Russian TV presenter Sergey Mardan made controversial comments suggesting that identifying as Ukrainian was a deliberate political decision and likened it to pledging allegiance to the devil.
On his program, Mardan Live, Mardan expressed bewilderment over why people referred to those living in Ukraine as Ukrainians. His comments, as interpreted by Russian Media Monitor and reported by Daily Beast’s Julia Davis, indicated a possible attempt to belittle the Ukrainian identity.
“We routinely, without any clear reason, label those residing in Ukraine as ‘Ukrainians,'” Mardan commented on his show aired on October 28. “When I say ‘we,’ I am referring to the general public, whether in casual conversations, social media, or TV. I find this baffling. Presently, identifying as a Ukrainian is a conscious political decision.”
Later in the show, Mardan elaborated, “It’s akin to a ritual, much like pledging allegiance to dark forces. It’s a rejection of one’s roots to declare, ‘Now, I am Ukrainian.'”
Furthermore, Mardan suggested that security agencies should closely monitor families in Russia, opting to learn Ukrainian in 2023.
The Atlantic Council, a prominent US think tank, published a report on August 10. It highlighted concerning evidence of Russia amplifying animosity towards Ukraine, partially through inflammatory language.
“The provocative language is distressing in itself, advocating for the obliteration of Ukrainians using explicit threats and insults,” the report stated. “Moreover, the aggressive actions of Russia in Ukraine seem to reflect this hostile rhetoric originating from Moscow.”
Such language that seeks to undermine Ukraine’s legitimacy and autonomy from Russia has been notably recurrent since Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
In the same episode, Mardan cast doubt on Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, terming eastern Ukraine as “Novorossiya” (New Russia), a title historically associated with regions of southern Ukraine taken over by the Russian Empire in the 18th century.
He argued, “This land, shaped by the toil and sacrifices of Russians, was wrongfully annexed first to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and later to an independent Ukraine.”
In the past, Mardan voiced his support for reviving the Russian Empire, deeming it an ultimate objective for the country.
Known for his audacious remarks, Mardan, a month ago, lamented Russia’s trajectory after the Soviet Union’s dissolution, comparing its state to that of an addict. He, however, depicted the rebirth of an empire as “a magnificent yet intimidating vision.”