Slavs come together at Robson Square

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Tensions are running high between Ukrainians and Russians in Toronto, but relations aren’t nearly as strained in Vancouver, according to Andrew Ahachinsky of the Russian Theatre Palme.

      In an interview at the Georgia Straight office, Ahachinsky said that there is a "lot of grief" in the Ukrainian diaspora—including those of Russian ancestry—about the political situation in Ukraine.

      "People are saddened by what's happening there," he said.

      But he noted that there are no signs of conflict within the community in Greater Vancouver.

      Instead of hosting its annual Russia Day event, his theatre group, has decided to put on a free Slavic Day celebration on Saturday (June 14) beginning at noon at Robson Square.

      There will be Slavic folk performers, children’s games, and costumes on display from Serbia, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic.

      “We don’t want to differentiate Russians from Ukrainians,” Ahachinsky said. “We are the brother countries and we should hold together and represent our culture.”

      He noted that the different Slavic countries have many things in common, including similar food, folk dancing, religious views, and languages.

      But he also acknowledged differences both within and between countries.

      For instance in Bulgaria, where he taught acting classes last year, there's a "different energy" in the north than in the south.

      As for Slavic Day in Vancouver, he described it as "one big ornament where we're all going to be coming together".

      "It's all going to be well mixed so people will get all the flavours of the Slavic culture," Ahachinsky said. "I think it's actually the first kind of festival like this."


      We're now using Facebook for comments.



      Jun 11, 2014 at 6:40pm

      There will be no sane Ukrainian joining the "festival" It only proves the fact that Ukrainian and Russian are not only different, they are mutually exclusive

      Ukrainian in Vancouver

      Jun 11, 2014 at 7:54pm

      Ukrainian community in Vancouver is extremely outraged because of Russian aggression in Ukraine, which is of course causes tensions within local ethnic Ukrainian and Russian communities. As part of the global information war between Russia and Ukraine, some individuals, like above mentioned Mr. Ahachinsky, trying to mislead Canadian community spreading Putin inspired propaganda about "brother nations", which the same ridiculous as the concept of Russia as a "Slavic country". Instead of facing the truth and calling out to his Russian compatriots to get out of Ukraine, stop the bloodshed and Nazi-style occupation, Mr. Ahachinsky organizes "friendship festival". Agree that no sane Ukrainian would be part of such hypocritical move. As for the journalists who put together this article - next time pls publish also opinion of the representatives of Ukrainian community, not Russians speaking on behalf of Ukrainians.


      Jun 11, 2014 at 8:11pm

      Unfortunately I cannot agree with author's statement that "there are no signs of conflict within the community in Greater Vancouver." Fortunately the conflict is limited to online "discussions" (although the online "flame wars" full of insults and sometimes even threats can hardly be called "discussions") and few verbal altercations at a protest organized by local Ukrainian community (local Ukrainians protested a visit of a Russian celebrity who endorsed aggression against Ukraine)


      Jun 11, 2014 at 8:15pm

      I also cannot agree that the statement referring to Russia and Ukraine as "“We are the brother countries and we should hold together and represent our culture.” Unfortunately due to Russia's aggression against and Ukraine and support of terrorists operating in Ukraine, Russia and Ukraine have a long way to go before they can be called "brotherly" again


      Jun 11, 2014 at 8:20pm

      Gladly there is more sane people in Vancouver that are joining and supporting various multicultural festivals, thus helping support multiculturalism in Canada. You are not doing yourself or any community a favor by sharing your opinion that is obviously uneducated. As every Canadian, you probably should enjoy what Canada gives us and multiculturalism and tolerance are a few to name. Us as immigrants have an opportunity to find an understanding and support each other as Slavs, we have no reason to fight, we have are not involved in International affairs, but we can do a great deal to preserve our cultures and educate our kids living in peace and not hater.I'm sure you will revise your thinking at one point in your life and will contribute to communities that you serve as a citizen.

      Global Citizen

      Jun 11, 2014 at 9:08pm

      Slav, why do you think that your comment is more educated than that of other people? Canada is a free country and everyone has a right to speak their mind in a respectful way. Ukrainian community is obviously going through a very difficult time right now and all they asked was for journalists to research the issue better and in a more balanced way so that Canadians can get a better view of the situation.

      Leonid L

      Jun 11, 2014 at 9:09pm

      Putin is not Russia, and Poroshenko is not Ukraine. Politics and personal ambitions is is one thing, but culture is another. Politicians come and go, culture and people stay. There is absolutely no doubt that Ukrainian and Russian cultures are practically two pieces of the same thing, artificially devided 20 years ago by force. We lived in one country and shared the same culture much longer together, than apart. Thank you, Andrei Ahachinsky! Разом нас багато!


      Jun 11, 2014 at 9:20pm

      What's going on in Ukraine is a very complicated issue and it isn't simply black and white. Andrew is doing the right thing here, promoting friendship. I have ancestors from quite a few Slavic countries, mostly from Russia and Ukraine. I also happen to have a bunch of friends from different parts of these countries, even with different opinions on the situation. And yet we're still friends, capable of having fun and being crazy Slavs, despite everything.
      There is no pure truth in this conflict and even if there is, it isn't on the internet or in the news (come on, who are we kidding?). So why waste time fighting for strong opinions that are based on shady information, wasting time and nerves and getting NOTHING but more and more enemies in return? Sounds idiotic, doesn't it...?


      Jun 11, 2014 at 9:37pm

      Just curious, why not to continue hosting traditional Russia Day again? Not trendy anymore?


      Jun 11, 2014 at 9:54pm

      Dear Slav, pls save your message of "we have no reason to fight" - to your Russian heavily armed compatriots terrorizing Eastern Ukraine, as for "we are not involved in International affairs" - maybe you are not, but almost every Ukrainian in Vancouver has relatives, friends or loved ones in Ukraine, who are threatened by Russian terrorists - so we are involved on daily basis, trying to help our Motherland. Canadian government is sending strong message of support to all Ukrainians and condemns Russian aggression, so if you are pretending to share Canadian cultural values - pls learn from our Canadian government not to close eyes and cowardly isolate yourself in your happy Vancouver comfort zone, but speak up against bloodshed and try to help victims of Russian aggression.