I made a terrible mistake. I addressed a Ukrainian film director in Russian, and he recoiled from me in such a way that I felt like the girl in the Charles Perrault fairy tale from whose mouth snakes and fell.
Mikhail Epstein said that Russia is a crime in itself, a country-slash-crime.
Now I’m wondering whether the Russian language is a weapon in a crime. It’s a pretty unbearable thought. It’s like someone was scalped with a knife that you’ve been innocently peeling potatoes with all your life. But yes, this bloody knife was bagged and admitted into evidence, and a verdict will soon be returned.
It is a language of violence and murder. A language of war and death. The language of an empire in the throes of death.
I’ve said it before, but I often think with a shudder that the last thing the people killed in Ukraine heard were the sounds of my native language — commands barked out, probably, and most likely interlarded with obscenities. This conjecture once frightened me, but I know from reading the investigations that it’s true.
Kaputt… Hände hoch… Ein, zwei, drei… Wasn’t it us who, as Soviet schoolchildren playing in the courtyard, used to associate the German language with SS squads in movies about the Second World War? This is the now the Russian language’s plight.
Every time I speak Russian outside the house, I remember this. I must remember. It doesn’t matter that I speak five languages and write in [Russian and] three others. I still have only one native language.
I think in its words. And about its words.
Life in the mother tongue is so emphatic that in a way which is rationally not conceivable, which is even rationally refutable, I feel co-responsible for what Russians do and have done.
The last paragraph that you read was not written by me. It is a quotation. Just replace “Russians” with “Germans” and you will get an excerpt from Karl Jaspers’s book The Question of German Guilt [trans. D.B. Ashton (New York: Fordham University Press, 2000), p. 74.]
What comes next?
Does the language of empire — a language of violence and murder, of war and death — have any future at all?
What about the Russian language of Ukrainians, a native language for many of them?
Alas, even here the war has not left much room for maneuver.
In response to my texts on social media, I’ve been getting a lot of letters from Ukraine, sometimes in Ukrainian, but more often in Russian. The letters begin with the indispensable proviso. The Russian language is off-putting… I thought I would never be able to read anything or anyone in Russian… The sounds of the Russian language are nauseating, but out of personal respect (gratitude, as a sign of support) I have been reading you and am writing in Russian.
According to polls, since the start of the invasion, a significant percentage of people in Ukraine have switched completely to Ukrainian, while people who were originally Russophones (members of the older generation mainly, that is, people over forty-five) have strenuously been learning to use it as their primary language or studying it nearly from scratch. Many refuse to read anything in Russian on principle.
Recently, I received this testimony: “There is the phrase my daughter used in 2014 […]: ‘Mom, thank you very much for raising me on Russian literature. Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky are a wonderful tuning fork, a catalyst that helps me to distinguish good from evil. Thanks, it has come in handy. Now I’m ready for battle.”
(It is telling that the function of classical Russian literature as an ethical tuning fork, as noted in the above passage, is exactly the opposite of the anti-ethical rhetoric — “culture is not to blame” — that Russians have been practicing vis-a-vis the selfsame literature, which they call their own.)
In the spring, when I translated for the first refugees, blushing and apologizing, I babbled that, unfortunately, I didn’t know Ukrainian. I could only translate from Italian into Russian or, if push came to shove, into Polish. I always heard the same response: “Are you kidding? Thank you, but it’s your language after all.”
Shortly after February 24, one of my correspondents, having written the first part of his message to me in Ukrainian, switched to Russian himself and invited me to do the same — “You can speak Russian, it’s our language too” — thereby completely turning the language situation around. It was as if he had removed the curse of the Russian language from the conversation by inviting me to speak in his (!) Russian and thus delicately rescuing me from a situation where I would have imposed on him the need to speak the same language, but as the language of empire and occupiers.
Later, it happened quite often. But in the midst of a war, amidst the smoking ruins, it can only be a one-time individual communicative act of goodwill. It cannot and should not become an indulgence.
I have repeatedly observed how Ukrainians speaking to each other in their native Russian in the presence of a third person (whether me or when asked a question by a Russophone outsider of unknown origin) instantly responded in Ukrainian. Switching to it, they would continue the interrupted conversation amongst themselves in Ukrainian.
The bilingualism of Ukraine and the fate of this bilingualism is a purely Ukrainian matter.
But what should I do? As I have said, I speak five languages fluently, and I write in four, but I have only one native language. And only in Russian am I me to my last syllable and my last breath.
How to preserve Russian speech with all its rhetoric about the special, “mighty, truthful and free” Russian language, rhetoric that has glommed onto and penetrated it and today is tragicomically outdated? (How can it even occur to us to write about ourselves like that?) How to preserve a language poisoned by the criminal argot of the last decades, which always turns into a shiv in the back? How to liberate it so that it becomes the language of a continuous, uninterrupted tradition and simultaneously open to the new, which is much bigger than it and us?
It is already too late for us to speak it without being tongue-tied, but our children and students still have a chance. What the language of civilization and education will be in the life of a particular student — Ukrainian, Georgian, Kazakh, Italian, Turkmen, Kyrgyz, French, Chuvash, Udmurt, Estonian, English, or German — is a technical matter more than anything.
In days of doubt and painful reflection, moved to despair by everything happening at home, it is difficult to believe. However, as I continue to write and teach, including in Russian, it is impossible not to believe at all that our native language is given to us not only as an eternal reproach, but also as a gift: to once and for all evict the word “great” from it and be able to put Russia at least somewhere in the above list.
“The war has pushed those who had not made a conscious choice earlier to make an uncompromising choice in favor of Ukrainian identity. It has also given millions of Ukrainians the experience of grassroots solidarity, self-organization and horizontal cooperation, in the process of which a ‘nation’ is formed, if we understand it as a political community of solidarity. These Ukrainians could tell Russians in their own language how to build a political community and how to live without empire. Ukrainians could use the Russian language, which is not the property of [ethnic] Russians, and even less so Putin’s property, in order to create a radically decolonial and emancipatory culture in Russian. Perhaps it could be the key to turning the space of the former empire into a space of radical liberation.”
From today’s perspective it seems like a beautiful utopia. But the future is in a fog.
The future is really foggy, but if we don’t try to take a hard look at ourselves, then there will be no way.
Here is the link to an interview [in which Margolis discusses this issue at length with Russian liberal journalist Yevgeny Kiselyov]:
One day, I hope, someone will explain to me why “progressive” Russians find the English words speak, speaker, speech, etc., so sexy and exciting that they have to incorporate them needlessly into Russian every chance they get.
Do they know that, in English, these words are less evocative than three-day-old bread, duller than dishwater?
In this case, hilariously (and awkwardly, too: “speak” appears after chas, generating an awkward phrase that translates as “hour of speak” or “speak hour,” although it’s supposed to be a play on the idiomatic phrase chas pik, meaning “rush hour”), the word “speak” adorns Sergei Medvedev’s reflections on the “imperialist mindset.”
Thanks to TP for this gem of Rusglish.
Below, you can watch the actual interview (in Russian, not Rusglish — well, almost), which, if for no other reason, is interesting because it was posted almost three months before Russia invaded Ukraine. ||| TRR
In an interview with Nikita Rudakov, he explained:
Why the idea of Russia’s “civilizational superiority” is so popular
Why propaganda encourages the ideological complexes of Russians
How the elite of the 2000s is trying to turn back history.
00:00 Chas Speak: Sergei Medvedev 01:40 The imperialist mindset and the idea of Russia’s greatness 06:10 Is there no place for nationalism in the imperialist mindset? 08:05 “Russia colonized itself” 14:03 The superiority of big ideas: why didn’t the USA become an empire? 21:02 The ideological complexes of Russians 25:41 “We rise from our knees via military achievements and parades on Red Square” 26:50 “Lukashenko does with us what he will”: Russia and Belarus 30:56 “Russia wants to live in the myth of 1945” 34:40 “We were unable to create a nation state”
Today, on Razyezhaya, I came across a simply perfect illustration of what we’re living through.
Source: Marina Varchenko, Facebook, 25 December 2022. Razyezhaya is a street in central Petersburg that I know like the back of my hand since I lived nearby for many years. ||| TRR
These comments by Mira Tai were published by Doxa, the Russian online student magazine that has become a prominent voice against the war.
Hello! It’s Mira.
The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has compelled many people, who live in Russia but are not ethnic Russians [russkie], to think about how we actually became the “small peoples of Russia” [a widely used term for the non-Russian nationalities that make up about one fifth of Russia’s population]. We saw many parallels between the way that the “Russian world” is trying to swallow up independent Ukraine, and the way that the ethnic republics “voluntarily became part of Russia” previously.
We have seen how the state, in which openly-declared nationalists hold leading posts in government bodies, justifies the massacre of citizens of a neighbouring country as “denazification”. We have seen how the propaganda machine is speaking openly about the renaissance of a gigantic centralised empire, in which there is no identity except Russian, and no other language than Russian.
These months have made all of us pose a mass of difficult questions, to ourselves and to each other. And no matter how hard the Russian propaganda machine tries to ridicule or denigrate this process, it will not be stopped and not be turned back – because we have changed. The surge of anger among non-Russian people has gone too far. The genie will not be put back in the bottle.
And the further it goes, the more astonishing it becomes that the majority of prominent Russian liberals and representatives of the “anti-Putin resistance”, continue to ignore what is happening. A great example is the new educational project, “Renaissance” [“Vozrozhdenie”], which opened today [23 December] and which has been loudly advertised on Ekaterina Schulmann’s Youtube channel over the last few months.
For the project, nine men and Ekaterina Schulmann invite people to take courses on the theory of democracy, capitalism and protest, the history of Christianity, and so on. They promise that in future this knowledge will facilitate the working-out of “a strategy for the Russian state, rebuilt and reborn as the inheritor of Russian, European and world culture”. Judging by the visual images chosen – golden-haired young women in Monomakh caps [the crown symbol of the pre-1917 Russian autocracy], gold leaf and portraits of monarchs – the school’s founders are especially inspired by the aesthetics of the Russian empire.
In a video in the section “About Us”, the word “civilisation” appears together with a picture of a young, rouged Ekaterina the Second [usually Catherine the Great in English-language history books] – the empress who first seized Crimea and began the process of genocide against the Crimean Tatars. That same Ekaterina, whose army slaughtered the population of whole towns in the name of the country’s “growth”.
And so in the tenth month of the full-scale Russian attack on Ukraine, we continue to witness how Russian liberals ignore any consideration of decolonisation. They do not even pose questions about the ideas and interests of those who have not been, and do not want to be, “inheritors of Russian culture”. They have not been troubled by doubts about the abstract liberal ideals of “democracy, freedom and peace”; they have no hesitation in proposing “Europe” as the source of progress, as opposed to the east. One of the courses offered by “Renaissance” is titled, in the best traditions of orientalism: “The East: a delicate matter”. …
People who can today link the word “civilisation” with portraits of Ekaterina the Second and festive, gold-trimmed panoramas of Moscow and St Petersburg, and who can promise the “renaissance of Russia”, must be blind and deaf to the suffering, and the hatred, of the Chechen people, who were subjected to genocide by the nearly-democratic Moscow of the 1990s. Blind and deaf to the hatred, and suffering, of the Ukrainian people, subjected to genocide by the authoritarian Moscow of 2022. Blind and deaf to the hatred, and suffering, of everyone whose first language definitely should not have to be Russian. And this lack of feeling is monstrous.
□ These comments appeared in Doxa’s Anti-War Digest on 23 December. I have translated them, because I think they offer useful starting-points for discussion about “decolonisation” of Russia that has begun not only among anti-war Russians, but also among those elsewhere who take the side of Ukrainian resistance. With Mira Tai, we witness “how Russian liberals ignore any consideration of decolonisation” – and, I would add, some self-proclaimed socialists do the same. One such is the writer and publicist Boris Kagarlitsky, who is to teach courses for “Renaissance,” and appears in its introduction video. He expressed opposition to this year’s invasion, but only after years of support for Russia’s imperial adventure in Ukraine since 2014 (for which he was criticised on this blog and elsewhere). SP.
□ To read more about Doxa in English, see an interview with Doxa activists just published by the Ukrainian socialist journal Spil’ne (Commons), and these speeches from the dock by Doxa editors Armen Aramyan, Volodya Metelkin, and Natasha Tyshkevich. They were tried on criminal charges last year, after publishing a video that discussed whether teachers should discourage students from attending demonstrations to support Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner. (Doxa’s new website is in Russian.)
The LED composition “Double Hearts” has been installed on Palace Square in honor of the sister city relationship between Petersburg and Mariupol, as reported on the city’s VK page.
The “Double Hearts” project was approved by Governor Alexander Beglov. Earlier, the installation was on display in a Mariupol city park. It symbolizes the unity, friendship, and love between people living in the sister cities.
Earlier, 78.ru reported that Petersburg authorities would hold a “Wish Tree” event for children from Mariupol.
Palace Square right now. It’s a three-minute walk from here to the house where I grew up and the school where I studied. Right there is the Hermitage, where I used to work.
I wish this were a dream and I could wake up.
Source: Tatyana Razumovskaya, Facebook, 13 December 2022. Thanks to VG for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader
Alexander Andreyev from St. Petersburg has been killed in the military operations in Ukraine. In 2020, he graduated from School No. 368 in the city’s Frunzensky District. The school administration reported the news on its VK page.
During his school years, Andreyev was the captain of the 368 Superheroes volunteer group, and “from the very beginning he was eager to defend his Motherland,” reports the school’s VK page. In the summer, the young man went to serve and was enlisted in the 76th Pskov Airborne Division, the page reports. Later, he signed a contact, and in early October he was sent to the war zone, the post says.
Alexander was killed on October 18, according to the school administration, when the observation post where the soldier was located came under mortar attack. Andreyev was awarded the Order of Courage and buried in the Avenue of Heroes at Babigon Cemetery, the message says.
This is at least the fourth known death of a Petersburger in the war in Ukraine. Earlier, a school teacher from Petersburg, physical education teacher Vadim Sedov, was killed there. In addition, in the first week of October, Andrei Nikiforov, a member of the Nevsky Bar Association, was killed near Lisichansk. In mid-November, news arrived of the death in Mariupol of Konstantin Simonov, a Petersburger who volunteered to fight in March.
The Smolny [Petersburg city hall] is considering three options for special parking permits for residents of the Admiralty District [rayon], Fontanka.ruwrites. On November 1, paid parking was introduced there, and locals were given the option to park their cars in their municipal precinct [okrug] for 1,800 rubles a year, the online media outlet reported.
Petersburgers recalled that residents of the Central District use similar permits throughout its territory, and not only in their own [smaller] municipal precincts, Fontanka.rureports.
As the media outlet’s journalists have written without specifying their source, there are now three possible options for how paid parking will work for Admiralty District residents:
— everything will remain as it is: supporters of this proposal say that permits are needed so that a person can park outside their house for free, while trips around the district only increase traffic, which is what the reform is meant to combat
— the validity of permits will extend to the entire district: proponents of this idea believe that such innovations will soften the public outcry
— residents of the Admiralty District will be able to choose another district in which their permits are valid, giving them the opportunity to travel around nearby districts without worrying about paying for parking.
According to the media outlet, the Smolny will make a choice in the coming days.
Paid parking was introduced in the Admiralty District on November 1. Now those who want to park their car here have to pay 39 or 100 rubles per hour, depending on the type of vehicle, or buy an expensive monthly or annual pass.
But for those who live in the district, the authorities have introduced special annual parking permits that cost 1,800 rubles a year, but are valid only in the municipal precinct in which the motorist owns property or is registered to live. To park a car in any other municipal precinct, one has to pay the standard fare.
On December 9, our country celebrates Day of Heroes of the Fatherland. On this day, Heroes of the Soviet Union, Heroes of the Russian Federation, and recipients of the Order of St. George and the Order of Glory are honored.
And on this day we want to tell you about a hero of our time, Alexander Igorevich Andreyev, a graduate of our school.
ALEXANDER IGOREVICH ANDREYEV
During his school years, Sasha was the team captain of the 368 Superheroes volunteer movement.
From the very beginning of the SMO, he sought to defend the Motherland. In the summer he went to serve and was able to enlist in the legendary Pskov 76th Airborne Division.
He signed a contract [as a volunteer] and just recently, in early October, was deployed in the special military operation.
On October 17, his unit was involved in heavy combat. When a comrade’s machine gun jammed, Alexander covered him before he himself attacked the enemy’s positions, thus contributing to the further advance of the paratroopers. By the end of the day, an enemy fortification had been captured. The next day, October 18, Alexander was at an observation post when the enemy opened fire with a mortar. He was hit by a shell and fatally wounded.
He died at his combat post. He was twenty years old.
By decree of the President of the Russian Federation, Alexander Andreyev has been awarded the Order of Courage.
Alexander is buried at the Babigon Cemetery on the Avenue of Heroes.
May the memory of this Russian Hero, friend and faithful comrade live forever.
We will never forget you!
Source: Secondary School No. 368 Frunzensky District of St. Petersburg, VK, 9 December 2022. Image of Alexander Andreyev courtesy of School No. 368. Translated by the Russian Reader
Petersburg is all gussied up in sparkling joyful lights. The holiday is coming to our town.
I have just read a letter from an acquaintance in a neighboring country:
“There has been no electricity in my city for almost a month. Previously, it was on for four hours a day, then for two, and then for one to two hours every few days. The last time the electricity was on was Friday for two hours. There are no schedules: it can be turned on at three a.m. when everyone is asleep and you just miss it. Along with electricity, there is also no water and heating, although it’s winter outside. Since electricity is provided for one to two hours every few days, it is only at this time that the cellphone tower begins to send out a signal. The rest of the time there is no mobile connection or internet. We have been plunged into the nineteenth century and life has come to a grinding halt.”
Source: Sergey Abashin, Facebook, 13 December 2022. Photo, above, by the author. Translated by the Russian Reader
The main problem with TV Rain is that neither its staffers nor its defenders really understand what the problem with it is.
It is especially funny when people who have been stumping for years for “situational cooperation with the regime in the Kremlin for good ends” are outraged by the revocation of TV Rain’s license.
Sooner or later, they’ll get round to you, too.
“Moderate law-abiding protest” in Russia isn’t worth anything at all, basically. Its value is negative, rather. It does not give one the moral high ground and does not empower one to write off errors. On the contrary. And those who want to continue the policy of compromise shouldn’t be offended that no one regards them as a real opposition and sees no value in them.
[TV Rain’s broadcast was revoked] not because “there are such laws in Latvia”, or because “they are traumatized due to the occupation,” or because [the Latvians] suffer from “Russophobia.”
[It happened] because the real value of “moderate” oppositionists who even in exile remain loyal to the pro-regime “silent majority” is close to nil.
Since they do nothing to bring Russia’s defeat closer even by a second, they perform no important political, humanitarian or military function.
They are thus useless.
Source: Aleksandr Fukson, Facebook, 6 December 2022. Translation and photo by the Russian Reader
The “[TV] Rain Case” has wound up sadly, at the end of the day. After the revocation of its license, the channel’s editorial team had a good opportunity to apologize once again to the audience, to the large group of Russian opposition media located in Latvia, and to the Latvian government and the European Union as a whole, which have been supporting Russian media in exile, and to announce that the editorial team hopes that the license would be restored.
But that’s not what happened. What did happen was much, much worse. Moscow imperial haughtiness came pouring out of all the cracks. For Moscow journalists are “citizens of the world,: and so they are empowered teach other peoples to respect human rights, including “freedom of opinion.” [TV Rain editor-in-chief] Tikhon [Dzyadko] shot off his mouth about the “absurd decision” for some reason. It’s just a mystery: Tikhon is smart, after all, and all of them are quite sensible there, and TV Rain is an essential media institution and does its job well. Why do they have to talk arrogantly to the government of Latvia?
Over the last twenty-four hours, TV Rain’s liberal well-wishers have written tons of disparaging, mocking posts about Latvia, which “is trampling” [on the rights of Russians], etc. They say that it is impossible to relocate there, that the folks in the former outskirts of our empire don’t like us. Well, no fucking wonder, eh?! No, we shall never get over this haughtiness. You knock yourself out trying to argue that it is possible to “recycle experience” and stop this haughtiness, when — oops! —all your work is nullified. Apparently, those who say that we just have to raze the whole MSK down to the foundations are right. Otherwise, there will be no life for anyone.
Source: Alexander Morozov, Facebook, 6 December 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader
It’s impossible, of course, to look at all the Russian chutzpah about “Latvia helped Putin today.”
In the summer, Latvia transferred 200 million euros worth of weapons and uniforms to Ukraine. This is just from what I remember offhand. They also sent six self-propelled howitzers and six helicopters. For Latvia’s small military budget, this is a lot, in relative terms.
What has the Russian opposition sent to Ukraine? Their fervent greetings? The demand not to offend them on the internet? Maxim Katz’s program?
Latvia has already done much more for [a Ukrainian] victory than all the TV Rains and Katzes combined, just millions of times more.
Source: Dmytro Raevsky, Facebook, 6 December 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader
Latvia’s decision Tuesday to withdraw the broadcast license of independent Russian television channel Dozhd caused disbelief and anger among the media outlet’s journalists and soul-searching among other Russian journalists in exile.
The Baltic country’s media watchdog said in a statement announcing the revocation that Dozhd posed “threats to national security and social order” following a series of fines issued over the outlet’s coverage of the war in Ukraine.
“I’ve been fighting for all these years to remain human in any situation… [but] I feel like a disgusting scoundrel,” Dozhd co-founder Natalia Sindeeva said between sobs in a video posted to her Telegram channel after the announcement.
“The entire TV channel is at stake.”
While Dozhd has yet to announce its response, the Latvian decision poses difficult questions for other independent Russian media outlets forced into exile in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dozhd was one of a group of independent Russian media outlets that re-established themselves abroad after the passage of repressive wartime censorship laws earlier this year, with many congregating in the Latvian capital.
Other independent Russian media outlets based in Riga include Meduza, the BBC Russian Service, and Novaya Gazeta Europe.
“It’s a very bad sign for journalists,” said one reporter from a Russian-language media outlet that moved to Riga after the start of the war who requested anonymity as he had been told not to comment on the Dozhd situation.
“Journalists obviously cannot go back to Russia where they are threatened with criminal prosecution. But they are also unlikely to be able to work quietly in Latvia.”
Many would “think of moving to another country as soon as they have the opportunity,” said another Russian journalist in Latvia who also requested anonymity.
Dozhd first came under fire when anchor Alexei Korostelev last week asked TV viewers to send information on Russia’s drafted soldiers and mistakes during the mobilization. The channel was subsequently fined for displaying a map showing annexed Crimea as part of Russia and for calling the Russian Armed Forces “our army.”
Some Ukrainian and Latvian commentators interpreted Korostelev’s words as an expression of support for Russian troops in Ukraine.
The Latvian authorities opened an investigation into Dozhd on Friday, saying that “the statements made in the program are directed against the interests of Latvia’s national security.” The Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) on Tuesday also called for a ban of Dozhd’s YouTube channel in Latvia.
Latvia’s State Security Service urged the authorities on Tuesday to bar Korostelev from entering the country, adding that it also warned Dozhd editor-in-chief Tikhon Dzyadko of possible “criminal liability in case of committing criminal offenses.”
“Today’s decision is absurd and it has nothing to do with common sense,” said Dzyadko during Tuesday’s live news show.
“When you are switched off the air for far-fetched reasons for the first time — it is perceived as a tragedy,” Dzyadko said, referring to the channel’s removal from Russian cable packages in 2014.
“When eight years later you are called a threat to the national security of Latvia — it is perceived as a farce,” he said.
Dozhd — which started broadcasting from Latvia in June after its staff fled Russia — said it would continue to broadcast on its YouTube channel. The channel also has offices in Tbilisi and Amsterdam.
Korostelev, who was fired by Dozhd for his words, said on Friday that they had been no more than “a slip of the tongue.”
Despite his protestations, his words have caused widespread anger, however.
“When ‘good Russians’ are helping ‘bad Russians’ — can the world finally understand that they are all the same?” Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko wrote on Telegram on Friday.
Over the weekend, at least three journalists resigned from Dozhd to show their solidarity with Korostelev, while others told The Moscow Times that the current situation reminded them of the crackdown on opposition media in Russia and would ultimately only help Moscow push its pro-war narrative.
“It was the worst thing we could do in that situation… I want to say sorry,” Sindeeva said in an emotional video statement on Tuesday after the revocation of the license, in which she also asked the fired journalists, including Korostelev, to return.
International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged Latvia on Tuesday to rethink its decision.
“Dozhd is one of the few independent channels with Russian journalists broadcasting to the Russian-speaking public,” Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said in a statement.
“The withdrawal of its license would be a serious blow to journalistic freedom, independence and pluralism.”
Some Ukrainian officials also expressed their support for Dozhd.
“They explained their position absolutely clearly, that their position is anti-war and pro-Ukrainian,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said on Tuesday.
Latvia’s decision to revoke Dozhd’s license would make it harder to report “truthful and objective information for Russian-speaking audiences,” a Russian journalist in Latvia, who requested anonymity, told The Moscow Times.
“That is exactly what the Kremlin is trying to achieve.”
Source: “Latvian Decision to Revoke Russian TV Station’s License Sparks Fear, Disbelief,” Moscow Times, 6 December 2022
Alexander Kharichev, head of the Presidential Department for Supporting the Work of the State Council, and three other experts have published a scholarly article entitled “Perception of basic values, factors, and structures of Russia’s socio-historical development, as based on research and testing.” As part of the study, seventy people from the student bodies of Moscow State University and the Higher School of Economics and the teaching staff of a conference in Sevastopol [sic] were interviewed. Among the metaphors of the future they proposed was the burnt second volume of Dead Souls; among the concepts of the modern state, “the Motherland with a laser sword”; among the concepts of the future, “Russia as the world’s ‘guardian of good” and “Pasty” [sic: “Pirozhok”]. The authors concluded that the dominant value for the Russian family is the people of Russia, which itself is a “family of families.”
Mr. Kharichev’s co-authors were Andrei Shutov, dean of the faculty of political science at Moscow State University; Andrei Polosin, doctor of political science and head of Rosatom’s regional interaction department; and Ekaterina Sokolova, deputy executive director for strategy and forecasting at the Expert Institute for Social Research. The article was published in October in the Journal of Political Studies.
The study was conducted by means of group discussions from March to May. The seventy participants answered questions about what Russian statehood is, what would happen to the country in ten years, what our future is, and a number of others.
Based on the discussions, the researchers formed a five-level “pentabasis”: person—family—society—state—country. Dominant values were formed for each level. For the country, [this dominant value] is patriotism; for the state, it is trust in the institutions of power; for the family, it is the people of Russia; for society, it is harmony; for the person, it is creativity. “The thesis was voiced that European society is individualistic, whereas our main value is family + family with friends, which leads to the emergence of the thesis ‘family as a level.’ The dominant value: the people of the Russian Federation as a family of families. Stimulating the birth rate and the concept of a ‘big family,’ the article says [just as incoherently in the original as in this translation].
Metaphors of Russia’s future. “The state as a novel” (written collectively by citizens, it has alternative endings); “the Russian future as the second part of Dead Souls, burned by Gogol,” “the state as the Firebird.”
Concepts of the modern state. “[The] Motherland with a laser sword” (a source of pride for the Russian spirit and a guide to the future), “the friendly service state.”
Messianic concepts of the future state. “Russia as a ‘prophet country’ (opposed to the Grand Inquisitor), “Russia as the world guardian, the ‘guardian of good.'”
Idealistic concepts of the future state. “Wondrous City” ([i.e., promoting] inclusivity, coexistence, acceptance of others as equals; “in no case to be confused with the term ‘tolerance'”), “Pasty” (harmoniously combines different things).
Mechanistic concepts of the future state. “Kaleidoscope” (a multifaceted future), “a medium-sized magnet state” (generates a field for a particular community).
The study participants concluded that the person in the “Russia of the Future” is “proud of his country, influential and highly employable, financially secure, [and] free within certain community rules.” According to the authors of the article, the ideas of self-realization in the Russian Federation are very different from those common in the Western world.
“In the Russian case, self-realization or mission means that an individual contributes to the country’s development. Capitalizing [on one’s] mission is an optional stage,” the authors write.
What are we fighting for? Russia is a huge, rich country. We don’t need foreign territories; we have plenty of everything. But there is our land, which is sacred to us, on which our ancestors lived and on which our people live today. And which we will not surrender to anyone. We are defending our people. We are fighting for all of our own people, for our land, for our thousand-year history.
Who is fighting against us? We are fighting against those who hate us, who ban our language, our values, and even our faith, who spread hatred towards the history of our Fatherland.
A part of the dying world is against us today. It consists of a bunch of crazy Nazi drug addicts, the common people they have drugged and intimidated, and a large pack of barking dogs from the western kennel. They are joined by motley pack of grunting piggies and narrow-minded philistines from the disintegrated western empire with saliva running down their chins due to degeneration. They have no faith and ideals, except for the harmful vices they have contrived and the standards of doublethink they impose, which deny the morality bestowed on normal people. Therefore, by rising up against them, we have gained sacred power.
Where are our former friends? We have been abandoned by some frightened partners — and I could not give a flying crap about them. That means they were not our friends, but just random fellow travelers, clingers, and hangers-on.
Cowardly traitors and greedy defectors have bugged out for the back of beyond — may their bones rot in a foreign land. They are not among us, but we have become stronger and purer.
Why were we silent for a long time? We were weak and devastated by hard times. And now we have shaken off the sticky sleep and dreary gloom of the last decades, into which the death of the former Fatherland had plunged us. Other countries have been waiting for our awakening, countries raped by the lords of darkness, slaveholders and oppressors who dream of their monstrous colonial past and long to preserve their power over the world. Many countries have long disbelieved their nonsense but are still afraid of them. Soon they will wake up once and for all. And when the rotten world order collapses, it will bury all its arrogant priests, bloodthirsty adepts, mocking henchmen, and tongue-tied mankurts under the multi-ton pile of its own debris.
What is our weapon? There are various weapons. We have the capacity to dispatch all our enemies to a fiery hell, but that is not our mission. We listen to the Creator’s words in our hearts and obey them. These words give us a sacred purpose. The goal is to stop the supreme ruler of hell, no matter what name he uses – Satan, Lucifer, or Iblis. For his goal is destruction. Our goal is life.
Regarding the Convocation of a Congress of People’s Deputies of the Russian Federation in Poland
From open sources, we have learned about an undertaking to convene a Congress of People’s Deputies in the town of Jabłonna, Poland (November 4–7, 2022). The delegates to the Congress are parliamentary deputies of different years and different levels who were elected in internationally recognized elections. Rejection of the war between Russia and Ukraine that began in 2014 and a willingness to change the socio-political system established in the Russian Federation are their common platform. The event’s organizers have announced that they will adopt a “Declaration on the Constitutional Principles of a Free Russia after the Putin regime’s overthrow,” a “list of priority decisions by the post-Putin Russian government,” etc.
In the light of this news:
We cannot but note the fact that [free and fair] elections in the Russian Federation disappeared long before 2014. Ethno-national political parties were banned thirteen years before Ukrainian region of Crimea was annexed. Thus, despite the fact that the Russian Federation, according to its own constitution, is a federation, and most of the ethno-national republics within the Russian Federation are nation-states with their own constitutions, parliaments, and governments, we have been deprived of the opportunity to represent and defend our interests in representative bodies for decades.
We acknowledge that the Russian Federation as a state has gone too far both in its ethno-national policy (extolling the Russian nation as chosen and endowing it with a special status in the Russian Federal Constitution) and in its foreign policy, thus completely destroying the legal space of the federation. The Russian Federation currently has no clear and legitimate borders, nor does it have legitimate representative bodies, since there are “deputies” and “senators” seated in the Federal Assembly who were, allegedly, delegated by illegally annexed foreign territories.
In light of the above considerations, we, representatives of the ethno-national and regionalist movements united in the Free Nations League, declare the following:
1. We do not recognize any political forces and hubs that would justify maintaining the Russian Federation in its current form. We have no need of arbitrators from Moscow, neither from the authorities nor from the opposition. We are open to dialogue and contact only with those who publicly support the right of enslaved peoples to establish independent States.
2. The Russian Federation cannot be re-established by cutting off what was seized by force and holding new elections. It is not elections that are at issue, but the very nature of Russian statehood: it is imperialist and exudes aggression towards its neighbors. This means that we, representatives of ethno-national republics and regions, have the right to shape our own destiny. If there is a discussion of independence for certain lands, let the people themselves hold this discussion, let them decide which confederations or unions to join, free from the intervention of federal forces, be they the government or the opposition. Any attempts at “peacekeeping,” attempts to teach us how to exercise our right to self-determination, will be rejected by us, and if they are intrusive, they will be met with a forceful response.
3. The process of forming a new Russian state should be voluntary and undertaken exclusively by those federal subjects whose legislative bodies vote to join a new federation. All federal parties currently represented among the federal authorities should be banned since they profess a misanthropic ideology that has produced thousands of victims and millions of refugees. The legislative bodies of the former federal subjects must be re-elected democratically, by open and secret ballot, with the involvement of ethno-national and regional political parties. There can be no automatic entry into the “renewed” Russia, no joining it “by inheritance.”
This appeal has been signed by representatives of the following national movements:
Source: Free Nations League, Facebook, 31 October 2022. Thanks to Sergey Ogurtsov for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader
The FNL’s Principles
The Russian Federation is an empire that keeps its colonies in servitude by force. It is impossible to liberate them by holding a referendum, just as a referendum on the observance of human rights is impossible under conditions of state terror.
The peoples of the Russian Federation should be able to exercise their right to self-determination. Further federations or confederations can be established only a voluntary basis, not by diktat of the former federal center.
We declare the principle of the presumption of identity and agency [sub’ektnost’]. Accordingly, with the collapse of the current political regime in the Russian Federation, the regions have no need to appeal to anything to endow themselves with sovereignty. By definition, all regions acquire complete sovereignty and full independence from Moscow, and only then, as free territories, do they decide their future: whether they want to maintain independence, unite with other regions and republics, or create a confederation of states.
All subjects of the Russian Federation have the right to independently determine their future.
Source: “About Us,” Free Nations League. Translated by the Russian Reader
Since Masha Gessen quite literally believes that the Russian “liberal” intelligentsia is God’s gift to humankind, she writes the following nationalist nonsense with a completely straight face:
In the seven and a half months since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, hundreds of thousands of Russians have left their country. Many of them are journalists, writers, poets, or artists, and they, along with some who are still in Russia, have been producing essays, poems, Facebook posts, and podcasts trying to grapple with the condition of being citizens of a country waging a genocidal colonial war. Some of their Ukrainian counterparts have scoffed at their soul-searching. Ukrainians, indeed, have bigger and more immediate problems. But they also have certainty—they know who they are in the world, while for Russians nothing is as it once seemed to be.
The last time people were writing in Russian so urgently was in the late nineteen-eighties. Soviet citizens back then had been confronted with their past—the Stalinist terror. That moment gave Russia, among other things, Memorial, the human-rights organization that, along with Ukrainian and Belarusian activists, won the Nobel Peace Prize last week. Now Russian citizens are being confronted with their present. The writers in exile have physically fled their country (as has much of Memorial’s leadership) and are trying to write their way to a new Russia. Their imagination extends far beyond the Russian constitution to a world that’s radically different, and better than not only Putin’s revanchist Russian World but the world we currently inhabit.
The queue for the ferry. There are Russian tourists behind me. (If you thought there were none of them [in Europe anymore], think again.) The boat arrives, but there’s not room enough for everyone and the guard closes the barrier just in front of us. Everyone stands there meekly, except my compatriots. As soon as the guard turns around, they dive under the barrier and run onto the crowded ship. They look like Moscow hipsters.
When did these people decide that everything is permitted them and that there are no prohibitions and rules? I missed this moment because the Soviet Untermenschen among whom I grew up considered themselves worse than everyone and were afraid of making a peep. Who instilled this hubris in them? How did they get it into their heads that they could go to war with the whole world and win?
(A spare boat was brought in five minutes later, of course, and it took us all away without any fuss or crush.)
Source: Dmitry Volchek, Facebook, 15 October 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader