The ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, euphemistically called the “Ukraine crisis,” draws attention to its ideological underpinnings that include a historically informed Russian hegemonic view of Ukrainians as “younger brothers” who should be both patronized and censured for improper behavior. The paper examines a particular aspect of this superior attitude as embedded in ethnic stereotypes – both “vernacular”, primarily in folklore, and ideologically constructed, in both cultural and political discourses. In both cases, the structure of stereotypes reflects the dominant position of one group and subjugated position of the other within a more general paradigm of relations between Robinson Crusoe and Friday. A peculiar dialectics implies that a “good” Friday can be civilized and assimilated and become almost equal to Crusoe – “almost the same people”, in a popular Russian parlance about Ukrainians. Yet, a “bad” (“wrong”) Friday should be strongly reviled and thoroughly demonized as a complete evil, manipulated allegedly by hostile (“Western”) Robinsons. The paper argues that the Russo-Ukrainian relations cannot be normalized until Russians learn to see Ukrainians as neither “good” nor “bad” but just different eas all the people around.

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