UCQ Statement regarding “Slav Fest 2023”
The Ukrainian Community of Queensland Inc. (UCQ) takes a stand against the upcoming “Slav Fest 2023” and encourages our members, all Ukrainians as well as other communities and their members to follow suit.
Pan-Slavism is an ideology that seeks to celebrate the unity of different Slavic nations and cultures. However, it has been appropriated by Russian nationalists and imperialists (Ruscists) to legitimise their narrative that Russians are the archetypal Slavs, and that other Slavic nations within the “Russian World,” such as Belarus and Ukraine, are merely diminutive “little Russian” subcultures.
UCQ believes that this appropriation of Pan-Slavism is not only unhelpful but also inappropriate and downright offensive, especially given the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. Celebrations of Pan-Slavism also detract from the reality of modern nations, which are multi-ethnic and multicultural. Ukraine does not only consist of “ethnic Ukrainians” but also Crimean Tatars, Hebrews, and dozens of other Slavic and non-Slavic cultural identities.
The Ukrainian ethnic groups also exist in lands that historically were considered Ukraine, such as Lemkos in eastern Poland, and Kuban Cossacks in Russia. In this regard, Ukraine has no designs on the reincorporation of these territories or populations.
The “Russian World” flavour of Pan-Slavism is conveniently ignorant of the ethnolinguistic composition of the modern Russian Federation. Russia has Finno-Ugric, Uralic, Turkic, and Mongol minorities and haplogroups, among others. However, these minorities are often treated as second-class citizens compared to “Slavic” Russians, and this has been highlighted by the disproportionately high conscription of soldiers from Russia’s minority groups for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the past, the UCQ has had piecemeal participation in Slav Fest, including providing a letter of support for the event in 2020 after Ukrainians were invited to and reluctantly participated in the previous event. A Ukrainian dance ensemble participated in the 2019 event.
From its earliest inception, committee members were disproportionately Russian, and seats to ticketed events were disproportionately distributed to the Russian community. Our community has also seen cultural appropriation by Russian ensembles, and the term “little brothers” has been carelessly thrown around.
Given Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we find it concerning that the organisers of Slav Fest 2023 made no mention of the sensitivity of the situation, or any undertakings to ensure that the actions of the Russian Federation would be publicly condemned and support for the invasion prohibited.
The UCQ acknowledges that many Russian-Australians condemn the bloodshed and violence caused by the Russian Federation. There is also a substantial number of Russians and sympathisers who are enthusiastic about wearing symbols that promote Russia’s imperialistic goals.
Recently, an event at Sydney Town Hall organised by the Russian Orthodox Church as a celebration of “Orthodox Choral Tradition” was hijacked as a platform for persons wearing “Z” t-shirts.
We are not confident that Slav Fest would not also have a similar occurrence, and that Ukrainians who might attend Slav Fest would no doubt be exposed to the Ruscist “Z” symbol. Given that there are a large number of Ukrainian displaced persons in South East Queensland, we have no desire to see people further traumatised, having already had soldiers and tanks with the “Z” symbol killing their families and destroying their homes.
Therefore, UCQ announces that it will not participate in Slav Fest 2023 and urges other communities and their members to do the same. We believe that it is time to take a stand against the appropriation of Pan-Slavism and condemn the actions of the Russian Federation. UCQ stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and all those who fight for their independence and cultural and national identity.
This year, the Ukrainian Community of Queensland Inc. will hold its annual Ukrainian Festival on Saturday, August 26th 2023, to commemorate Ukrainian Independence Day.
Slava Ukraini! Слава Україні!