Besides earlier on October 18-19 the All-Ukrainian Conference of Compatriot Organizations representing various Russian organizations in Ukraine for the first time in the modern history of Ukraine established the All-Ukrainian Coordination Council of Russian Compatriot Organizations composed of 15 representative of regions and 14 leaders of all registered all-Ukrainian and international compatriot organizations.
The general tune of the Roundtable was determined to a great extent by an address of V.G. Goidenko, Leading Adviser of the Russian State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs and Relations with Compatriots. This representative of the Russian Parliament reminded that despite a long period, which passed since declaration of the independence of Ukraine in 1991, the country still lacks any powerful movement of Russian compatriots or any actually affluent pro-Russian party.
In her opinion, such situation is a result of mistakes made by the Russian leadership. It is high time to employ new targeted-program methods of work with compatriot organizations aimed at implementation of particular programmes and projects. She believes that the current system of funding and support of compatriots leads only to rivalry between individual leaders and fails to facilitate consolidation.
S.G. Provatorov, Chairman of the Board, All-Ukrainian Russian Compatriot Organization Association “Russian Commonwealth”, Editor of newspaper Russkaya Pravda, supported the stand of Goidenko. In his opinion, the status of Russians and Russian language in Ukraine completely depends on Russia and its policy. Ukrainian Russians alone cannot withstand the pressure of the European Union and USA, which have been building “there” civil society in Ukraine for a long time and successively. It is only Russia that may play a leading role in consolidation of Russian compatriots.
However Provatorov spoke against any efforts to unify the compatriot movements, against establishment of a single organization and promotion of a single “leader” – “a chief Russian”. He said that it will only hamper in actual consolidation of compatriots, and provoke further dissociation among them. He believes that the format of Russian Commonwealth is the best option.
Besides the consolidation the participants of the Roundtable discussed a number of urgent problems including the Ruthenian problem, extension of the Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership Treaty between Russia and Ukraine, and Russian identity. The last subject was raised by O.B. Nemensky, a researcher of the RAS Institute of Slavonic and Balkan Studies. Speaking about a post-modernist paradigm he said that the weakness of the Russian movement in Ukraine is mainly caused by preservation of the old Soviet discourse of nationality. According to the Soviet tradition, which was derived by the expert from ancient times, the nationality is understood in the biological sense as a blood relation whereas according to the modern concepts the very core of the subject is a cultural self-identification.
Therefore, in his opinion, Eastern Ukraine, which is Russian-populated and Russian-speaking in general lacks 100-% Russian self-identification. It explains the success of the “epoch-making policy” and propaganda of President Yuschenko that convinces that the people of Eastern Ukraine should study the Ukrainian language and “return” to their Ukrainian identity. “Until we abandon the Soviet notion of the Russianness, we will not be able to consolidate Russians”, the expert said.