France and Ukraine

To mutilate a common proverb, comedy starts at home. For me, c’est l’Europe.

France has two satirical giants, Le Canard Enchaîné and Charlie Hebdo. The former is older in pedigree with a manner to match, similar to Private Eye in the United Kingdom. The younger, full-colour Charlie Hebdo is more brash and in-your-face, staking out positions on the time-honoured French anticlerical and radical left.

Charlie Hebdo this week comments on local elections in France, in which the far-right Front National (FN) made disconcertingly sizeable gains. No holds barred in their pre-election comment, in which the phrase ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’ is operative.

Charlie Hebdo 26 March 2014

‘Which towns for the Front National?’ ‘Uuus!’ ‘Uuus first!’ ‘Uuus!’ ‘No, uuus!’

Readers may have been familiar with the French titles above, but heading further east, it’s clear that being known for mockery and observation comes at a premium. In Ukraine, cartoonist Vladimir Kazanevsky commented all the way back in 2002 that when it comes to political cartoons in his country: “Editors just say: “Yes, it’s a great cartoon but I am not going to publish it, because my paper will be history tomorrow”. The reason is as simple as that.” 1

Kazanevsky has created some impressive and clever images in response to the crisis in the Crimea over the past month or more. Here’s one of them, a comment on the recent disputed referendum in the peninsula:


Other cartoonists include Igor Bezhuk , who attended a Ukrainian conference on European integration last year. Below is an image he drew in late 2013 – remarkably prescient in light of protests in the capital, Kyiv, in January this year.


‘З Новим роком’ = z novym rokom, ‘happy new year’

Don’t accept sweets from strangers (especially heavily armed ones). I suppose the adage works quite well for international politics, too.

1. An interview with Ukrainian public radio on 11 December 2002.

One thought on “France and Ukraine”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *