Any misstep, let alone the belief that we can not only give advice, but also criticize Ukrainians, is counterproductive. And in this respect, the story with Viktor Shenderovich, for all its unpleasantness…
As you know, I am familiar with the sensation of having items of your clothing rendered unusable by contact with egg yolk or ketchup. In Putin’s Russia, back in the vegetarian days, when they were still hooligans and not locking us up, I went through all that. So I can only sympathize. But if you go beyond this action, so to speak, beyond such actions, which I do not support, then some of Shenderovich’s statements and, moreover, the repetition of these statements and the deep conviction that he can lead today “the fight against Ukrainian Nazism” and point out to Ukraine the costs of the holy war that the Ukrainian people are fighting today… All of this is counterproductive (let’s be diplomatic).
In fact, this is a big problem for Russians. Whoever doubts this, do a little experiment. Use the analogy of World War II. Because the situations are similar, Putin is the new Hitler, it seems clear to us. Nevertheless, some people have a blackout, because they do not want to draw parallels and put themselves in this situation. So, let’s imagine: Stefan Zweig in 1940 begins to argue about Polish anti-Semitism. How would it look like? While in emigration, the famous Jewish writer, an Austrian, reflects that, actually, there is a problem of Polish anti-Semitism. Can you imagine?
Now let’s make a historical excursion, not to Austria or Germany, but to the Soviet Union. And let’s evaluate it in terms of the ethical positions that Shenderovich defends. It was not even just Viktor alone – there was a group of people who felt sympathy for him, saying: “Here we are going to declare ourselves!”.
You have no right to say anything! You have no right to criticize the Ukrainians, while Russian fascism is brutalizing the Ukrainian land! Moreover, this right may not appear in our lifetime – it also happens. Yes, it is unpleasant. But it is a historical fact with which we must come to terms.
And now let’s go back to the Soviet Union. How do we evaluate such words?
Then kill one!
Then kill him quickly!
As many times as you see him,
Kill him as many times as you see him!
This is Konstantin Simonov’s poem, we learned it at school. How should they be qualified? As fascism and incitement to hatred? “Him” is a German. Go to the Internet, see how many posters there were: “Kill the German!”. Fascist, German, it made no difference. It was later, in ’45 or at the end of ’44, Stalin would say: “We should have separated”…
But Ukraine is not in that position now. It is fighting a holy war, just as the Soviet Union did after June 22, 1941. Before then, the USSR was the same aggressor as Nazi Germany.
And now imagine how people in the Soviet Union reacted to the war. By the way, it is indicative: the Jew Ehrenburg, the Jew Simonov – they all wrote this. And now imagine the reaction of the Ukrainians, who are condemned by Russian immigrants for allowing themselves to say that there should be no Russians.
Yes, we all understand. And we can discuss among ourselves that it’s bad – when the great Russian culture is subjected to pejorative treatment, when they use the term “Russian” instead of “putinist” to say… Amongst yourselves, please! Discuss. But in public – shut up! Because all of this will come back to us like a boomerang. And the most unpleasant thing about this story is that the number of Shenderovich’s volunteer lawyers is off the charts!
I say it again: contact of our clothes with such consumer items as ketchup or egg yolk is wrong. But I’m afraid this is just the beginning of rejection – from Ukraine. And it will ricochet off the entire liberal community.
One of the problems that we have in pushing the concept that we have the potential to create a virtual South Korea, or a virtual Taiwan, with which a million or two million Russian immigrants can integrate, is the resistance from the Ukrainian side. The Ukrainian side says: “What difference does it make between you and the putinists? You may pay lip service to our victory, but listen to how you talk about “our boys”, how they complain that we mistreat Russian culture… We have people killed here every day!”.
All in all, it’s a rather long and difficult story, precisely because of the depth of that moral collapse, that catastrophe that we are facing and that we have to live with. I’m 60 years old – most likely, for the rest of my life, we will live with it. And we need to look for ways to change all this – in the consciousness of the entire civilized world.
Right now we have to be extremely careful. Alas, Viktor Shenderovich, with his statements, provokes those stories that will boomerang on all of us…