[...] Every Russian person that finds themselves the victim of Russophobia and Western mistrust today owes a great deal of their position to Mr. Djugashvili. His government killed millions, and yet very few of the war criminals in it were ever held accountable for their crimes. And so, 60 years after it was erected, some Estonians find accountability in an old bronze statue. [...]
This reads totally okay when I do it quickly, but when I pause, all kinds of thoughts start entering my head.
- Something's terribly wrong with this premise: Russians suffering from Russophobia should blame Stalin, a Georgian, for it. It's almost funny, isn't it, considering the recent gruzinophobia in Moscow...
- The Russian in me is somewhat bewildered.
My great-grandfather Andrei Khokhlov moved from Moscow to Kyiv at the beginning of the 20th century. He was a hair-dresser. An ethnic Russian, as far as we know (my father told me once there was some Greek blood in us somewhere, but he didn't know the details).
My grandfather Sergei Khokhlov (my father's father, who died in 1969, five years before I was born) made quite a career at Ukraine's ministry of construction.
His sisters were architects - one lived in Kyiv, the other in Moscow, and the third in St. Petersburg.
Sergei's wife, my father's mother, was from a Russian village located somewhere near the Ukrainian border. She was ethnic Russian, too - without any doubts.
Her younger brother, Pavlusha, was drafted into the army around the time the shameful Soviet-Finnish War started - and he was taken POW pretty soon, somewhere in Estonia.
After he was released, they sent him to the camps, and later exiled him to Central Asia.
Pavlusha's father followed his son in exile and died and is buried there.
My father used to visit Pavlusha and his family (and his grandfather's grave) every time he went to Tashkent for a tennis tournament. Pavlusha was married to a woman who, judging by the way their daughters looked, must have had some Uzbek blood in her - but again, we don't know the details.
Here's a picture of Pavlusha's daughters and his son - my aunts and uncle:
I've never met any of them, but discovered this photo when I was 14 or so and had an instant crush on this breathtakingly beautiful man who somehow happened to be my uncle - I used to feel so lucky about it.
We don't keep in touch with this branch of the family: last time I heard, they were living somewhere in Russia.
There are many details I'm too lazy to write about now, and there are many details I don't remember. The only one who does is my father, but, in his present condition, he won't be able to share any of it with me. It really hurts to realize this: that in addition to my father, I'm losing bits of family history, forever.
Anyway, what am I trying to say?
There's enough Russian in me, I guess, to feel "Russophobia and Western mistrust" - and yet I never do. It must be because there's enough Ukrainian in me, too. And only God knows what else and how much of it. Which doesn't make me any less Russian, of course. Which probably means that this whole Russophobia thing has way too many loopholes in it.