MPs of "Freedom" faction Iryna Farion and Yuri Mikhalchyshyn have submitted a draft bill on exclusion of the term "Great Patriotic War" from history books and legal documents.

According to the authors of the draft bill, the term "Great Patriotic War" does not meet historical truth and contradicts European estimations of the World War II, which may affect the realization of Ukraine's eurointegration process. Moreover, this term is used in order to please ideological concept of the Russian Federation, President of which repeatedly said that Russia could have won the Great Patriotic War without Ukraine's participation.

"Independent Ukraine inherited a number of totalitarian myths of soviet period of its history, among which there is one about the "Great Patriot War"," the explanatory note to the bill says.

The new draft bill has caused heated discussions in the Ukrainian society, and it stands to mention that the initiative has more opponents than supporters.

According to the public opinion survey in the city-hero Kyiv, 80% of respondents stand against the "renaming" of the Great Patriotic War, and only 2% support the proposition of "Freedom" party.

There are also many opponents among MPs. In particular, MP of the Party of Regions Serhiy Gorohov is now preparing a draft bill to ban the use of the word "freedom" in the names of political unions, because the initiative on withdrawal of the term "Great Patriotic War" discredits the word "freedom" in Ukraine.

ForUm has asked experts and politicians to express opinion on the initiative and its possible consequences. 

Stanislav Kulchinski, Doctor of Historical Sciences, vice principle of the Institute of history of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences:

-According to the law of physics, any action generates a counteraction, and the bigger the action the stronger the reaction. Speaking about interpretation of history in independent Ukraine, this process went wrong from the very beginning. There was no educational campaign for the society to explain why we had to changes history books after the collapse of USSR. That's why this issue stirs up disputes in the society. It is obvious that every side wants to name its own heroes.

The question of history interpretation is very important, as history books form the mentality of our children and influence their perception of the country, as well as formation of patriotism or its full absence. However, it would be better if politicians did not interfere with the process of interpretation, as they often use such delicate questions as a mean to win the support of electorate.

Studying history is an exclusive right of scientists, and frankly speaking they do not have to invent a new history of XX century, as there are many documents which can help to dot all the "i"s. History is not wild guesses, but proved facts.

Vitaly Bala, political scientist, head of the Agency on simulated events:

- People rewrite history all the time. There used to be geometry of Ptolemy, then there was geometry of  Euclid and so on. History is also a science, the problem is that "rewriting of history" means different things for different people. For me and those who studied Stalin's short course of history nothing changed even when this course was removed from books. After all rewritings and re-estimations, the view of history remained the same. Generally speaking, rewriting of history is normal and even good, but not if it is re-estimated to please the government in office. It should be done only by scientists.

As for the term "Great Patriotic War", the discussions revolved about it way back when Iryna Farion was just born, especially in Western Ukraine. The population of western regions differs from others. The so-called socialistic transformation arrived there one generation late. In fact, the society, build all over Ukraine back in 30s, appeared in western regions only after the war. Moreover, older generation could tell their children about oppressions. Even when Khryshchyov dismissed Gulag and released people  being detained there, those people could not speak about what happened to them and about the famine of 1933, as they were forced to pledge to keep it a secret under the threat of being accused of anti-soviet propaganda. Moreover, western population felt oppressed by the soviet power and this spirit still weigh upon them.

As for the term "patriotic", it may concern the country as motherland or a political power, which are two different things. When the Ukrainian people found themselves under the heel of Hitler's occupation they had no choice but to fight it. For Ukrainians the war was  as patriotic as for any other nation who fought Nazis, including the Poles, the Byelorussians or nations of Baltic countries. Moreover, the history tells that the first patriotic war took place in 1812, and the Great Patriotic War of 1941 was the second patriotic war...I believe the name "Great Patriotic War" should exist.

Mykhailo Chechetov, member of the parliamentary committee on industrial and investment police, faction of the Party of Regions:

- Only cynical and immoral people could register similar draft bill. And supporters of this draft bill can include only supporters of anti-Semitism or opponents of the Victory Day.

I was shocked by the behavior of some young people, who attacked veterans of the Great Patriotic War in Lviv and burned down the flags of victory. I wonder how they would have behaved if had found themselves in those horrible times. Would they be able to protect our land as soviet soldiers did?

It was not European tanks and soldiers who freed Ukraine from German occupation, but the Soviet Army. If not for soviet troops, where would Europe and Ukraine be?

Serhiy Sobolev, MP ("Motherland" faction):

- Covering of Great Patriotic War history must be unbiased. Moreover, there is no need to whitewash the soviet history as well. I am sure there are interesting facts in it still unknown to public. However, this work must be done only by historians. Politicians should not interfere with these questions.

Dmytro Tabachnyk, former education minister:

- I think the matter concerns mental outfit of the authors of this draft bill. In his times pharaoh Tuthmose III tried to extinguish all memory of his aunt Hatshepsut and ordered the systematic erasure of her name from any monument she had built. Five thousand years have passed, but the memory of her still lives. Roman emperors used to eliminate the first saints and ban the word "Christian". They failed as well. Any political pressure on history is doomed to failure.

In my opinion, this draft bill is a political trick. History speaks about the Patriotic War of 1812, and though that war is also linked to Russian Empire, nobody proposes to changes its name...
The Great Patriotic War was a war on the territory of Ukraine, while WWII was worldwide. I am sorry that university-educated people do not understand those were two different wars. It seems authors of the draft bill did not study well the history at school.

Yevhen Leshan, political expert:

- We should ban politicians from messing about the history of our motherland. Who would have thought that similar insinuations would be made against the Great Patriotic War. We can have diverse political views, but nobody can trench on sacred. The powers that be believe they can abuse great archetypes of history and culture. My father would have said what they used to do to such "prohibiters" in his times... I'd rather save my breath.

Anyway, the truth is in people's hearts and memory, which keep the glory of fights against Nazis, and nobody can take away this truth.


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