"Hohols" as an Engine of Progress

MOSCOW, Russia -- Finally, the primary engine of modern Russian progress has been revealed: the hohols. [“Hohol” is a derogatory Russian term for Ukrainians] I don’t mean those hohols who come to Moscow and the Moscow area looking for jobs and finding themselves in demand among employers not for their meticulous craftsmanship, but rather for their low wage demands. Rather, I have in mind those hohols who comprise a viable state, with Kyiv as its capital.

It’s worth mentioning that seeking an engine of Russian change beyond Russia’s borders isn’t something new in our history. People in this country – the vast majority – revered their leaders, subscribing to the formula “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and the Nation,” and were categorically lazy about demanding reforms, freedoms or other elements of progress – unless some meaningless and bloody revolt was sweeping over the country. The impulse, therefore, often came from the outside.

The Tatars forced us to form a state. Peter the Great glimpsed in Europe the reforms that he wanted to institute here. Catherine the Great stole her Enlightenment from the same place, even though she understood it in her own way. Meanwhile, her son Pavel was in love with Prussian culture. Alexander, who strangled him, secretly worshiped Napoleon until the latter attacked him. The Crimean War stimulated the restructuring of the army at the very least, and probably not only that. The German General Staff literally bought 1917’s revolution for a little over 60 million marks. As for Stalin’s industrialization, in many ways it replicated Hitler’s. Gorbachev’s perestroika wasn’t born inside the country, but was imported from the West. Even President Vladimir Putin seems to see an ideal Russian Federation as something like the German Democratic Republic.

And now we’ve come to the point where the new ideas come from the hohols.

Hohols rising

During last year’s election campaign in Ukraine, hohols easily destroyed the favorite invention of our militia chiefs when Putin, visiting Kyiv, told Ukrainians they could visit Russia for 90 days without registering. As a result of the hohols’ visits, permission to stay somewhere for 90 days without registering with the local police station was granted to Russians, in their own country, as well.

And now that this “joker” President Viktor Yushchenko has come to power along with his “gas princess,” the official hohols are nagging at our rulers almost daily. Our rulers don’t even know how to react to them anymore.

For the Kremlin, the hohol state has became, if not the biggest nightmare out there, then definitely an obsessive one. All kinds of political technologists are exploiting the idea of that nightmare to screw the big political bosses and get money out of them, bringing up the idea of another Orange Revolution. In response to this nightmare, various new divisions are being created in the Kremlin. Terrified by this nightmare that they’ve themselves created, some of the more emotional leaders have started frightening the others with the threat of Russia’s breakdown. That’s the way things are these days.

After Yushchenko invited our oligarchs to meet with him, the Russian president had to do the same, even thought it was repugnant to him. During the meeting, his expression indicated that he was forcing himself to sit at the same table with those elements of an alien class.

On the whole, Moscow had to ease back on its harassment of the tycoons and announce something like a thaw.

It went from bad to worse. Once hohols started complaining about the Common Economic Space, it began to fall apart. Apparently, it won’t survive. But whatever, it’s just a Space. It seems the Commonwealth of Independent States will have to be given up as well. The Kremlin had that same idea right after the elections in Ukraine. But they’re afraid to be the first ones to speak about it. Evidently they’ll wait until Kyiv brings it up.

We will be racing one another to the World Trade Organization as well. How dare the hohols enter it before we do? To avoid such shame and economic drainage, they set themselves the task of finishing all the negotiations by the end of the year. If it weren’t for the hohols, we would slowly haggle for another 10 years or so.

And NATO? Ukraine’s intention to enter will be announced in May. And it will be supported. Not by us, of course, but by NATO. The idea of Ukraine as a NATO member boggles the minds of Russian politicians so much that they don’t know how to react.

By the way, there was also no reaction from Moscow to Kyiv’s unconventional move to cancel the visa regime for European Union citizens.

In our Foreign Ministry it is whispered: everything’s gone crazy. Yushchenko has easily done what Moscow, afraid to give up its imperial pretensions (and also the consular payments on which our pauper Foreign Ministry lives), didn’t dream of doing in its worst nightmare. How could that be possible? We do visa regimes only mutually.

And what should we do now on the Russian-Ukrainian border? Stretch barbed wire along the perimeter? Initiate a visa regime for Ukrainians? Or maybe we should give up our boundary fetishism and understand that those who really need to get in will get in anyway, and those who just want to see the country should be welcomed with their money. I’m afraid it’s a complicated dilemma for our native border guards. And that’s all due to them, the hohols.

What if they think up something else? Something to do with the economy, or reforms, or Europeanization? What will we do then?

There’s only one last hope for our security. Who are these hohols? After all, they’re Little Russians, not some disciplined Germans. They will hopefully fade away into their own Slavic chaos.

Otherwise it’s all very uncomfortable for us. We’re already almost asleep, but they keep waking us up, over and over again.