Ukraine: Tatyana Senyushkina

Can we not, as people, finally surmount war and the distress it brings to us?

— Tatyana Senyushkina

Tatyana Senyushkina has been studying ethnic conflicts and how to anticipate, prevent, and manage them since 1995. She has published a large number of studies in this field including the “Prevention and Management of Ethnic Conflicts: State and Administrative Measures.” She works with the Crimean Branch of the Ukrainian Conflictologist Association and a wide network of people active in this field. She is working for change within ethnically hostile settings and is promoting interethnic trust within communities. She has developed training materials on peace building.

Tatyana Senyushkina promotes the culture of peace and interethnic trust in the conflict regions of Crimea. “The words of Lao Tse – ‘if one wants peace, he should perceive a war,’ inspired me in my work,” she says. She remembers another ancient Chinese saying: “Night is followed by day, darkness by light. So, a war is followed by peace, as naturally as the day follows night." In the 1990s, Crimean Tatars started returning to Crimea after their deportation to Central Asia by Stalin in 1944, and the flashes of international discord between the Tatars and Ukrainians flared up. “Peace seemed fragile, sliding out from under us,” Tatyana remembers. It was then that her research on ethnic conflicts began. At the start, it was necessary to define what a conflict was and to learn how to manage it. Soon her work allowed her to explore this phenomenon more deeply. She began to identify allies and collaborators within a growing network: teachers, psychologists, scientists, humanitarians and naturalists, military servicemen, journalists, state officials, students, representatives of women’s and youth organizations, artists – all united – as Tatyana says “by the goal of making progress through tiny steps to a peaceful life, to knowing more about different cultures, to understanding the peoples with whom we live in our neighborhoods, and to trusting them.” Tatyana together with a baker invented a cake – a balloon symbolizing our planet: “If people do not learn to live in peace, the balloon cannot carry them further. And, it is very tasty – of chocolate and cream: We gave it to Crimean Tatar children who were just starting their life in this complicated world,” Tatyana recounts. “Eating it with childlike joy, perhaps they will begin to understand peace.”

Taurida National University Simferopol Crimean Branch of the Ukrainian Conflictologist Association