I don't know if all of the readers remember this old Soviet term, "enemy of the people". To hear it pronounced during Stalin's time usually meant a death sentence. Who knows, we may be facing a "renaissance" of this dark era. Here comes an important human document that describes the goings-on in the Russian Federation, now a bit larger with "reunification" of Crimea.
The headline of this post is the one chosen by Frankfurter Allgemeine for an interview of Belarusian writer Svetlana Aleksievich. It German it reads Wer nicht jubelt, ist ein Volksfeind. Volksfeind... sounds good too, doesn't it? So, to the translation: not knowing German, I have resorted to the Russian version of the same article. And a few remarks and links were added where strictly necessary.
Belarusian writer Svetlana Aleksievich describes for Frankfurter Allgemeine the mood in Russia after the annexation of the Crimea.
"I lost many Russian friends" - she writes - " I hate to see this enthusiasm when it comes to the "unification" or "annexation" or to hear that Ukrainians 'will soon have nothing to eat, and then they will beg for a merger'... Restaurants don't have any Crimean champagne anymore - all was drank when they celebrated the victory. One constantly hears the talk that 'we, the Russian people, without a sense of being God's chosen people, without imperial sentiments would not be ourselves'. Russian volunteers crowd before military commissariats to show the 'Banderovites'* what is what."
"I was flabbergasted by Gorbachev - confesses Aleksievich - Even he succumbed to the nationalist wave and said that Crimea should have been returned long time ago. Allegedly, historical justice was restored... So he no longer talks about the European way, about partnership with Europe or common values."
"Normal Russia keeps mum. Just try to say something - somebody will inform on you, and they will throw you in prison... all the liberals** are hated today. Because they were the ones who caused the "dashing nineties", because they caused the loss of the empire. People demand that the liberals' apartments be confiscated, the liberals arrested and shot. Chosen people!"
"He who is not happy is an enemy of the people. Part of the fifth column, one of the State Department*** henchmen. Stalinist lexicon was fully restored; "traitor", "renegade", a "fascists' accomplice" etc. The only difference is that the new Stalinists are now followers of the Russian Orthodox Church. Russia has been unable to accept Western values, Western Christianity. They preach in the [Russian] churches: 'we are again being pushed into the model of progress that is alien to us, that will cause us to lose our spirituality.' I asked my priest friend, what is it, this spirituality. 'Gather all homosexuals in one city and shoot them there!' - was the answer... We, they say, are strong enough now and are able to protect our people in the Baltic States, in Tajikistan, wherever... Orthodox newspapers earnestly call Putin a saint. It turns out that in his previous incarnation he was Prince Vladimir and baptized Russia. Rumor has it that in some churches Putin's icon produces myrrh. Holy! Miracle! He lives like a monk. He is engaged with Russia..."
"There have already been calls to reject American goods. In Ufa they burned an effigy of Obama in response to American sanctions. I spoke with dozens of people about the sanctions and the "iron curtain", and no one is afraid. They remember that in Soviet times they have also lived in isolation. So what? But the life had a meaning then: to help the brothers is more important than to have a sausage in the fridge... They will begin to ask soon why are you going on holiday to Egypt or Turkey, but not to Sochi? Why do you listen to foreign music and not to Russian?"
"There is a feeling that the country is at war - continues the writer - People are wishing each other more victories: 'And what about Alaska?' It is scary to switch on the TV. The TV threatens to transform America into a nuclear dust, discusses occupation of the whole of Europe ... The media is being "cleaned up" according to the laws of war. Any alternative sources of information that allow other points of view are destroyed. Any word of truth or protest is being equaled to calls for the overthrow of government, unwanted Internet sites are blocked."
"Whither Russia? Today we prefer war to reforms. The thirst for return of the lost lands drives the minds of millions crazy. The same intelligent and reasonable people who have dreamed about westernized Russia just yesterday. Today they avow in a chorus: 'For the Crimea we forgive Putin everything!'... We got back not just the Crimea, but the Soviet Union... Putin worked on this for fifteen years. Day after day the TV was reviving Soviet ideas. And we thought they were dead."
"The world will never be the same - convinced Aleksievich - Putin blew up the world order, built after World War II. Will West accept the new Russia or reject it? If the West rejects, it will be left alone with their pipelines ... Generally, where violence again becomes an ideal, there appears your Karadzic, who will convince people that you can do good using a machine gun."
(*) The currently popular Russian myth is that the anti-Russian fraction in Ukraine is led by the followers of late Stepan Bandera. While some of Ukrainians are admirers of the Bandera, far be it from the whole truth.
(**) "Liberals" mentioned in the article are not "liberals" in the American sense, rather the people that took part in the demolition of Soviet Union.
(***) State Department is obviously seen as the source of all tribulations that Russia went (and goes) through.
And, for an afterword: Russia's new culture policy a weapon against West.
Russians not only have their own "cultural code," he said, they also have a unique moral outlook -- unlike Westerners, Russians are selfless and prone to self-sacrifice.Yes indeed, Vladimir Vladimirovich.
"These are the deep roots of our patriotism," Putin said.