From Ukraine to The Ruin

Editor’s and Translator’s Notes:

I continue to bring you my translations of the witty and brilliant slain Ukrainian author, Oles Buzina (1969-2015). His was one of the first prominent political assassinations after the 2014 regime change in that country. This article comes from the author’s series, “Stories from Oles Buzina,” in which he mainly covers different aspects of Ukrainian history. Here, the author establishes what, in his view, is a cyclical nature of Ukrainian history, in which the territory went through periods of chaos and collapse. In some cases, the geographic division occurred along the Dnieper River and the inhabitants of its Right and Left Banks, respectively.

“The Ruin” is an accepted historical term used to describe the period of social and political unrest in the latter part of the 17th century. In the Russian and Ukrainian languages, “ruina,” ruin, rhymes with “Ukraina,” Ukraine. The author warns against returning to such a chaotic state of affairs when he discusses the rule of the pro-Western President Victor Yushchenko who was brought into power in the wake of the so-called Orange Revolution, an early 21st-century proto-Maidan. Leaving power in 2010, he was replaced by Victor Yanukovich, an imperfect, but democratically elected leader who was ousted by the violent 2014 coup d’etat. Thus, the reader may appreciate Buzina’s prescience, writing this text in 2007, in light of the current events. In particular, the geopolitical and cultural split along the Dnieper River is especially noteworthy.

Oles Buzina’s mother at his grave following her son’s 2015 assassination. Source: Rossiia TV.

The text is generally presented as is with the exception of minor contextual and/or clarifying edits or e.g. inserting the first names for clarity. The transliteration of the names comes from the Russian language, in which most of the original text was written.

«The Eyewitness wrote his chronicle in the 17th century, so there is no reason not to believe him. Starting with the brutal massacre in Poltava, Cossacks of different affiliations killed each other for another twenty years asking for help from either the Poles, the Muscovites, or even the Turks. For and against Europe.»

Oles Buzina, 2007

From Ukraine to The Ruin

by Oles Buzina


If God willing, our state will overcome the current ruin in the minds and does not fall apart into two halves, then next year we will be able to celebrate 350 years since its first “half-collapse” with a clear conscience.

In 1658, for the first time, our society was divided on the following question: where will we go? Ivan Vygovsky, like today’s Victor Yushchenko, summoned everyone to Europe. That is, under Poland’s jurisdiction. But the east of Ukraine did not listen to him. And, the said hetman, having grabbed a completely non-European Tatar horde, moved to punish the pro-Moscow Left Bank from the Right Bank of the Dnieper River: from Chigirin, his capital. He introduced, so to speak, direct presidential rule. And, as a result, he marked the beginning of a period that went down in history under the eloquent name The Ruin.

The Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks [to the Turkish Sultan in 1676], Ilya Repin, 1880-91.
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The Story of a Real Man

This interview initially appeared in Komsomolskaya Pravda on December 7, 2022. It was entitled, “A Pilot of the Russian Aerospace Forces: ‘We decided not to give up. The navigator took the grenade, and I pulled the ring out of it.'”

Editor’s Note:

The Story of a Real Man by Boris Polevoy (1946) referenced below is about Soviet fighter ace Alexey Maresyev (1916-2001). During World War II, Maresyev’s plane was shot down but he managed to return to the Soviet side. He was injured so severely that both of his legs had to be amputated above the knee due to gangrene. Not only was Maresyev able to recover but he returned to flying a year later, in 1943, despite his disability. In total, he is credited with 80 combat sorties. Maresyev earned Hero of the Soviet Union. In 1947-48, renowned composer Sergei Prokofiev turned Marasyev’s experience into an opera.

In the original Russian title, “man” refers to a “person” (chelovek), but the standard English translation is “man.”

2016 Russian stamp featuring WWII hero Marsyev. Source: Wikipedia Commons (public domain).

Pilot Pyotr Kashtanov, awarded Hero of Russia, defeated the enemy and escaped being captured. Kashtanov successfully carried out his combat mission and destroyed enemy equipment. However, the crew was hit and catapulted into enemy territory. The “nationalists” were close by, while his comrade was unconscious…

Source: Pyotr Kashtanov’s personal photo archive.

On the eve of Heroes of the Fatherland Day [December 9], Komsomolskaya Pravda journalists met with an officer whose airplane was shot down over enemy territory. Yet he completed his combat mission and, despite being wounded, led the crew to rejoin the Russian troops.

Not very tall, humble, and seemingly very young, the senior lieutenant tries to be sociable and relaxed.

– Pyotr, he extends his right hand.

Based on his weak handshake, as if it were unnaturally constrained, we understand that the pilot has not yet fully recovered. In September, his Su-34 fighter bomber was shot down over enemy territory, while on a combat mission in the Special Operation zone [during the international conflict taking place in Ukraine]. The situation was hopeless. He had a broken arm, while the navigator had a compression fracture of the spine. There were enemies all around. Yet by some miracle, both managed to get out and reached their own comrades.

And now, sitting in front of us, as if descended from the pages of Boris Polevoy’s The Story of a Real Man, is Pyotr Kashtanov, a Russian officer. The star of the Hero of Russia sparkles on the chest of this 31-year-old…

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