The World of Closed Doors: the Ukrainian Dimension



  • The planet is changing, whether we like it or not. Over the last year my social media feeds have been replenished with more than one, two or even several dozens of obituaries of people with whom I interacted recently. Some of those who passed away were very young - forty-two years, thirty-five, even twenty-eight… However, for most of my compatriots, all anti-epidemic measures continue to cause misunderstanding and rejection. There is a number of reasons for this, most of which are a consequence of Ukraine's soviet past. Maybe, it will be difficult for a person unfamiliar with Ukrainian realities to understand, so I will try to explain what's going on here...

    The Soviet Union taught its citizens a simple truth: everything outside of your home does not apply to you. That is why in Ukraine, for example, it is a completely normal situation when the flats of ordinary people - shiny, cleaned to the smallest speck flats, furnished with taste - are in the half-abandoned houses, that haven't seen repairs for decades. Imagine a house, where the second generation of its residents hadn't seen a working elevator for their entire lives!.. Maybe, I described a little exaggerated situation, but I dare to say that usually everything looks like that. More or less.

    The fact that Ukrainians are fighting against the need to wear masks is not even surprising. Doctors note that the mask may not protect you, but it protects from you - if you've got a disease without sympthoms, for instance. In other words, you reduce the likelihood of infecting someone nearby, when you are wearing a mask.

    Here in Ukraine people are not accustomed to thinking for their neighbors - and that is why any attempts to introduce anti-epidemic measures cause persistent public opposition. Many of Ukrainians complain that the mask is uncomfortable, it's difficult to breathe it it, and in general they feel like dogs in muzzles… Only a few of these people wonder how "uncomfortable" could they feel under the ventilator in the hospital. Nobody cares, that against this background the mask looks less evil.

    Ukraine has been living in quarantine for the last year. The first restrictions were introduced in March 2020. However, even during the rage of the pandemic Ukrainians are mostly trying to lead a normal life and they have an extremely negative attitude to anything that makes certain "adjustments" to the normal rhythm of life.

    If you are about to travel by public transport nowadays in Ukraine, be prepared to see passengers without masks at all, or with masks worn incorrectly, so that the nose remains uncovered. The most interesting thing is that other people in the metro [underground railway here in Kyiv - auth.] or in the bus cabin don't make remarks to others who want to ride without a mask, because they're in the risk of getting a punch in a face and/or losing their teeth. Be sure that law enforcement officers will arrive for that sort of a call in forty minutes… or they may not arrive at all. With about the same "zeal", the Ukrainian police checks the observance of quarantine requirements by Ukrainians not only in transport or on the streets, but also in the cafes, shops, and places of large crowds. 😞

    The people themselves are just happy to stay against the system, to fight it (by not wearing the masks, of course), so they take off their masks as soon as the right opportunity arises. From time to time, protests of various kinds are outraged here: entrepreneurs who are dissatisfied with the temporary restrictions on the operation of their business; supporters of various global conspiracy theories, such as chipping people while vaccinating, the activities of the so-called world government and other nonsense... This is an incomplete list of those who periodicity flood the streets of major cities here in Ukraine.

    At the same time, the official Ukrainian virus statistics is a little questionable. According to unverified rumors from medical circles, statistics are both overestimated and underestimated depending on the specific circumstances. Moreover, Ukrainians are used to seek for medical attention only as a last resort (in the Soviet Union there was a saying: "Doctors can cure you to death" - because they can!), so the percent of ill people taking into account patients who stubbornly do not seek help has to be around twice or three times larger, I guess.

    In those conditions - conditions of uncertainty, incomprehensibility and some rapid changes in the usual rhythm of life - many Ukrainians have come to the conclusion that it is easier to abstract from any news about the virus than to try to understand what is really happening. These are the sad Ukrainian realities, if we try to describe them briefly.

    One American blogger who had been living in Kyiv for over 2 years said the right phrase, I think: "Ukrainians have endured so many difficult trials in their history that the virus looks like a trivial problem in their eyes". I think it's true, but partially: the blogger didn't notice the above-mentioned soviet upbringing, according to which it is not necessary to take care of other people around us. "Think for yourself only", yup.

    I have to add that our government's steps against the pandemic are also strange: f.e., during the so-called "hard lockdown" the public transport was working absolutely as usual, and most institutions also were, while it was impossible to buy matches, socks, shampoos, lighters and even toilet paper in the shops. It's totally unknown what the authorities were thinking of when making such a decisions.

    No matter what, the wave of the illness continues here in Ukraine. The so-called "British" strain of the virus has not yet reached our country, but I am afraid that it will happen soon. I don't know how Ukraine is going to fight it. We'll see.

    All I have to do is wish everyone good health, no matter what country you are from. Hold on! We will definitely overcome everything.

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