New Malorosians. When Zaharchenko will dress up in Khmelnytskyi's bloomers

By the end of last week, the idea of "Malorosia", voiced by the leader of DNR and suddenly merged by his Moscow patrons, was safely forgotten. But, perhaps, too early.

The idea of "Malorosia" voiced by Zaharchenko was born not among Donbass coal dumps. This is part of the dangerous technology of mimicry, quite flexible and adaptable to the changing external conditions of the idea.

The Kremlin made the right conclusions that the project "Novorosiia" did not work. Appealing to the myth of the Russian imperial glory of the southern territories did not find the expected response from the inhabitants of the southeast of Ukraine. Undoubtedly, "Novorosiia" is only postponed for the time being, because it is a beautiful dream of the Russian political, ideological, creative and ecclesiastical elite about the vast southern expanses of its own Lebensraum. Who refuses a dream? Especially since you can reach it in different ways.

You can try to talk with Ukrainians in a language that is more understandable to them, touching in the subconscious familiar lyrical images from the works of Gogol and Shevchenko; Take out the dusty mummy of the myth about the "reunification" of the two "brotherly" nations in Pereyaslav and glorify the "common" hero – Bohdan Khmelnytskyi.

The construct of the "DNR’s Malorosia" is very simple and universal. It looks like a lego – you can decompose into parts and reassemble something else, and you can use only certain details. Its direct purpose is the destruction of Ukraine, about which Zaharchenko openly declared. The fact that somebody of the militants did not support this idea today does not matter when it will be necessary – everyone will support it.

At the same time, the project of the "DNR’s Malorosia" is very predictable. After all, Kremlin inventors, though talented, are still limited in the choice of means and methods. The future of this project directly depends on us – the Ukrainians, from how correctly we recognise the threat, and from our actions. You cannot just response to the words about "Malorosia" following the President: "The project "Novorosia" was buried. Ukraine will restore sovereignty over Donbass and Crimea." To bury the "Malorosia", you need a little more effort, and the earlier, the better.

Of course, you can wait until it dies itself. But in this case, we will deal with the consequences in several directions at once.

First, it is internal political destabilisation of Ukraine. The idea of an alternative state with a capital in Donetsk will exist constantly, but with different activeness to be discussed, clouded with conjectures because of contradictory comments by the Kremlin and its puppets, and in the end, will gain all-Ukrainian fame in accurate to any elections. It is likely that there will be clones-projects of the "DNR’s Malorosia" among Ukrainian political forces, some kind of "Ukraine-for-all" or "Ukraine-let-it-be-good."

The concept of "DNR’s Malorosia" as an "alternative-Ukraine-for-all" has already been picked up by the first line of heralds of Russia, including among our fellow citizens. Further, the topic will be introduced into the sphere of discussion of the ways of "reconciliation", "the language of the peace – the language of enmity" and other similar discourses. How such constructs are used during the elections, we have seen repeatedly.

It is difficult to prevent such a development of events, but it is possible, first and foremost, with a clear communication from the official Kyiv with the society (which includes, in addition to militant rhetoric, quite concrete actions). The more incoherent the position of the authorities regarding what is happening in the East and the more confusing signals that society receives, the weaker its ability to withstand an invisible threat.

Of course, you can believe in the boundless wisdom of Ukrainians or historical luck. However, survival requires more realism, bordering on pessimism than unreasonable, frivolous optimism. The reminder of the amazing loyalty of the Ukrainian population to ambiguous political forces, both old and new, and an unlimited ability to forget where rakes are laid can help to approach reality.

The second direction of this project is the weakening of Ukraine's international positions. This whole "Malorosian Masquerade" should make an impression of the internal conflict with our external partners. It does not matter that Germany reacted so sharply to the idea of an "alternative Ukraine" because the Kremlin's planning horizon is long-term and its goal is not to get Berlin's consent right now. Now the project of "DNR’s Malorosia" has become a subject of discussion in the press, tomorrow some "analysts" in the West will be talking about it, and the day after tomorrow – politicians.

A separate weak link in the sphere of foreign policy communication of the discourse around the war in the east of Ukraine is various international human rights structures. Undoubtedly, their support is very valuable when it is about protecting human rights. However, it is no secret to anybody that Russia does not spare money for maximum presence in international organisations, including human rights organisations, and is fully benefiting from the efforts made. We will certainly hear about the need for reconciliation, on the advisability of considering different views and positions in building a common state and, possibly, launching some "all-Ukrainian dialogue/forum/platform."

Is there an antidote? There is. We just need to remember and remind everyone around us that any dialogue about "reconciliation" is possible only after the shelling ceases, the Russians will leave the occupied territories, including the Crimea, and Ukraine will regain full control over the border. Before this happens, all conciliatory round dances can only be driven on Red Square.

Finally, the third goal of the "new Malorosians" is our identity that is probably the most painful direction for Ukrainians. "We are the same as you, only others" – this narrative is dangerous and hostile. The launch of the project "DNR’s Malorosia" means the absolutely serious intentions of the Kremlin in relation to the so-called DNR/LNR. Russians do in this case what they always do – steal our history. However, such a big cap just fits the big chap.

Probably, one of the most popular queries in search engines in recent days was the Bogdan Khmelnytskyi’s flag. Most likely, Zaharchenko also googled this image, colouring and the symbolism of which is incredibly far from the perception of ordinary DNR member. Therefore, the flag of Bogdan Khmelnytskyi will not be a flag of terrorists from the DNR. However, it does not matter either. The link "Malorosia"- Khmelnytskyi is important, which allows you to take on board the entire Soviet historical and propaganda material about the age-old unity of the two "brotherly" peoples and supplement it with modern meanings and Ukrainian symbols. It is likely that the Russian heralds are already working with inspiration on the symbols of the "DNR’s Malorosia", compiling the heraldry of the Cossacks era, the modern heraldry of Ukraine, especially the military heraldry, and what has already been drawn for the militants. These arts we will see, as we will hear old new songs about the "common" historical heritage.

It cannot be ruled out that Zaharchenko will organise costume balls in bloomers and embroidered shirt either. Fight against such a tough thrash will be meaningless. It is more expedient to remember that, being an impersonal nobody, it is very simple to try on other images. The only thing that cannot be measured is values. Apart from the external image, our historical heritage has a value dimension, which has not yet been fully understood and realised by us due to complex historical circumstances; But which makes up our genetic memory and motivates behaviour.

Having different values, it is impossible to reconcile. And the militants in the Donbass and their masters in the Kremlin understand this very well. Therefore, the project of "DNR’s Malorosia" is also a call to all Ukrainian inhabitants of the Russian value field. It is absolutely clear what fate awaits the representatives of a different ideology in the case of the victory of the Kremlin. You just have to look through the historical chronicle.

It is difficult to imagine how you can have values that you do not even dare to voice. In this relation business of the militants in the Donbass, as well as their masters in the Kremlin, are quite bad. If the Kremlin values will be sounded according to their essence, the conversation with Western countries, as well as with their own population, would be completely different. Therefore, the population is duped to the loss of the ability to think logically, and for the external partners, play with fig in the pocket is played out. By skillfully using diplomatic rhetoric, the Kremlin creates an erroneous perception of Russia as a bearer of common values with the West. At the same time, the Russian ruling elite openly says that it considers the West as a rival in the value sphere. In general, Russians are always quite frank and boldly voicing their intentions. But to realise that something is going wrong, the West needed to learn the consequences of its disregard for the Russian threat.

The lessons of imaginary friendship with Russia are too expensive for Ukraine. It is useful for us to understand well that Russia has no right to a credit of trust on our part and has no presumption of innocence. Simply put, Russia and the Russians are enemies until they prove the opposite. And the same fresh idea of the "DNR’s Malorosia" confirms Russian hostile plans. This construct can be decomposed and combined in many different combinations. It is important to understand that this is, in fact, an ultimatum to Kyiv. So, the war will be long.

(The article was published on "Delovaia Stolitsa" on July 24, 2017)