Oh my goodness. What starts out as an amusing and scientifically inaccurate cartoon about dinosaurs from the 1960s ends on a bizarre and frankly pretty disturbing note. Check it out. (In Russian with subtitles in both English and Portuguese.)
Switek notes several of the 20th-century contexts in which the term “dinosaur” has been used as “perfect foils for our worries and fears” in the West — by antiwar protesters as “brutes who drove themselves to extinction by investing too much in their armor and weapons” or by Cold Warriors as hapless victims of a meteorite in the same way that “mutually assured destruction” could rain nuclear annihilation down on us all.
“Mountain of Dinosaurs” director Rasa Strautmane and writer Arkady Snesarev, he says, used the mass extinction some 65 million years ago “in a more specific and culturally subversive way.” It is a broadside on the Soviet system’s disregard for individual rights, depicting a metaphorical caretaker gone berserk.
Opposition activists clashed with riot police in the center of the Ukrainian capital Wednesday and the parliament speaker resigned after the legislature passed a bill that would upgrade the status of the Russian language.
The bill, which must be signed by the president to become law, would leave Ukrainian as the only state language but allow the use of Russian in Russian-speaking regions in courts, education and other government institutions.
Members of Ukraine’s pro-Western opposition say such as law would effectively smother the Ukrainian language by removing any incentive for millions of Russian-speaking Ukrainians to learn and speak it. They also say it would bring Ukraine back into the Russian orbit and torpedo its efforts to forge closer ties with the European Union.
Lawmakers loyal to President Viktor Yanukovych, who draws his support from the Russian-speaking east and south, rushed the bill through Parliament on Tuesday night, without giving the opposition much chance to oppose it in a debate.
Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn who was absent during the vote, announced his resignation Wednesday, calling the vote illegitimate, despite the fact that his own party voted for it. Seven national lawmakers announced a hunger strike.
(More at source.)
Clashes between riot police and protesters erupted in Kiev on Tuesday as Ukraine’s parliament gave initial approval to a law that will make Russian an official language and threatens to split the country along geographical and cultural lines.
Up to 9,000 demonstrators gathered during the debates on the law in the Ukrainian capital, one of the focal points for the Euro 2012 football tournament which starts on Friday.
After news emerged that 234 deputies in the 450-seat chamber had voted in favour of moving the legislation onto a second reading scuffles erupted on the streets outside the parliament buildings. Eggs and bottles were thrown by protesters at riot police who had cordoned off areas of the city, according to media reports.
Language is a powerful issue in Ukraine where Russian is widely spoken in the eastern parts of the country, including large cities such as Donetsk, which will host England’s match against France in the tournament’ next Monday.
A group of protesters opposed to the law tried to force their way onto Kiev’s Independence Square that will be a giant “fan zone” for the tournament, that Ukraine is hosting jointly with Poland.
They were countered by riot police but some UEFA signs were trampled by the crowd during the confrontation, Reuters reported.
Some protesters chanted “if there’s no language, there won’t be a euro,” linking a potential resurgence of Russian with a diminishing of Ukraine’s chances of closer ties with the European Union.
Напился, ругался, сломал деревцо -
стыдно смотреть людям в лицо!
Got drunk, swore, broke a tree -
Ashamed to face people!
Napilsya, rygalsya, slomal derevtso -
Stydno smoyret’ lyudyam v litso!
And does it really matter considering Ukrainian doesn’t even have a definite article? The short answer: yes. The long(ish) answer, from here:
The use of “the Ukraine” stirs up intense passion among Ukrainians, in fact. Some argue that the systematic use of “the Ukraine,” especially before its independence from the U.S.S.R., was used by English-language authors and journalists to subjugate the people and nation of Ukraine by demoting it to a mere region, a mere feature of the larger U.S.S.R.
A similar issue has raised hackles in the Ukrainian language itself. The use of the preposition na ”on,” before “Ukraine,” has been scrapped for v ”in,” within Ukraine. According to this site, the Ukrainian government requested the change in 1993. Russian prescriptivists, quoted on the same site, continue to demand na, based on “tradition”:
[They say] “Literary norms cannot change overnight because of any political process.”
Some have pointed out that the style guides of many newspapers and magazines, including The Economist, have explicitly required the use of “Ukraine” rather than “the Ukraine” after its independence. (I don’t have a copy of these style guides, so I can’t confirm, but there are secondary sources online which mention the shift.)
A violent scuffle has erupted in Ukraine’s parliament over a bill that would allow the use of the Russian language in courts, hospitals and other institutions in the Russian-speaking regions of the country.
The fight broke out Thursday evening between members of the pro-Western opposition who want to take Ukraine out of Russia’s shadow and lawmakers from President Viktor Yanukovych’s party, which bases its support in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east.
At least one legislator, opposition lawmaker Mykola Petruk, suffered an apparent blow to the head and was taken to the hospital with blood streaming down his face.
…Ukraine is deeply divided into the Russian-speaking east and south, which favors close ties with Moscow, and the Ukrainian-speaking west, which wants Ukraine to join the Western club.
Oh, Washington Post, that last paragraph is quite the oversimplification.
Женщина! Учись грамоте!
Эх, маманя! Была бы ты грамотной, помогла бы мне!
Woman! Learn how to read and write!
Oh, mother! If you were literate you would help me!