A Ukrainian Carol
By Troy Morash
This was written several years ago when Kuchma was still the President of Ukraine. There were a few feeble attempts to publish it but unless you have lived in Ukraine (and especially during this time) it probably won't make much sense so the only alternative was to post it here.
It was August 23rd; Independence Day Eve and Leonid Kuchma, the President of Ukraine was sitting in his office, making deals. Suddenly he got a phone call from the rotating President of the European Union who invited Ukraine to begin talks on becoming a partner and member of the European Union.
‘But there will be many things you’ll have to do, like improve roads, tax systems, human rights, health codes, fight crime and promote freedom of speech.’
‘Bah! We don’t need the European Union that bad. What do you think I am anyway, a philanthropist?’ cried the President and hung up the phone.
Shortly afterwords he received another phone call from the President of the Ukrainian dynasty in Canada.
‘We would like it very much to have the opportunity that in Ukraine citizens can have two passports like in Russia and other countries.’
‘Humbug! What for, so you can come here and make Ukraine like every other country? You abandoned us, so you can very well stay where you are for all I care.’
Later some people came from a charitable organization asking the President to create better social services for the poor.
He sighed. ‘What poor! Look around you. Look at this office for example, there is nothing like it even in the West. Go to my house, you will not see anything better. You will never see such success stories in America of a man from a poor village becoming the President and amassing great wealth. Go visit my friends. Everywhere I go in Ukraine the roads are paved and the buildings look nice. You are exaggerating; get out of my office.’
Then came members of the Party ‘Our Ukraine’, petitioning the President for honest and open elections.
‘But of course,’ he smiled.
That evening Leonid was sitting at home when suddenly a ghost appeared before him.
‘What the hell is this?’ thought the President.
‘I am Lazarenko, the good part that died long ago which is forced to wear these chains and automobile parts around my neck for the sins my bad half has committed, the part that only thinks about itself and money. But I am here to help you. You have a chance to escape my terrible fate. Tonight three ghosts will visit you,’ and with that the ghost of the good side of Lazarenko vanished.
Leonid went to bed and fell asleep. But during the night he was awoken. An old man dressed in a dress from the Elizabethan age appeared before him.
‘I am the ghost of Independence Day Past,’ shrilled the gay ghost.
The jovial ghost took Leonid back to the first fight for independence of Ukraine and the President was forced to watch nationalists die at the hands of the Bolsheviks. Then he was taken to 1932-33 to witness millions of Ukrainians starve to death. Then he was taken to the Chernobyl disaster and forced to watch as people slowly died from radiation exposure. He was forced to witness Vladimir Shcherbitsky, the Communist hardliner in the 70’s and 80’s suppress Ukrainian nationalism. Leonid watched as dissidents were arrested and treated harshly. He watched as Shcherbitsky fought against the use of the Ukrainian language.
‘Stop! Stop! Show me no more, I beg you,’ whimpered Kuchma. The gay ghost, who couldn’t stop laughing, brought the weeping President back to his mansion. The president fell into a deep and blissful slumber. But soon afterwords he was awoken again.
‘I am the Ghost of Independence Day Present, I think.’ The ghost was in fact drunk to the ankles and drooling all over himself.
He took Kuchma to Odessa, Ukraine. There he witnessed a family without electricity, without water, and the telephone wasn’t working and police were banging on their door obviously looking for the wrong person. Then the ghost took the President to an office where some policemen were torturing a detainee with an electric stun gun, pressuring him to confess to a murder he hadn’t committed. He watched as people were stopped in the streets for no reason and forced to show their documents and if they didn’t have their documents, he watched them pay money to avoid the police station. Leonid was forced to watch Ukrainian TV and the boring programs of ‘Santa Barbara’ reruns. He was forced to ride the crowded trolleybus and had his wallet stolen. He watched as police vandalized a store only to return the next morning offering the owners their services as guards and then watched after they had been hired as night guards come and steal everything. He watched doctors extort money from unsuspecting patients and treating people for illnesses they didn’t even have. He watched children pay bribes to their teachers for better marks.
Kuchma felt sad and cried. ‘But there is nothing I can do about it,’ he whimpered.
But the drunk ghost was just getting started, for the ghost of the Present was the cruelest of all.
He took Kuchma to the market and they watched how people bought spoiled food and drank dirty water. He was forced to witness hungry children begging in the streets and then smoking cigarettes and sniffing glue. He was forced to ride the worst roads in all the cities, all of which he had never been down. He was made to watch an operation in a hospital while the cleaners were cleaning the floor and repainting the walls.
‘Can’t we do something to help these people,’ Kuchma asked.
Soon Kuchma was home again, and in bed. He cuddled up to his wife for fear that he would be dragged away by the third ghost.
But soon enough, the third ghost appeared.
‘Are you the ghost of Independence Day Future,’ Kuchma stammered in fear.
The ghost did not answer. It was dressed in a black cloak and shivered. They visited scenes of the future. Economic embargoes, attacks from all sides, famine, disease, dead people littering the streets, revolution and finally historians hundreds of months in the future talking about the similarities between Stalin and Kuchma.
‘That’s not fair!’ cried Leonid. ‘I’m nothing like Stalin. Don’t people realize how hard it is? But can’t things be different? It doesn’t have to be this way, does it?’
The next morning Leonid opened the window to his mansion and yelled at a boy below, ‘What day is it?’
‘Why, sir it is Ukraine’s Independence Day,’ replied the young boy.
The President was elated. He gave the boy money to buy the biggest Ukrainian flag he could find. Then he ran to his office and lowered taxes, especially the import and export taxes. He fired thousands of corrupt officials, almost everyone in fact, and made a law for all Ukrainians to have double citizenship publicly begging everyone who had left to return and build a new Ukraine. He gave millions to charities. He called the European Union and said that he would do everything they wanted. He fixed the roads and paid the police normal salaries, halving corruption in a day. He allowed UN observers to help teach the police how to be good, he allowed freedom of speech, and always enjoyed reading the newspapers about himself, especially whenever there were unpleasant things about him, because now he was eager to learn to know himself, just as Socrates had.
Soon Ukraine was the richest, freest, cleanest and happiest country in the whole world. And whenever anyone talked about Kuchma, they all said that that was a man, who knew how to lead his country and every country in the world envied Ukraine, and said, ‘If we only had a man like Kuchma for our President!’