The antics of various members of the rightwing party VO “Svoboda” [“Liberty Party”] have long made many of us wince, however the behaviour of one Lviv Regional Council member Iryna Farion at a kindergarten to mark Native Language Day warrants more than just disgust, but very serious measures from the authorities.
Ms Farion’s visit was clearly staged, with the children all dressed up, most wearing embroidered tops. The politician began walking around the classroom giving her hand to each child while asking their name. Those who told her their name in Ukrainian style were praised effusively. She did, admittedly, experience initial failure after she explained at length why in Ukraine the lad who had identified himself by the Russified form of his name “Misha” must “of course” use the Ukrainian form. She asked the children which they preferred, only to hear the children in unison chant “Misha!” Maybe that was why the tactic changed. One young girl named herself “Liza” and Farion saw fit, in front of all the children and adults to humiliate her, saying: “Liza, that’s from the word “to lick” and there was once a disgusting journal called that”. And then, the most incredible of all, when she told a young girl that she mustn’t under any circumstances be “Alyona”. “If you become Alyona, you’ll have to pack your bags and leave for Moscow”.
The adults around her on the video showed no obvious support yet nor did they make any objections.
One politician has already called for Farion to be prosecuted under Article 161 of the Criminal Code [infringing people’s equal rights on the grounds of ethnic, racial or religious group. While the said politician comes from a quite different political faction, it should be said that this revolting display has shocked and disgusted a lot of people who while not in the slightest supporting VO “Svoboda”, do feel strongly about the need to protect the State language, Ukrainian (in a country where Russian is used wildly and following the victory of Yanukovych whose party has frequently suggested they might try to have Russian introduced as a second State language).
It is notoriously difficult in Ukraine to get convictions under Article 161, and this is unlikely to be an exception. It would, however, seem more than called for to make an official complaint about Farion’s behaviour.
One would wish that this incident could finally make people aware of the need to prevent an extreme party with intolerant, racist and anti-Semitic views from engaging in so-called “educational” work. The visit to a kindergarten in Lviv demonstrates that this party can treat even a very young child as an instrument of their ideological war. There is no place for such politicians in education.
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