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“After what I went through, the Russian language has lost all value for me”
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“After what I went through, the Russian language has lost all value for me”

Jam a Ukrainian writer who neither spoke nor wrote in Ukrainian for the first forty-five years of his life and who today communicates orally almost exclusively in Ukrainian and writes only in Ukrainian. For me, going back to my mother tongue Russian is absolutely impossible.

To even outline the reasons for this linguistic metamorphosis, we must nevertheless turn to the past. I was born in eastern Ukraine, in Donetsk, which is a Russian-speaking city. It was in Russian that my parents spoke to me when I was born, it was in Russian that I read my first books, I always spoke only Russian, I did my studies in Russian, in particular my studies of letters, at the University of Donetsk, which bears the name of the great Ukrainian dissident Vassyl Stous. I followed two courses, Russian literature and culturology. For the first, all the courses were given in Russian; for the second, the essential subjects were taught in Russian. I graduated as a teacher of Russian language and literature. In the early 1980s, this highly rated diploma was awarded at a Ukrainian university in Donetsk. I didn’t have to teach Russian because my writings were quickly published and I became a writer.

But letters in the broad sense were my first passion and my first vocation. My teachers knew the literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin personally, and I belong to his school of literary analysis. I started very early to write poems and texts in prose. Before the outbreak of the war, I repeatedly obtained an international literary prize awarded in Moscow called the “Russian Prize”, for novels written in Russian, of course. Some novels and short stories of which I am the author have been published in very old Russian literary journals and by very prestigious Russian publishing houses. Before the year 2014, the idea of ​​giving up Russian and choosing Ukrainian could not come to mind. It was the so-called “Russian Spring” that was the main cause of my language shift.


In the first months of 2014, the General Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Army General Staff deployed a number of groups in Donetsk to destabilize the situation. Throughout the spring, Russian agents tried to undermine the company’s bases in Donetsk and throughout the region. They tried to seize the regional prefecture: buses registered in Russia repeatedly brought in people who came to demonstrate in front of the prefecture and demanded in front of the cameras of Russian television channels, pretending to be Ukrainians, to be separated from Ukraine. It was about “making an image” for the media. Assassinations and repression of pro-Ukrainian activists have multiplied.

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