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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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Self-expression of Ukrainians and Russians by proverbs

The book called "Self-expression of the Ukrainians and Russians by proverbs. Ukraine is not Russia" was published in 2005 by the publisher League Press in Lviv. The full text of the book with minor additions is given here. Corrections are mainly related to the need to more clearly define the difference between national character and social consciousness. But a significant change was made in the structure of the book – German and Spanish folklore was placed not in the end, but during the presentation.


The first version of this paper was written at the time of the so-called «perestroyka» when the communist party leadership of the Soviet Union, trying to contain the collapse of communism and the collapse of the empire, was looking for ways to enhance the creative activity of citizens in their own interests. Declared «openness» allowed writers and academics raise for considering that was under strict taboo before. However, the sad experience of being in «big zone» and the old repressive apparatus which «rebuilt» itself very slowly, forced the authors to be very careful to deliver according to the reader in a veiled form, allusions, allegorical, hoping that the people will understand by their mind what silent the author. Such attempt was made by the author in the article «On the study of national character Ukrainian and Russian» published in the third issue of "Yevshan-Zilla" that came out in 1987-1990 in Ukraine’s samizdat.

«Perestroyka» has long faded into the past, the Soviet empire collapsed irrevocably and Ukraine became an independent state where scientists were able to do their research in unprecedented freedom for choosing methods and themes. However, those wishing to explore ethnopsychology of Ukrainians and Russian by the proposed method was not found. Meanwhile, this topic for the development of the Ukrainian state is extremely important when the majority of Ukrainian citizens mistakenly identifies themselves with Russians in origin, language, common historical past. When our north-eastern neighbor still has imperial ambitions, such installation of Ukrainians may jeopardize the integrity of Ukrainian state. During the recent political development topic separatism individual regions suddenly emerged and during demonstrations flags of neighboring states in the crowd can often be seen that the most zealous enemies of Ukrainian statehood would like to join. Of course, the majority of Ukrainians intuits the difference between himself and the Russians, but haw deep the difference is they are often unaware. However national idea without understanding this difference will be fruitless.

However, in the Ukrainian society, you can sea growing interest in understanding the typical traits of the national character of Ukrainians. But this topic affects more publicists than scientists. Obviously, humanities scholars constrains inexperience in applying effective mathematical methods, and perhaps skepticism about the existence of common mental characteristics of individual nations and therefore of the concept of «ethnic psychology». Usually this term is understood as a form of social consciousness together typical moral and psychological traits mostly representatives of some of the nation, which are manifested in their behavior and activities. Many scientists believe that combination exists. Lev Kopelev just claims that a sense of national character is formed spontaneously by natural under the influence of various factors – hereditary traits, previous historical experience, moral and ethical standards in society, geographical conditions, as well as a result of deliberate, conscious activity of all sorts of religious, educational and cultural institutions.