The term “Transukrainian” seems to be emerging as a way to describe individuals who are not ethnically Ukrainian or citizens of Ukraine, yet openly support Ukraine or identify with Ukrainian values, culture, or political causes. This term appears to be rooted in the concept of transcending national boundaries, emphasizing a broader sense of identity or affiliation that goes beyond one’s own nationality.
The term itself was created by Russians. But why this term is created, why and how it is used, and do Ukrainians themselves use it?
Vasilisa Murasheva, Russian psychologist and journalist, describes this phenomenon in her article “Национальный «переход» военного времени” (“National ‘Transition’ of Wartime” in English”)
After the onset of the war in Russia, many individuals grappled with an identity crisis, struggling to define their roles and places in society. A reaction to this crisis was the phenomenon of “national transition,” where people consciously adopted a new national identity. Referred to as “Transukrainians,” some Russians chose to identify as Ukrainians. The article highlights a specific case where a woman named Alina, previously supportive of humanitarian initiatives, decided to move to Kyiv and embrace a Ukrainian identity due to her opposition to the Russian regime. The author, Vasilisa Murasheva, a psychotherapist, reflects on potential reasons behind such identity shifts, linking them to the broader crisis of identity in the country. The article offers insights into the interplay of political events, national identity, personal lives, and psychological responses to such crises.
Murashova’s caution against such “transitions” highlights the potential psychological implications of adopting an identity or affiliation that transcends one’s own nationality or background. She suggests that this act of adopting a different identity might lead to psychological challenges, as it involves disconnecting from one’s original identity and attempting to assimilate into another culture or cause. The psychological toll of such a transition, especially if not done with a strong sense of authenticity, could result in internal conflict and distress.
Russian writer and radio host Viktor Shenderovich’s viewpoint delves into the psychological aspect of guilt. He likens the adoption of a “transitional” identity to a coping mechanism, suggesting that some Russians might be embracing the concept as a way to alleviate feelings of guilt associated with Russia’s political actions. By disassociating from the negative aspects of their own identity and aligning with a seemingly positive one, individuals might find a sense of relief from their guilt. His analogy of leaving a room where a crime was committed for a clean room resonates with the idea of escaping from a troubling history or responsibility. Shenderovich’s interpretation paints the act of transitioning as a way for individuals to avoid confronting their own guilt, using it as a convenient way to distance themselves from any negative emotions tied to their national identity.
The negative labeling of individuals as “Transukrainians” by Russian users on social media reflects a common phenomenon where terms or concepts can be appropriated and used in ways that diverge from their original intent. This kind of appropriation and negative tone can be influenced by various factors:
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is a deeply divisive issue, and individuals may resort to name-calling and derogatory terms as a way to demean those who hold opposing viewpoints. By using the term “Transukrainian” negatively, they might aim to discredit the authenticity of support for Ukraine from non-Ukrainian individuals.
The labeling of Alexander Nevzorov as “Transukrainian” by the Russian libertarian channel SVTV seems to be an example of using the term in a derogatory or dismissive manner. In this case, it appears that the term is being used to criticize or undermine Nevzorov’s credibility as a critic of Putin’s regime and as a journalist. The label “Transukrainian” is being used here as a form of derogatory name-calling, likely to discredit Nevzorov’s perspective and his criticism of the Russian government. This type of language usage is not uncommon in politically charged environments, where individuals or groups try to tarnish the reputation of those who hold opposing views.
Some Russians even called Alexey Navalny a Transukrainian after he published his manifesto on 20.02.2023, in which he expressed the need for reparation for Ukraine. This kind of labeling can be seen as a form of a political strategy aimed at discrediting critics and stoking nationalist sentiments while polarizing public opinion. When evaluating such discourse, it’s important to consider the underlying motivations and critically assess the context and substance of the arguments being presented.
It seems that the term “Transukrainian” is primarily used by Russians and individuals sympathetic to Russia, rather than by Ukrainians themselves. This aligns with the understanding that the term has been used as a somewhat derogatory or dismissive label to describe individuals who are not ethnically Ukrainian or citizens of Ukraine but express support for Ukraine or its causes.
Language can often be a tool to express and shape political, cultural, and national identities. The fact that Ukrainians generally do not use the term “Transukrainian” and do not see a reason to do so suggests that the term might not resonate with their own experiences.
There is a notable trend where certain Russia-sympathizers in Estonia are coining the term “Transestonians” to label Russian-speaking individuals who have successfully integrated into Estonian society. The term is wielded as a provocative tool, drawing a clear line between those who have embraced Estonian society and those who are using the term itself.
The use of the term “Transukrainian” (or similar terms such as “Transestonian”) often serves as a clear indicator of sympathy or alignment with the Russian perspective in a given context. This term is used as a linguistic marker to convey a pro-Rusian point of view and affiliation.