On the quasi-congress of “pseudo-Ukrainian diaspora”

Iryna Kliuchkovska: “Ukraine must act out of healthy national egoism”

In 2017, the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) celebrates its 50th anniversary. A whole series of events is planned on this occasion, and some of them have already taken place around the world. In particular, the Days of Ukrainian Diaspora were held in Lviv at the end of the summer, organized with the assistance of the International Institute of Education, Culture and Relations with the Diaspora (IIEC) of the Lviv Polytechnic National University.

Meanwhile, Russian media announced that the so-called “congress of the Ukrainian diaspora” would take place in Crimea soon. Director of the IIEC Iryna Kliuchkovska was the first to react to this information with a critical post on Facebook [on October 9. – Ed.]. Right after that The Day discussed this and other topical issues with her.


 Where did the idea of this fake congress in Crimea come from? Could it have been caused by the stir around the anniversary of the UWC?

“This message, which I accidentally stumbled upon online, is very telling. The so-called ‘congress of the Ukrainian diaspora’ in Crimea is part of the hybrid war that is currently being waged on Ukraine. It takes place not only in this country, but also in the wider world – in particular, where there are strong Ukrainian communities. We have had many examples of direct and indirect intrusion of the ‘Russian world’ in the activities of Ukrainian communities in Portugal, Greece, Italy, etc.

“The announcement of the ‘congress’ is only the first step. I think we should now expect statements allegedly on behalf of the Ukrainian diaspora which would support the Russian claims on Crimea and be in general supportive of the Russian Federation’s aggressive policies in Ukraine.

“Why has Russia intensified its actions right now? I think this is a reaction, in particular, to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the UWC, which became a major event this year not only in Lviv and Kyiv, but also throughout the world. The UWC is conducting important activities and raising during its roundtables and conferences the topics of the fate of Ukrainian political prisoners, information security of Ukraine, condemnation of the annexation of Crimea. UWC President Eugene Czolij meets regularly with senior officials from all EU countries, lobbying for Ukraine’s national interests and attracting their attention to Russian aggression. Of course, Russia cannot remain silent. It is trying to launch a mechanism that would confuse the matters so that people in the world would be unable to figure out what the Ukrainian diaspora stands for.

“We must be prepared to respond to this pressure. It is necessary to correctly react to all the problems related to the diaspora issue. Twenty million Ukrainians live abroad, but this large and integral part of our nation remains a terra incognita for Ukraine.

“The number of Ukrainians leaving the country will grow. The current trends clearly show it. Our institute also conducted a study of youth migration. The results should worry us all. The outflow of people from the country is a direct threat to national security. At the same time, we do not have programs for returning Ukrainians home and attracting the intellectual capital of those who have left. Meanwhile, our eastern neighbors understand all these nuances. Let me recall here the words of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who said that ‘rabid Ukrainian diaspora’ shaped the policies of Canada. This is a fitting assessment of the importance of the Ukrainian diaspora abroad as a whole.”


 In your recent report “Ukrainian Communities Abroad: Integration vs. Assimilation,” you touched on, in particular, the subject of the reaction of Hungary and a number of other European states to the adoption of the Law “On Education.” What is your main message in this context?

“The issue of Ukrainian communities abroad and within depends directly on such concepts as national egoism and solidarity of nations. A country must act out of healthy national egoism and defend its own interests in the first place. And this is natural. It is another matter that a country should not abandon the concept of solidarity of nations where possible. It is important to act in unison with other states in various spheres: political, economic, and cultural. However, upholding one’s own national interest should be the dominant objective. One should not be too altruistic to the point of forgetting one’s own needs, as often happens with us.

“The situation with the Law ‘On Education’ stirred up the public not only in Ukraine, but also abroad. The countries that oppose this law act out of national egoism alone. It must be understood that modern ethnic minorities inside this country are a serious boon for their countries of origin. In particular, we are talking about abovementioned Hungary here, which has in Ukraine a body of people who know their language, culture, and history well. By the way, these are the very principles upon which the educational process is based. Getting a ready-made workforce, which you do not need to retrain, is an important economic factor. Ethnic minorities are a significant factor in the governments’ policies.

“Regarding the Law ‘On Education,’ we should, while adhering, in particular, to the European legislation on ethnic minorities, we nevertheless must act out of our own national interest. It is nonsense when children are studying in a school without knowing the language of the state in which they live. It is important to be able to say ‘no.’ Ukraine needs to take a clear position and not to backtrack on the declared decision. The law was passed by the parliament and signed by the president. A step back would become a sign of our weakness. Such issues, in particular, those of national security, need to be resolved based on inner strength. It is the strong party’s position that is always taken into account and respected.

“Ukraine needs to take a similar well-balanced stance on protecting its co-ethnics abroad. From this situation, we also need to draw a lesson. Every Ukrainian citizen or citizen of another country who identifies themselves with Ukraine should know that they will be protected by Ukraine, which must respond appropriately to any challenges and defend the rights of these citizens.”


 The IIEC and Den have long been fruitfully cooperating. We cannot help but ask about your impressions from the latest addition to our Library series...

“The Crown, or Heritage of the Rus’ Kingdom has already become my go-to book. I call this book and all Den’s Library series a road to myself. The fact that Den’s books are not one-off projects is impressive. Each new book fits into the whole system being developed by the publication. Step by step, Den implements its basic concepts through these books.

“Den is an educational project that includes a newspaper as well as books, a photo exhibition, and other initiatives. Now we are reforming the educational sector: the content of education changes, as does the approach, and the teacher themselves. I am confident that sooner or later, the intellectual work done by Den will also be integrated into the educational process. This is important because we must give young generations, which will continue to build up this country, the principal tool which is the intellectual capital. It is this knowledge that will help us realize the need to create a national elite which cannot be done by merely imitating Western or Eastern models. We have to develop our own platform on which we will form a national elite. It will not be possible to do this without looking back to the past. Den sets this vector of movement so that we, through studying the lessons of the past, shape the future.

“Publications in the book and on the pages of the newspaper make Ukrainians feel the nation’s greatness. This must be understood by all, in particular, children and young people. After all, we are not homeless orphans of history, as there are grandiose human pillars behind us, on which it is necessary to build up our domestic policies and form a national elite. The Crown is a book which, as Larysa Ivshyna likes to say, should be read with a pencil. One needs to sit down, read and reflect on it. The teacher who will come to the reformed school must understand that the younger generation needs to be educated not only through the analysis of past mistakes, but also through our history of greatness and victories. This is emphasized by Den on the pages of the newspaper and in its books.

“The Crown reveals important pages of our existence, helps one to find points to stand on. Impressively, the book pays special attention to Viacheslav Lypynsky. According to historian Ihor Hyrych, who gave an interview for an article in the book, ‘the works of Lypynsky are the third Ukrainian Bible, after Kobzar and Mykhailo Hrushevsky’s A History of Ukraine-Rus’. In addition, this book prompts interesting reflections on the issue of monarchy.

“When reading Den, I always learn something. We do not only collect information from it. We also borrow and imitate the forms and methods used by Den. I have always been pleased with Den’s educational tours of Ukraine along with its photo exhibition. To mark the 50th anniversary of the UWC, we have also prepared a major exhibition. We decided that the best educational move would be a tour of Ukraine, where we will discuss the UWC with various groups. We will start on October 17 with the opening of the exhibition at the Verkhovna Rada. Why will we do it there? It is important for us to get the laws that are relevant to the Ukrainian diaspora perfected, and amendments made to the Law ‘On Ukrainians Abroad.’ Next, the exhibition will go to Poltava, Dnipro, and Zaporizhia. At the second stage, we plan to travel to towns of Lviv region. Meanwhile, with the third and fourth stages, we plan to cover eastern and southern Ukraine.

“We need to know ourselves: what we are like both there – abroad – and here. When traveling around Ukraine, we will talk about the UWC’s activities. However, I will definitely take with me a copy of The Crown and will talk about it as well. After all, The Crown is a pillar which we all need to hold fast to.”


For our part, The Day’s team thanks Kliuchkovska for her consistent and clear position and sincerely congratulates her on her birthday, which she celebrated on October 16! We wish her more strength to continue on her difficult but extremely important path!

Photo by Artem SLIPACHUK, The Day




Olena OSTAPCHUK, a college teacher, the city of Kryvyi Rih:

“I am not a historian, I teach pedagogy and psychology to future teachers. Various information sources deliberately falsify historical facts now; therefore, I have grown even more desirous of a book in which the logic of the historical development of our state would be presented in an accessible and laconic form. The Crown, or Heritage of the Rus’ Kingdom is just such a book. I use the text of the book in the educational work with my students (we read and discuss the articles). Unfortunately, the teachers themselves do not have true and solid knowledge about the history of Ukraine, so we need to catch up on that as well.

“Listening to the speeches of Den’s editor-in-chief Larysa Ivshyna on the national TV channels, I learned about her historical and cultural civic initiative, in particular, about this historical collection having been published. By the way, Ivshyna’s speeches are VERY convincing, well-qualified, accessible to the general public (and moreover, they are delivered in such a pleasant voice, without hysteria which we so often witness), so please, make them a regular broadcast! The opportunity to hear such important information firsthand occurs much too rarely.

“I have joined Den’s community on Facebook and received an informational message about the book. The low price for such a comprehensive edition + photo reproductions are a pleasant bonus! Therefore, I did not hesitate to order a copy.

 Impressions from the concept of the book

• The structure of the text is convenient for processing, as it includes small articles and short sentences.

• Historical facts are presented at an accessible level, which does not diminish their scholarly validity.

• In each article, principal points are highlighted, which facilitates understanding; the attention of the reader gets attracted by interesting facts.

• It combines different genres: classic research papers and interviews.

• Another advantage is a significant number of quotes, which makes presentation more convincing. And this is very important! Describing and proving are different in the strength of their impact.

• History overlaps with modernity, historical data with geographical and cultural ones, and personalization of history is also a significant factor.

• Book design converts reading into a comfortable process as the book features a well-chosen font, cover, and format.

“But most importantly, we, ordinary citizens, have in it a rare opportunity to return to our historical origins and build our future properly. Such a book should be held by every school, both secondary and college-level.

“I thank the creative team for their act of civic virtue!”

P.S.: “I am advertising the book everywhere.”