«Jewish Observer»
May 2002
5762 Iyar

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The State Committee on Nationalities and Migration has been recently created in Ukraine. Its head, Grigory Sereda, is a professional in this sphere as he used to head the analogous department since the moment of its foundation within the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. For the beginning Grigory Porfiryevich organized a meeting with the leadership of the national minorities' organizations.

Everybody present had an opportunity to talk about his problems and to pronounce his suggestions concerning further activity of the State Administration. After the meeting we met with G.Sereda to find out how some of the proposals by the participants of the gathering can be actualized in the work of his committee.

One of the suggestions concerned the fact that Ukraine has practically no manuals and text - books on the history of its national minorities. The Committee could render its assistance in preparing and publishing such editions. Grigory Porfiryevich noted that the Committee would, certainly, assist in publishing manuals on the history of national minorities. The more we shall know the history of every ethnic group, the better the prospects of achieving interethnic accord in Ukraine will be. Preparation of such editions complies with the documents of joint intergovernmental commissions active at the moment in the country. You can't but agree with him, the more so that existing manuals have quite a few distortions in interpreting historical developments of some ethnic groups in Ukraine.

We also discussed the problem of commemorating the victims of the tragedies that befell on the peoples of Ukraine: Despite the fact that nobody blocks this process, many tragedies remain forgotten. We can recall here deportations of the Ukrainians, Poles, Germans and others, pogroms etc. As the commemoration problem includes a number of complicated organizational aspects, some organizations offered to create a State Commission on this matter. Grigory Porfiryevich agrees such commission is necessary and its activity will be very significant because it will deal with part of the history of both the native nation and national minorities.

These problems yet appear simpler than organizing counteraction to chauvinism.

Though Ukraine is satisfied with an interethnic peace, there are still forces trying to stir up interethnic discord. In particular, in Kiev in Maidan Nealezhnosti an anti-Semitic literature is constantly on sale, and the publishing house "Oriyany" issues anti-Semitic books (by Matvey Shestopal, Duglas Reed and Henry Ford). The laws forbidding any manifestations of chauvinism, which have been passed by the Parliament, are almost not activated by courts, whereas the government offices charged with controlling implementation of the laws are rather tolerant to chauvinists. Those protesting against chauvinism are advised to appeal to a court after the principle "A drowning man should get rescued by himself". G.Sereda agrees that protection of national minorities' rights envisages inadmissibility of the attempts to stir up interethnic discord. He promised to undertake corresponding measures together with other organizations, including law-enforcement agencies.

Unfortunately, we failed to find out what measures these may be. For till present days all government structures, from the General Prosecutor's Office to the State Committee on Informational Policy, have demonstrated their helplessness in treating chauvinists. Over several years the question on creating an Interdepartmental commission to deal with negative phenomena in the sphere of interethnic relations and preparation of proposals for an adequate official reaction has been under discussion. But, as it seems, they fear this commission more than chauvinism itself. The State Administration is not ready yet to define its position it this matter.


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