progress in bringing his enemies to heel. Despite huge resources committed, the main objective remains unfulfilled. The West is implementing indiscriminate economic sanctions that are causing disruption for his people. Leaders of other nations have been using aggressive rhetoric that, in his eyes, will simply fan the flames of conflict. There has even been demonstrations across the Motherland against this “war”. These protests are illegal and arrests have been made. He has been clear to point out that this is a military operation to rid the region of Nazis. A peace-keeping mission to retain stability. Acts of civil disobedience are on the increase like the graffiti daubed on an underground wall of the St Petersburg metro denouncing the magi and comparing him to Adolf Hitler; like the woman sitting quietly on the Moscow Metro with the words “no to war” scrawled on her handbag.
Information is power and misinformation has its purpose. And so access to the Internet and Twitter is blocked for the masses in his homeland. Woe betide the truth become known. And with a delirious response to his actions from around the globe, the threat of sanctions is met with a declaration of intent to put the use of nuclear weapons on standby. The sorcerer knows how to hold a stern gaze when looking into a camera.
The world holds its breath as one more despot flails and thrashes in the juices of his own ire.