Recent Focused Series »

Indo-European Origins
Northern California
The Caucasus
Imaginary Geography
Home » GeoNotes, Russia, Ukraine, and Caucasus

More GeoGaffes from a Prominent Politician

Submitted by on April 20, 2012 – 5:12 pm 2 Comments |  
A recent GeoNote mentioned several egregious geographical errors made by various U.S. politicians. But such illiteracy and confusion are not limited to American officials. Another politician notorious for his GeoGaffes is Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovich.

In 2004 Yanukovich described his visit to Mount Athos but misplaced it in Palestine instead of Greece. But what would one expect of a politician who considers Israel “a European country” and subdivides Eurasia into Asia and… Eurasia! In various speeches, Yanukovich confused Slovakia and Slovenia; Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo; and even North Ossetia and South Ossetia.

Not only does Yanukovich have trouble with finding places on the map, but he can barely keep up with current political and economic events. In July 2005 he expressed his condolences to the residents of London after terrorist attacks that shook the city, noting also that leaders of G8 were there at the time. In actuality, the G8 meeting was then taking place in Edinburgh, Scotland. On another occasion he used “Stockholm Accords” for Helsinki Accords of 1975, which formulated the principles of the inviolability of national borders and respect for territorial integrity.

Yanukovich’s geographical troubles extend to his home country as well. On many occasions he forgot where he was or confused various Ukrainian cities: Balakliia in Kharkiv Oblast of eastern Ukraine with Balaklava in Crimea, the site of the famous battle during the Crimean War; Kirovohrad in central Ukraine with Chernihiv in northern part of the country; and Mykolaiv with Kherson (both cities in southwestern Ukraine on the Black Sea coast).

Besides geography, Yanukovich has trouble keeping in mind dates, names, and quotes. His cultural knowledge is rather limited: he called Anton Chekhov a “great Ukrainian poet” and confused Isaak Babel with August Bebel. Yanukovich regularly struggles with details of diplomatic protocol, and his battles with spelling have made him a laughing stock, especially when filling out a questionnaire, he misspelled his academic degree as “proffesor”, with two Fs and one S. Unsurprisingly, this misspelled title became his nickname.

Previous Post
Next Post

Subscribe For Updates

It would be a pleasure to have you back on GeoCurrents in the future. You can sign up for email updates or follow our RSS Feed, Facebook, or Twitter for notifications of each new post:

Commenting Guidelines: GeoCurrents is a forum for the respectful exchange of ideas, and loaded political commentary can detract from that. We ask that you as a reader keep this in mind when sharing your thoughts in the comments below.

  • BorisDenisov

    Yanukovich is great:)
    However, political geography differs from geography. For instance WHO European region include all of the former SU countries + Turkey and Israel. Moreover Israel is an UEFA member, as well as Turkey.

    • Asya Pereltsvaig

      Thanks for your comment, Boris! Yes, indeed and it has occurred to me that some “European” organizations count Israel as Europe. Also, Israel participates in the Eurovision contest… even won once, no?