This year the SAT congress was at the Black Sea. The program was replete with items of a touristic nature that were pleasurable to around 100 participants who were also convening in fruitful working sessions that dealt with the affairs of the Association, and attending lectures.
Indeed, anything can happen! SAT – a workers’ self-education association – brought its members and other interested people together in Yalta, the most renowned Ukrainian seacoast city, a place to which the bourgeois from surrounding countries travel in order to bathe in the sun and the sea. Naturally, the sixty workers that came to the congress saw the many sights (the Livadia Palace where the Yalta Conference took place in 1945; a tourist presentation of the Battle of Sevastopol in 1855, which was a good chance to heighten awareness of how representations of history intended for a non-specialized public can be laced with nationalist manipulation; and more).
Worthy of note is the quality of the program of lectures dealing with the topic of “nationalism” and focusing on the region in which the congress was taking place. Nikolai Gudskov advanced the thesis that economic globalization and presently developing nationalisms and local nationalistic policies are not contrary tendencies, but complementary. Great enthusiasm was generated by the presentation of the Moscow Language Festival. Irina Goncharova’s explanation enabled participants to comprehend how it is possible to put on and develop an independent language festival without falling into the trap of nationalism. Kazakhstan was a subject of discussion, and it was interesting to note on that occasion that Svetlana Birukova, the lecturer, had no way of accessing any information through that country’s media about important local miners’ strikes that had been cruelly suppressed by the government. Such information was provided her by foreign participants during the debate. This fact made it evident that SAT’s organ Sennaciulo has now acquired an important informative function, which it could be performing on an even greater scale. Petko Denev described trade union activity in Bulgaria as it is affected by capitalist policies: a working class that receives the lowest wages in all of the European Union, unionists who are gradually learning how to be active and make headway in an ever more oppressive social context, heavy emigration of Bulgarians to western Europe in order to find low-paid work, counterbalanced by just as heavy immigration by people of diverse backgrounds who are seeking better living conditions than in their country of origin.
The cultural elements of the program were rather sparse compared to past congresses, but the occasion to deal with the role of Borovko, Ostrovski, Langlet and Guiheneuf was used to advantage. All of them once lived in Yalta and had great influence on the life and practical use of Esperanto. Yalta is also the city of Anton Chekhov, whose home everybody visited, and in whose garden participants had a chance to view a few skits performed by “Improvizo”, the Yalta Esperanto theatrical troupe.
At SAT congresses the unexpected often happens, and one such thing was a major and profound debate about language rights and nationalism in the Ukrainian context – at a moment, at which a bill has come before the parliament, which would make Russian the second official language of the Ukraine, a country with big expanses of territory that are inhabited largely by Russian-speakers. This bill has the approval of part of the population and from Russians living in Russia (which has not always been free of all vestiges of nationalism) and is disapproved of by other Ukrainians (among them many nationalists who are exploiting this opportunity to enlarge their constituency).
Translation: SATeB (WORKERS’ ESPERANTO MOVEMENT for ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRIES)
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