Life in Inclinde: what it’s like to be a Ukrainian journalist in Washington

Ukrainian journalist Ostap Yarysh in his blog on the website “Voice of America” talked about his work in Washington.

Жизнь в Импичленде: каково быть украинским журналистом в Вашингтоне

Photo: Depositphotos

The following is the text of the author.

I moved to live and work in the United States in early April of 2019. The next day, after moving to Ukraine held a presidential election. Six months later, the new President Zelensky and Ukraine was at the center of political drama in Washington, which led to the impeachment of Donald trump. If someone told me all this before moving to the States, I would have laughed. Now I understand: I got here at a better time to be a Ukrainian journalist in the United States.

In the beginning of 2014 to Ukraine was riveted the world’s attention: foreign journalists followed the development of the revolution of Dignity, after the occupation of Crimea and the beginning of the war in the Donbass. But later this interest began to fade. The refugee crisis, Brexit, the U.S. presidential election gradually took the information field, and about Ukraine in the West began to talk less and less.

Ukrainians had to constantly remind about the forgotten war with Russia and fight for the interest of the international media. It is difficult in conditions when the world is so many other important things. But July 25, 2019 had a phone conversation with trump and Zelensky, who, as it turned out, changed everything.

The beginning of autumn in the United States was very rapid. I woke up in every morning news release CNN or FOX heard “Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine”. As a rule, after it heard the words “corruption”, “impeachment”, “the favor” and other things that do not really contribute to creating a positive image. It was starting to tire. When I was walking down the street, it seemed that the people around look at me. Of course, it was not so. But when your country was in the center of the biggest political scandal in the United States over the past 20 years, it is difficult to abstract away.

At first I thought that this interest is only in Washington until he left for a business trip to Texas. I remember I sat in a small café on the border with Mexico and eat their tacos. In the corner hung the TV, which was broadcasting the local news without sound. At one point I glanced at the screen and guess who it featured? Vladimir Zelensky. About Ukraine it was even said here.

After the impeachment I noticed how the Americans changed their attitude to me. When getting to know their reaction went from politely aloof, “Oh, Ukraine …”, to the person concerned “About the Ukraine!” I got a new game: sounding, I tried to guess how to react to my companion.

The conservatives and the voters Republicans complained that Ukraine always creates problems. Some questioned whether or not we interfered in the elections in 2016, and I earnestly asked the reason for moving to the United States that to be a journalist in Ukraine is dangerous.

Жизнь в Импичленде: каково быть украинским журналистом в Вашингтоне

Ostap Yarysh. Photo: screenshot of video “Voice of America”

Liberals and supporters of Democrats reacted quite differently. Funny, but some times I was grateful for the fact that Ukrainians chose Zelensky President. Some on the contrary apologized for the fact that Ukraine was involved in American politics and with a sympathetic expression on his face clapped on the shoulder.

But my favorite part is the humor. The fact that you’re from the Ukraine, makes you the perfect target for jokes in Washington. The owner of the apartment that I rented, likes to joke that with me now risky to deal with: “And suddenly I’m accused of financial ties with Ukraine?” When in the lobby of our house, someone knocked the door, he jokingly asked if I was accidentally. “Because these days all the problems in Washington create Ukrainians.”

After returning home from vacation, I heard from his American friends: “did you find something bad about Biden?” One bartender even said that I look like Zelensky. The fact that the bartender in the United States, in principle, know what it looks like, the President of Ukraine, no one is surprised.

Naturally, the story of the impeachment influenced my work. First, every day brought some urgent news for them was difficult to catch, I was tired, but could not tear myself away from the congressional hearings and published documents. It’s like watching a political show in real time where the main storyline evolves around your country.

But I have seen many distortions in the American media and Congress. Republicans have repeatedly mentioned that Ukraine is in third place in the world for corruption, citing the survey of times of Yanukovych. And one Republican Congressman even said that in 2008 Ukraine invaded Georgia.

Democrats cited the argument that due to the delay of military assistance almost every day Ukrainians are dying. This created the false impression that the Ukrainian army is entirely dependent on American aid, and without it, she is unfit for action.

After Christmas the impeachment process stopped. I exhaled, waiting for now on Ukraine in Washington will say less. But a few days ago, Iran shot down the aircraft MAU — and the morning news started again with Ukraine.

“Really? Why does everything have to be Ukraine?” asked the owner of the apartment. And honestly, I didn’t know what to say. I knew just what came in the best time to be a Ukrainian journalist in the United States. And that after six months of intense attention from the media, Americans no longer perceive Ukraine as before.





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