- You live between St. Pete and Moscow. Is there a difference between the views on the events here and there?
- The feeling of being neglected is stronger in St. Pete, which is typical of the relations between the provinces and the metropolis. The problems we've got here are somewhat different. We had our first snow ten days ago, and now electricity is being turned off periodically, neighborhood after neighborhood. I, for example, didn't have electricity part of today, and part of yesterday, and the day before yesterday. I was really curious about how the governor would deal with it. Last year, when the temperatures hit minus 30 Celcius, and electricity was shut off together with central heating, Yakovlev, [the former] governor, uttered an amazing sentence: "Oh, come on, of course we'll survive this winter - we've survived the Siege [of Leningrad during WWII], haven't we?"
- Then why, despite this, aren't there protests in St. Pete, and the turnout rates during the election are among the lowest in Russia?
- It's the so called "legal nihilism." The society became corrupted as the result of what had been done to it during the election. If they now succeed in squeezing Yanukovych into power in Ukraine, a monstrous thing would happen in a couple years, when at least half the country would not trust any elections. Just think of the [Russian] Duma elections of 1999 and 2003, and how the turnout rates have fallen.
- Putin openly supported Yanukovych. Do you think this would affect the West's attitude towards Russia?
- I'm afraid this will not lead to any real actions of the West. I admire the protesters in Ukraine: they've proved that they are a completely different people than we are. They do have a Soviet-minded segment, ready to spread itself for any kind of government, but half the country is now totally different. I'm very happy that their [the Russian government's] conviction that everything they've done here could be achieved anywhere turned out to be groundless. Now they'll fuck up in Abkhazia - and it'll definitely happen - and it'll be wonderful. To me, it feels like some totally Brezhnev times again, when you love the country but wish to see the state defeated completely.
Friday, December 10, 2004
Dunya (Avdotya) Smirnova, a Russian screenwriter, journalist, TV host and, since 1998, one of my favorite people in general, sort of, thinks that Russian TV is covering Ukraine outrageously. The coverage is remindful of the Brezhnev times, she says in an interview with Bolshoi Gorod, a Russian-language Moscow weekly. Here's some more, on a slightly different topic, translated from Russian: