Our Day Will Come

Vladimir Stognienko
Vladimir Stognienko

Greg Yudin
Lille, France
June 16, 2016

This minute-long excerpt from a program on the Russia channel is an excellent illustration of what some people have been trying to turn patriotism into recently.

First, the smug presenter fudges the surname of his colleague, one of the country’s best sports commentators. Then, instead of apologizing, he says it is no big deal, because the commentator did not hear him in any case, and basically who cares what his name is. Next, he claims, seemingly is passing, it was the English who attacked the Russian sector in Marseille, although we know it was the other way around. Finally, the commentator, Vladimir Stognienko, is accused of not supporting Russia, just because he refuses to back up this lie on the air. The studio audience applauds.

It so happened that today we rode back from the match in Lille in the same bus as Vladimir Stognienko. Later, we discussed the fact that he was, seemingly, the most upset about the defeat [against Slovakia]. Anyone who has heard his play-by-plays knows how emotional he gets about the Russian squad. For the presenter of the TV show, it boils down to the fact we lost, we chatted about it, and now we have moved on, but a commentator lives for football. Maybe Stognienko has dreamed his whole life of someday doing the play-by-play of a European Championship final involving the Russian team.

Two hours later, Stognienko goes on the air from downtown Lille and hears from the presenters that he does not support Russia and is basically a traitor. As they say this, the presenters flash sparkling white smiles. I am curious: what are they so happy about? Our team lost, and they did not play particularly strongly.

A strange kind of patriotism has emerged recently in Russia. For the new breed of “patriots,” supporting Russia and telling the truth are incompatible. Yet they somehow feel entitled to tell others who is a patriot and who is not.

It does not occur to these people that saying a honest man cannot be a patriot is tantamount to insulting one’s country. That the slogan “you are either for the truth or for our side” demeans Russia.

In my opinion, Stognienko summed up the basic principle of the real patriot.

“If there is a problem, you have to talk about the problem,” he said.

Honest professionals have always been and will always be the main patriots in Russia.

And yes, our day will definitely come.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Photo courtesy of Rusfootball