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Fofudja [fofudyá] is an internet and social phenomenon in the Ukrainian segment of the LiveJournal community.[1] While its name denotes a piece of religious clothing, it has been used lately as a satirical protest against Russian imperialism, xenophobia, ukrainophobia, antisemitism and religious intolerance.[2] By application of reductio ad absurdum this phenomenon involves people assuming comically exaggerated xenophobic and antisemitic views with the aim to mock them. As such, members of the Fofudja community sarcastically purport to be members of the supposedly oppressed Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine suffering from nationalist and Zionist oppression.[1]

Contents

Origins of the term

The name of this Internet phenomenon originates from the name of an ancient and precious oriental cloth for religious ceremonies - fofudja (Greek: φουφουδότης) (Russian: фофудья). It was first mentioned in the Radziwiłł Chronicle in the 13th century but as such it remained unknown to the general public of Ukraine and Russia.[1] In fact, the word itself was quite obscure and was not even included into several editions of orthographic dictionaries either in Ukraine or Russia.[3]

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Origins in LiveJournal

The word "fofudja" appeared in a LiveJournal community quite recently. However, the theme of this phenomenon can be traced back to another widely popular Ukrainian Internet creation — a novel "The City of Lvov".[4] This satirical Internet novel written by "Professor" Ivan Denikin (a pen name of an unknown joker) deals with a few Russians traveling to Lviv and on their way encountering "unspeakable suffering" of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine brought on by Ukrainization.[1] The description of the events was quite satirical and grotesque and this phenomenon of presenting the distorted picture of the world through the eyes of Russian nationalists and Orthodox zealots caught on with the wider public and when LiveJournal Fofudja was launched on March 12, 2006,[5] its popularity grew exponentially.

Main Features and Usage

The main symbols of this phenomenon is the fofudja itself. In the view of some observers the name was probably selected because of a number of factors: because of its obscurity, it similar sounding to a piece of clothing called fufaika, and also due to its Byzantine origin and orthodox symbolism.[6] The phenomenon of the catchphrase "for how long" Dokole (Доколє) is believed to be in an attempt to exploit the language of the Orthodox and Russian nationalist zealots that have become popular in Russia.[2]

Members of the community sarcastically position themselves as semi-underground Russian minority in present-day Ukraine, proud Russian patriots and devout Orthodox Christians.[7] They also pretend to be fiercely chauvinistic with well defined xenophobic and antisemitic views. As such, the generally accepted view of the community is that they are living on eternal Russian lands, speak the only acceptable and "normal" Russian language and patiently await imminent liberation from Ukrainian and Jewish oppression. The latter are termed with one derogatory word for both nations: Жидобандеровцьі (Zhidobanderovtsy).

Fofudja as a piece of religious clothing is meant to be a symbol of Russian Orthodoxy and of Russian culture.[6] Participants believe that they will be persecuted by Ukrainian authorities for wearing it in public as a piece of national Russian costume. In fact, the leader of Ukrainian communists Petro Symonenko was asked in an Internet conference the following question:

"Hello, I am from Kherson oblast and I am an ethnic Russian. My daughter was prohibited from wearing a fofudja at school, a symbol of Russian culture — on the grounds that the state language is Ukrainian. I just wanted to ask you, Peter Nikolayevich, for how long [will it last]?

Unsuspecting of being a victim of a practical joke by members of the fofudja community and willing to profit on the sensitive inter-ethnic question Mr. Symonenko promised to "look into it".[6]

One other particular feature of this Internet phenomenon is the peculiar language use. While only Russian is being used (as all other languages are deemed to be substandard) it is spelled for added comic effect with Ukrainian letters. One of the anonymous contributors at a site spawned off by this phenomenon explained it in the following manner:

"Please forgive me for using these disgusting Little Russian (I would even call them Micro Russian) letters, but evil Jews-Ukrainians pulled with pliers all the keys with Russian characters out of the keyboard and burned them. You can't even imagine all the suffering they put us through!"[8]

Trying to express their admiration for the Imperial Russia some usage of the old style Cyrillic has also been noted.[1] The symbol of "fofudja", the catchphrase "доколє" (how long), the Russian-Ukrainian letter mix and the Imperial Cyrillic — these are the distinctive features of this Internet phenomenon that spread beyond the Live Journal blog and into the wider community in Ukraine. It is becoming commonly used in everyday speech in Ukraine, on numerous Internet blog sites and has been noted lately in print as well.[9]

Examples of Usage

The use of numerous abbreviations is also one of the characteristic features of the Fofudja community:

  • І.З.Т. — ізвінітє за тавтологію (Pardon my tautology). Used following expressions like "істінно русскій чілавєк" —"true Russian human being" — hinting to that "Russian" and "human-being" are synonyms.[7]
  • І.З.І.Ж.Б.К. — ізвінітє за іспользованіє жидобандеровской клавіатурьі (Please excuse the use of Jewish-Banderite keyboard).[7]

Significance

Many believe this original Ukrainian creation to be the means to combat prejudice and xenophobia exhibited towards Ukrainians in modern Russia and to mock Russian nationalists within Ukraine proper.[2] By adopting the language and many of the ideas of Russian nationalists and comically exaggerating them members of the fofudja community thus make an effort to repudiate them.[2]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Afanasiy Borschexher (2006-10-27). "Under the Omophorion of St. Fofudja" (in Ukrainian). Internet Reporter. http://rep-ua.com/52325.html.  
  2. ^ a b c d Oles' Andriychuk (August 19—26, 2006). "Under the Omophorion of St. Fofudja" (in Ukrainian/Russian). Dzerkalo Tyzhnia. №31(610). http://www.zn.kiev.ua/nn/show/610/54195/.  
  3. ^ Nastas'ya Chastytsina (2006-12-11). "Daddy, daddy, our nets have pulled out a Fofudja!" (in Russian). Izvestia. http://www.izvestia.ru/weekend/article3099240.  
  4. ^ "The City of Lvov" (in Russian). Novel, Za-nashe-delo LiveJournal. LiveJournal. http://za-nashe-delo.livejournal.com/tag/%D0%93%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B4+%D0%9B%D1%8C%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B2.  
  5. ^ "First record in Fofudja LiveJournal" (in Ukrainian). LiveJournal. 2006-03-12. http://community.livejournal.com/fofudja/399.html.  
  6. ^ a b c "Фофудья – відповідь українчегів московському “прєведу”" (in Ukrainian). Internet Reporter. http://rep-ua.com/52325.html.  
  7. ^ a b c "Fofudja Conqures Ukrainian Cyberspace" (in Belarusian). Nasha Nyva. http://nn.by/index.php?c=ar&i=5223.  
  8. ^ Za-nashe-delo LJ community (Rus.)
  9. ^ "The Road of Putinism (newspaper)" (in Russian). 2006-10-31. http://anti-gorod.dp.ua/putinizm/?arh=31-10-06.  

Sources


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