Eternal Russia-Ukraine: Crimea as a “unifying birthplace”?
Crimea is still on the news. Much is said and much is not. Medias depict the story as if Russia and Ukraine have never had a shared history and geography and spirituality. And Crimea itself is depicted as the place of division and problems, a “decentring” place where forces diverge and get into tension.
Eternal Russia of Glazunov
I thought a lot of Ilya Glazunov’s painting-icon Eternal Russia, painted in 1988 for the 1000 anniversary of Russia, and which is a history of the Russian Peoples since the beginning and till today. This work of art can explain what Russia and Ukraine are to each other: The Eternal Russia of….. Russia is represented by her great sons and daughters. Dostoevsky is in the middle, holding candles along with a child who has the looks of Alexei Tsesarevich Romanov, martyr and symbol of all victims of the woes and crimes of the Red Revolution and Communism… But is Dostoevsky Russian? Are his Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot Russian? Or they are Ukrainian maybe? And Pushkin? And Tchaikovsky? Tolstoy? And others?? Is the Vladimirskaya herself, being the protector of the Land and its miraculous centre, Russian or Ukrainian? The Russian cross itself?
Where is the divide line between what belongs to Russia and what belong to Ukraine in this painting?!
Crimea as a baptismal font and as a beginning of Russia and Ukraine
In fact Eternal Russia is ancestor and finality of both the Russian Federation and the Ukraine. Kievan Rus’ was the ancestor state of both. The Russian Empire was also the mother of both… And Crimea is the baptismal font of both! In Cherson, near the actual Sebastopol and then a part of the East Roman Empire, Vladimir the First, or Saint Vladimir the Great, was baptised and thus the state he ruled, Kievan Rus’, followed him into Christianity and was born into Christendom and the Judeo-Christian tradition of civilisation. In this regard Crimea is the “beginning of everything” of Russia and Ukraine, it is the “Annunciation Day” for both.
After becoming part of Christendom Kievan Rus’ then the Russian Empire have always participated in the construction of the European identity. Europe would never be Europe without this active Russian participation in all domains of civilization: science, literature, politics, and philosophy, amongst others. The birthplace and the “womb” of this great culture was the very Crimea. In this Russian Empire what we know today as the Russian Federation and the Ukraine were one, and both shared the production of all those participations. Dostoevsky and Tolstoy were as much Ukrainian as Russian. Alexei Tsesarevich and his Romanov ancestors were the royals of All Russias, the “Greater” and the “Lesser”, that is, today’s Russia and Ukraine.
I have a dream, far from being a realistic one but still, it is a beautiful dream: that Crimea can be under a co-sovereignty of both Russia and the Ukraine. It does belong to the history of both and by being the “spiritual birthplace” of both it can play the role of connection and of communion instead of the one of division. A womb unifies the brothers and sisters and does not divide them or set them apart…
For more information please visit the paintings page on the site of the artist, Ilya Glazunov, URL: http://www.glazunov.ru/EN/KartinayGal_gl.htm
Image credit: Ilya Glazunov’s site.