Updated at 01:25,03-03-2021

Svetlana Alexievich: There is little Putin inside each Russian


Russians want the whole world to fear them.

A well-known Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich answered questions of Radio Svaboda reporter about Russia after Crimea’s annexation.

There are some passages of the interview.

- In one of the recent articles of Frankfurter Allgemeine abuot Russia after Crimea you write about a return to Stalinism in Russia amid a patriotic craze. But it is an Orthodox Stalinism. Why is it possible in Russia?

- There is only one reason. This “little red man” kept a low profile, he had hidden, he continued living with a sense of defeat. That is because it wasn’t him who was performing what we call “perestroika”. It was done by Gorbachov and a bunch of intellectuals. And this “little red man” has woken up all of a sudden in a completely unfamiliar country. He didn’t want anything except to get on well. And no one studied the past, or read Solzhenitsyn, Shalamov. It was not interesting to anyone after perestroika, though it was present at book stalls. And expectations failed, as a wild capitalism took place, and no one is satisfied by that, as people had been robbed, and the riches of the country have been plundered. And certainly the sense of revenge is important. It is a desire of a little victorious war was deep-rooted. And this imperial feeling, “great Russia”, we want everybody to fear us. Unfortunately, explanations are the most banal. But it is not just Putin’s thing. In reality, it’s a Putin inside each of Russians. For instance, I has lost very many Russian friends, as I could not share their patriotism, their ecstasy caused by the word “Anschluss”, “annexation”. I am a representative of a little nation, and we do not have such feelings at all. As an intellectual, I view these problems from a completely different standpoint.

- So we are witnessing a return of this “red man”?

- He is hiding. And this “little red man” is not necessarily a proletarian. They can be people from the establishment, though they are throwing their money about. It does not matter, their mind is absolutely “red” still. They spend money like water, but for European elite they are street thugs all the same. Everything is constructed in a different way here. Very many people had been working to create a mechanism of a free European country. It is functioning like a single well-oiled machine. So 29 years is a very short term. In Russian literature there had been an important discussion between Shalamov and Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn said that a camp purifies a human, lifts a human, and a person leaves the camp a stronger man. And Shalamov said that an experience of a prison camp does not teach any good things, it humiliates a person, and it is necessary for a camp only. So this little red man has left a camp. And what is done 20 years after? He has built a camp again. That’s why my book is called “Second-hand Time”. Only the wildest version of Orthodoxy has been added to that.