‘THERE IS NO SUCH A THING AS FAIRNESS’: VIBES FROM RUSSIA

The Warrant for the Tsar & Its Psychological Context 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Dialogue. Ukraine. War Pictures.

Calmness As a Strength of Ukrainian People

After the thirteen months of the Mean War, the sides are somewhat settled emotionally, for better or worse. In comparison, this process of emotional settlement of the both sides looks more and more contrast, more and more graphic. And totally surreal, at the side of the aggressor. 

Our Ukrainian relatives and friends who are there, demonstrate not only resilience, will, and remarkable control being under the fire and mortal danger round o’clock, but also incredible calmness. And not only them, those various dear people whom we know personally. The factor of the Ukrainians’ calmness at the prolonged period of attacks, ongoing brutal aggression,  total destruction,  and crazy evil-in-action against them is one of the specific lessons of this war, to me personally. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). In the Skies. Abstract Visions in Blue & Yellow collection.

I did admire it from the very beginning of the war, and I learned to respect it more and more as the Mean War with all its horrors and crimes unfolded for over a year. We all can see the calmness, self-control, composure of President Zelensky, his team, Ukrainian skillful and motivated military, from its high command down to the soldiers who hold on in the trenches for so long and so successfully. The same is seen among Ukrainian teachers, doctors, spiritual leaders, the general public, just anyone. 

“We will prevail, we will win, everything will be well” – this we hear in literally every conversation with our Ukrainian friends, all this time, all thirteen months of the war. 

This incredible calmness and self-composure at all levels and in all groups of Ukrainian society shows most convincingly how people, society and nation which is justified in its stand behave. And what a justified behaviour and attitude means, really. It means conviction from which this remarkable calmness originates. This calmness is both a crucible and a showcase of the Ukrainians strength.  They will prevail. They know it. And many of us know it, too. 

‘ There is no such a thing as fairness’ : Russian society

And their antipodes? What’s going on in Russia, in the sphere of a social life there, is also telling. Very much so. 

This is a first-hand sketch , by an acquaintance, from a recent birthday celebration in Moscow at which twenty something upper-middle class people gathered, all in the age between 45-55 years old. ‘All successful, almost all having their own business, not cannibals, educated, active people. What they were discussing at this birthday gathering of friends? Sport, Oscars, concerts, back and again. Nothing more. Not a word. By anyone. When I tried to bring into the conversation a matter of what a terrible situation we are living through, I was hushed in a second. Arrest of a teenage girl for anti-war drawing? Well, it is sad, of course, but it is rather an exclusion than practice, isn’t it? What are we doing to a neighbouring country? Well, it is all America’s fault, isn’t it? And in general: there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-fairness-a-priori’. 

My acquaintance talked about that recent birthday party which affected her deeply, at length. But after hearing the sentence rounded by ‘a priori’,  I did not need to hear any more of it. The sentence sounded like the sentence, to me. This is this kind of society, and this kind of society currently lives and functions in this kind of completely immoral and humanity uprooted condition. Not all of them, clearly. But there are too many of them. And this is not even a large part which is zombied by the hysterical Russian TV. This is what is known there as ‘a better part’. Oh well. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Ambiguity. War Pictures collection.

It is possible in this society that a person travels in a subway, and at one of the stops, police enters the train and arrests him violently. Why? Because another man travelling in the same train noticed what kind of pictures the arrested one had in his phone, and signalled police from his own phone immediately. Was interested to see what is in the other person’s phone, and was motivated to knock on the police. The young man with ‘a wrong pictures’ in his phone now is arrested for two weeks. And it is only the beginning of his troubles in that country where there is ‘no-such-thing-as fairness’.

It is possible in this society that they have opened a criminal investigation into the art of the 77-year old honourable citizen of Milan Elena Osipova from St Petersburg, trying to find criminally punishable content in her paintings and to put this great woman behind the bars. 

It is possible in the society where the younger generation of their prosecutors have no clue of ‘what kind of case that Nuremberg trial was about?’, as one of them just a couple of days ago asked his superior in the presence of my totally puzzled acquaintance who told the story to his friends. 

The list of current Russian absurdities is not just long, it is endless. They are reaching abysmal heights, re-phrasing the title of the one of the most revealing anti-Soviet books, because many of them, those who are capable of mind activities, know perfectly well, deep down as it is for many, that their country practising military crimes and crimes against humanity for the last thirteen months and counting, and that such society has no solid ground under its feet – exactly as the brain-capable part of the society felt in the Nazi Germany after 1942, keeping it to themselves at the time and for a while. 

The Warrant for the Tsar – and Repercussions for the country 

But then, one early spring afternoon, they all got a surprise. On March 17th, 2023, exactly a year prior the next presidential election in Russia, the International Criminal Court in the Hague issued  – and published, uncharacteristically – the warrant for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin born October 17, 1952, and the Kremlin children’s ombudswoman Maria Lvova-Belova responsible for illegal detain and forced replacement of thousands of the Ukrainian children. Sixteen thousands as I mentioned in my previous essay on the matter. 

The president of the Russian Federation and his high-ranking employee are wanted for the documented crimes against humanity – which has no statute of limitation. 

Since day one of the Mean War, I knew and realised that the legal aspect of it should become the focus of the international community as the top priority. The history of the post- Second World War period, in which  up to 90% of the Nazis were not punished or held responsible for the crimes of the Third Reich in any way, is still booming as one of the largest injustices in the history of humankind. More recently, international legal handling of all regional conflicts – in former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sudan, and any other – cries out for the conscious, timely and serious improvement of this vital aspect of world development. Functioning justice in international conflicts is the measure of international society’s self-respect. Not to speak about not just a conflict, with both parties guilty and involved, but an outcry of unprovoked aggression carried on with daily atrocities of the worst kind. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Dialogue. Ukraine. War Pictures collection.

In their expected defiance, the Kremlin officials and those who are still close to the boss ( it would not be for long, as history teaches us) declared that as Russia is not part of the Rome Statute , along with many countries, including such heavyweights as the US and China, the warrant and anything ICC related is irrelevant for them. Saying it, they all felt short. No hysteria on their imbecile TV, no further comments.  Instead, the boss started to demonstrate hyper-activities travelling to Crimea, and having all his cheap arrogance to visit razed to the ground Mariupol to play a godfather there. Only, he was limзing far more than usual, and his face was dark. Only the Tsar’s press attache was not his cold himself, but seemingly very nervous while commenting on the warrant. They mis-estimated. They were assured by their domestic legal advisers that the head of the state enjoys full immunity in international affairs.  

So, people in the society where ‘there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-fairness’ woke to the new reality after their pathetic Tsar was publicly declared a wanted criminal-suspect, with international warrant for his arrest effective in 123 countries, including all Europe, the UK, the large part of Latin America, and half of Africa. They are now living in the state whose head is indicted by the International Criminal Court. 

They wanted to make Ukraine a pariah? Now they would know the real feeling and following circumstances of what being declared and recognised officially by the international community as pariah means. 

There are several mile-stones which their current Tsar and his Mean War inflicted upon that huge country and its people, with this unprecedented ICC warrant which, as the crimes for which it was issued, has no statute of limitation. Never before in the history of Russia, from its official beginning in 862, its leader was wanted by international criminal court, nor was he indicted by a legal instrument of an international community. Not Ivan the Terrible, not Josef the Butcher Stalin, but this one, unremarkable as he was until he did not start the Mean War, got there, among quite telling company. 

When a leader is indicted, it casts a shadow at his country as such, per se, inevitably and objectively. And now people in Russia are living in the country led by the indicted suspect in crimes against humanity. This is the qualified change in how this country and its society, due to the policies and applied practices of its leadership is rated and perceived by the world since now on, on the record. Even if they would like it, they cannot do anything about it. And it is what oppresses them now heavily, with a good reason. 

There are also some other telling records set by the ICC warrant for Putin and his children’s ombudswoman. They have a dubious ‘honour’  to be the first Europeans among 50 indicted by the ICC ( Milosevich, Mladic and Karadzic were tried by the UN Special Tribunal on Yugoslavia which is a different legal entity from the ICC) . He is also the first head of a state among not only Europeans, but also Westerners and all others but Africans, so far, who deserved the warrant for the crimes against humanity. He is also the first acting head of the European ( geographically, at least, in a half-way) state who was indicted. 

The ICC in the Hague, International Criminal Court , has existed since 2002. During those twenty years, it has indicted 50 high-ranking personalities, with 30 of them tried. Among the rest twenty, six of those indicted are in the process of legal proceedings currently, with fourteen, including Putin and Belova-Lvova, having an official status in the ICC data-base as fugitive. Nice western movie though. 

Among those fifty indicted, the current acting president of Russia and his children’s ombudswoman are only Europeans. The rest are from predominantly African and some Asian countries. 

Apart from Vladimir Vladimirovich, the ICC records listed three more heads of state who were indicted by the Hague court: Muammar Qaddaffi, Sudanese butcher Omar Al Bashir, and Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo. The later one was, actually, acquitted by the court in Hague, after being detained there for years. Gaddafi met his horrific death on a raged street of Tripoli just four months after he was indicted by the ICC. Sudanese butcher, with whom president of Russia actually met, ceremonially and cordially,  in the Kremlin during the Al Bashir’s state visit to Russia as recently as in July 2018 , is serving now his short-term two years sentence at home, after which he will be extradited to the Hague for the trial there soon. 

So, instead of Palais Elysee, or at least his best pal Silvio’s house in Sardinia, from now on and for good, the Tsar faces quite limited itineraries, and clearly defined company. And personality-wise, he, being indefinitely far from a Napoleon-type, to be able to bear and withstand an exile, also metaphorical one, in a more or less decent way, would reach Kim Jong Un’s type of life with a cosmic speed. 

But this timely and fully deserved ICC warrant is not only about Russia’s leader.  It is about the state which has started unprovoked brutal aggression. It is about its military which conducts the Mean War with endless military crimes for over a year daily. It is about all those hideous crimes against humanity which are fully provable as at the ICC, as at any other court. It is about its legislation which certifies occupied territories of a neighbouring country and issues plenty of Stalin-like laws and regulations supporting the Mean War in all its aspects. It is about official Russian media which are fuelling lies, enforcing hatred and inciting the war and aggression daily and round o’clock. It is about the officialdom, the government, and many of its institutions who all help the Mean War happen.  

And, indirectly, but still, de-facto, it is about Russian current society, the larger part of it which either support the maniac and inhuman ideas willingly, or blindly, it does not matter in the context of such war, actually, and that other part which having rather normal potentials, including their mental abilities and certain financial independence, to live decently, preferred to live in what great American playwright Tennesee Williams called as ‘The Glass Menagerie” – in the artificial by making and concluded from their free choice, world in which there is no such thing as a fairness exist. 

Maybe, it does not – for them. 

But now, with the indictment of the Russian acting Tsar who started the Mean War by the International Criminal Court, it was certified for them that behind their totally corrupt wall of hatred, self-imposed arrogance, and inhumanity, there is fairness in the normal albeit not perfect world. The world which treats them now as they deserve, with making a point, in the warrant for their acting leader, of what we think he really is. 

One of my Ukrainian acquaintances has mentioned recently, in this signatory Ukrainian calmness: “As it happened, our Russian neighbours did not even hate us – they just came here to destroy our cities, to kill us, to kidnap our children, as doing their regular work. We did not hate anyone, we did not attack anyone. We did not wish any ill to anyone. And then they came, the neighbours. And you know what? Ukraine does not even hate them anymore. Hatred is too powerful an emotion. We did pass that stage already. What we experience towards them is  disgust and despise’. 

With this record, all those in Russia who are mongering the Mean War, will be stamped and go down in history. With completely reserved reasons for that. 

And I do not think that they would be happy about their boss who, with his and his clique’s trade-marked baseless arrogance and pathetic incompetence, did lead them all into that new role of Russia in the world. Russia’s long history of its moody society manipulated, due to varying circumstances, with astonishing easiness has quite illustrious proof of it. 

March 19, 2023

(C) Inna Rogatchi

‘The Nuremberg Had No Precedent, Too’

A YEAR OF THE MEAN WAR 

One February morning

On  February 16th, 2022, I published one of my artworks. I am producing many of them, and have a habit to publish at least one almost daily, as my friends know. The themes  vary, often depending on my exhibitions, projects and other cultural events, but as a rule, I try to publish the works which project hope and counterbalance the environment at a given moment, like sunny picture on a rainy day, and cool ones when a heath is around, to put it simply. 

But that particular day, on a February morning last year, I’ve published an atypical for my oeuvre picture. I love to work in black & white, but just because of it, I do it rarely, trying to avoid banality, existing images or expected solutions there.  

A year ago, on that February 16th morning, I published that black and white picture in a completely intuitive mode, without any clearly formulated thoughts, knowledge or understanding. I just felt like that.  

Inna Rogatchi (C). Monologue. February 2022.

Premonition, I know. We all have them. Just who would have thought that the life of all those millions of people, both in Ukraine and elsewhere for whom this Mean War means a personal pain, would turn into the black & white mode and that it would last  a  year by now, with all existing signs telling  that it would continue for a long time ahead. 

To me, this work looks like a sort of a map of emotional intelligence picturing what has happened: life was transformed to its opposite, interconnections ensuring normality of existence were severed, and a joy has disappeared altogether. All this was done by an evil impulse of brutal barbarians whose IQ is pathetic, to put it diplomatically. 

While the world paid an emphasised attention to the fact of a year anniversary of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, I am thinking that after February 24th, 2023, there will be 366th day of committed military crimes and crimes against humanity. The 366th and counting. 

Pinky Hats, Lost Eyes 

There are so many aspects of this war: military, energy, infrastructure, environment, medicine, culture, education,  not to mention a giant psychological trauma which is not going away as  a hangover, but stays for years, decades, or forever. 

But one aspect of the Russian crimes committed in real-time in front of the world is children. There too are many sub-aspects with children regard, apart from murdering them at maternity wards: making them orphaned, making them invalids, depriving them from food, warmth, water, medicine, depriving them from education, eradicating them from their homes. What,  children also have human rights, really? – morons in Russia in the position to decide on their destiny would be genuinely surprised. This is this kind of country. 

During that first year of their Mean War, all 365 days of it, from day one, they were kidnapping those children from the occupied territories of Ukraine. There are several serious dossiers about, official and thoroughly verified data in the special-task reports conducted by the UN, the UNICEF, the Yale University, not to speak about the grim task of the Children Ombudsman of Ukraine Office. 

We know some  figures now. At least  6 000 children were kidnapped by the Russian forces and forcibly moved to Russia. There are also conservative figures of 10 000, 14 000 and 16 000. The Ukraine Children Ombudsman Office cites ‘at least 20 000’. We know the places of the camps where those kidnapped children were held by the Russians, with names, regions and exact addresses, from Far East and Chechnya to the occupied Crimea and Moscow region, including central Russia and Karelia. 

The act of forced detention followed by forced repatriation qualified as a crime. It is a crime against humanity. As such, it has no statute of limitation. Committed during a war, this is also a military crime. Don’t they know that there is a country which massively and methodically kidnaps kids from their neighbours in the 21st century? Of course, they do. Do they care? They never did. 

What is going on with the kidnapped and thus intentionally, criminally orphaned  children from Ukraine in Russia today, is literally the same what was going on with the kids from Spain in the Stalin’s Soviet Union in 1937 when hundreds of the children were in the similar way kidnapped by the Soviet representatives in the midst of bloody Civil War in Spain which was to the large extent instigated by the Stalin’s script, and for their own benefits, including received ships with gold, as it is very well known to the historians and is fully documented. 

The Kremlin is sustainable in its traditions, as we know. They take special care of orphans. Hundreds of thousands of them who were orphaned during their cursed bolshevik revolution and  followed the Great Terror. It was done under Lenin, and Stalin, and now it is done again. As we watch it. 

The time around marking the first year of the war in Ukraine is commemorated in Russia too, naturally, in a series of  their typically uber-provincial staged mega-events. And what an utter shame it was. 

I am not going  to observe  many of those low boasts of barbarity in big and small, in so-called poetry, so-called music, so-called celebration – of what? Of barbarity, cruelty, and applied hatred  all around. The creatures belonging to that category do not deserve a second of public attention. They have extracted themselves off the sphere of a civilised world and decent peoplehood.  

But there was one episode in those disgusting celebrations of their Mean War in Russia which screams out for its blatant cynicism and criminal exploration of defenceless kidnapped children.

The humanoids scripted the celebrations  in Moscow forced  a dozen of children  kidnapped from Mariupol, on the stage of their moron feast of evil in their Luzhniki stadium, which was carried on under the open air in -15C which felt like -30C,  and made them to thank ‘the hero’ who according to the Moscow script ‘saved them’. The children were of different ages, from six to sixteen, girls and boys. They were forced on the stage. With cheery  smiles on the mugs of the adults who commanded them. Those poor children forgot what they had to say. One of the girls was heard saying “Oh, I forgot the lines”, and helplessly cried on that cold stage of that frozen stadium  filled with thousands of stupid young idiots brought there to support the inhuman regime of morally illiterate creatures.  

Here are the faces of those children from Mariupol who were used so cynically once again by the Kremlin, you have a look.  

Inna Rogatchi (C). Children from Mariupol. 2023.

I know GULAG first-hand, by my family story and many of my friends’ stories. I remember how my husband who was a child of an exiled family, who grew up in Karlag, the largest by size and most severe by condition part of GULAG, saw the open trucks moving those poor doomed Gulag prisoners, his father was one of them, in – 45C, as slaves, for their slave labour in the Soviet paradise. “The dogs, those dogs next to those poor people, it was a total chilling nightmare,” – Michael remembers all his life. And the open riffles. So close to the prisoners’ faces. And the hands that kept those rifles. And the men whose hands it were. Child’s memory is a powerful thing, as we all know. 

I know the Holocaust, also first-hand, also due to the family story, and many stories of the friends and relatives.  And I know it professionally, in detail, being immersed into that for over 30 years. 

I know the Laogai, the system of Chinese labour and other camps, also first-hand, from a dear friend, a hero, who has brought tons of chilling evidence of that horror to the West , and who paid with his life for that. 

And what I saw with regard to those thousands of kidnapped children from Ukraine is not far from these repressive machineries. To see it happening and thriving today is totally surreal. And absolutely abhorrent. 

I completely understand why president Zelensky is so concerned and, honestly, suffers over the destiny of those thousands of kidnapped children, all that year long.  

333-morons & ‘Russian-specific’ DNA

Everything we saw during the feast of evil in Moscow and Russia these cold February days  a year after the start of their criminal war  in the way of its celebration was simply disgusting. Lies upon lies, stupidity over stupidity, bragging over killing and more killing. I do not know which other nation that regards itself as belonging to a civilised humano-sphere  allows itself to be so brutally ecstatic practising their cult of force of cannibals  and enjoying it so much. Or to fake that joy so diligently. 

What other normal nation will perform publicly and will air nation-wide a crazy musical rap-chat that contain only phrase  moderating  ‘333’ in Russian words: ‘day-and-night 333’, ‘in-and-out 333’, ‘333 always’, ‘333 only, ‘we are the best in 333’, and so on. 

Do you know what ‘333’ is? It is a new Russian military jargon , meaning simply and banally ‘fire!’ command. It has started from their military exercise in Syria, and now it is used very widely by the Russian army in their Mean War in Ukraine. Why ‘333’?  – one might ask. Because they have decided that many ‘r’ letters present in that ‘trista-tridzat-tri’ in Russian wording are  like ‘lion-roar’, especially  if a commander would force that ‘r’ while shouting the command out, believe it or not. 

 How one can classify the statement by the other Russian soldier on the scene of that  cheap and  arrogant celebration of a year-long ongoing state-orchestrated murder in Ukraine who very proudly declared: “ There is an important proverb in my native Abkhazia ( another occupied territory by the ‘liberators’): “The earth which is not soaked in blood cannot be regarded as one’s motherland”.  It was met with a dutiful hysteric cheering from the audience. 

Or, as they boast in their new part of a patriotically enforced curriculum for the universities,  ‘As the Russians, we do have our own Russian-specific DNA’.  You bet, they are. They are demonstrating it daily. 

In their arrogant ignorance, they  do not even realise how genuinely deeply  racist they are.  Anyway, they do not care.  Neither should we to take their ‘specific’ DNA into any serious consideration, apart from realising adequately whom the world has to deal with. 

Incurable Empire, or  What’s Left of It – Lessons in History and Geography 

There is no wonder that from the mid-1950s onward and until early 1990s, the rest of the world badly needed scores of Sovetologists, the experts who could decipher and explain all those mysteries of the black cat in a dark room which the Soviet totalitarian system sealed off the outside world. 

After the collapse of Absurdistan, the world outside was so overwhelmed with relief that it was assumed that no expertise of this opened post-Soviet place was needed any longer. Some of them even spoke English , you know, so they would tell us things as they are, it was widely assumed. I am not joking. This is what I literally was told by one of the serious and experienced Westerners in a top decision-making position. 

I also remember one of my conversations with Lady Thatcher who was looking at me being seemingly puzzled when I mentioned that the post-Soviet Russia and its people ‘must be comprehend thoroughly’ before any further decision-making proceeded. “Mrs Rogatchi, – exclaimed the Baroness in her rather straightforward manner looking at me with a genuine surprise, – what do you mean: to comprehend?” – I was not shunned by the UK Prime-Minister’s slight rebook, and continued to look her straight in the eye, saying: “ Yes, dear Lady Thatcher, this is exactly what I am saying. One needs to comprehend them thoroughly before doing, planning, deciding, conducting anything with regard to them. Without it, nothing would succeed”. It was from that moment when the recently retired UK Prime Minister got really interested in our conversation, and we became good and understanding of each other’s friends for years ahead. 

By analysing the history of that country through objective data one comes to the conclusion which was formulated by my dear friend, the great Soviet dissident and outstanding figure in general,  late Vladimir Bukovsky very laconically: “This empire or what’s left of it is incurable. They simply cannot think, wish, or see in any other way than the vast majority of them do, especially the ruling elite. There should be no illusions with this regard”.  I cannot agree more.  

Just one sample, the fresh one: the speech of the Russian leader in his much anticipated address to the Federal Assembly of the country at the moment rounding the first year of their war against its neighbour. The speech lasted  one hour and 35 minutes. It was obviously difficult for that man to deliver it in an uplifting way. There was nothing to celebrate, and he and everyone in the huge hall knew it. So they all fell asleep, in a highly amusing show for which  poor TV cameramen now are punished, for having a pleasure to fix it and to show it to the world. In that hour and a half long-mumbling, he even spoke about ‘the necessity to clear out our old dumping places all over the country, and to do it efficiently and quickly, as soon as possible’. In the 21st century. In what they insist to be a super-power. The boss urges them in his annual address to the nation in the midst of war to clean their old dumping places.  Hilarious is not a word. I can only imagine a roaring laugh at many serious capitals, especially, say, in the Forbidden City area. With a good reason.  

And what assembly it was,  from a view of physiognomist specialists,  hundreds of people, many of whom looked like real-life personages of Bertolt Brecht’s grossly exaggerated fictional characters – desperate, ugly and pathetic at the same time. 

That ugly feast of mediocre characters  was not amusing, not for a bit. One of my historian colleagues from Germany did compare the texts of two speeches, the one mumbled by the tired and visibly disappointed ( his Sarmat latest missile’s test with which he meant to send the signal to the president Biden and president Zelensky who were walking together at that very moment in the centre of Kiyv, failed spectacularly a day before his national address ) boss of Russia on February 22nd, 2023 in Moscow, with another speech of the upset leader who also frantically believed in his own delusional version of history,  and who was very upset by the ‘hostile West’, in that case exemplified in the Versaille Treaty. That other speech was delivered on September 1st, 1939, at the extraordinary plenary session of Reichstag. The speech is part of the Yale University Law School Avalon Project, and it is easily retrievable on the net. Anyone can read both speeches and compare them. Highly recommended. The comparison is stunning. 

But what really is incredible, and what is highly important to understand here is that by no means did the people who have prepared and have written that speech for the current leader of Russia did not mean to repeat or to borrow anything from Adolf’s too well-known address breaking the Second World War into the world. The last thing they wanted was any comparison like that, or any thought in that direction.  It is also well-known that the boss always reads the prepared speeches for him and gives them his final personal editing, leaving off or adding things, he does not read it from the script without approving it in his own way. Nobody from them did not borrow a thing from a scandalous and extremely well known document of the speech with which Hitler justified the Nazi Germany’s actions and plunged the world into the horror of  the Second World War.

The thing is that they, those who prepare the speech, those who wrote the draft of it, those who edit it, those who inspire its ‘historical’ review part, and that one who delivered it, after his own considerations, contributions and overview, do think this way genuinely. And this is a horrific and very sobering outcome. As objective, as it gets. 

Geography always dictated the strategic and any thinking of the leaders of that huge country, as it did indeed for the other mighty empires, with one difference – all those mighty empires came and went, but one. The people who are leading this last one in its modern half-gone and seriously malfunctioned mode, do not allow themselves for a second to assume that the way of imperial form of state includes in itself an empire’s collapse, inevitably. They just refuse to think this way, a priori. 

So far, it was the problem for most of their many neighbours, and it still is. But there will be a day when it will become a problem for them themselves. The problem with the leaders in that part of the globe is that they traditionally refuse to see things as they are instead seeing them, almost genuinely, as they would like them to be. That’s why the last Russian Emperor and his circle of decision-makers lost their country to the blood-thirsty Bolshevik savages, to the savages’ complete surprise. A century on, the last Russian Tsar’s  infamous ‘influencer’ Rasputin, as if had his re-incarnation in the face of the obscure professional hater who calls himself a philosopher and preaches today, in a way very close to how Rasputin did  it a century ago.  

It was for the same reason that Stalin was only so  trying and so happy to court Adolf for years in all and every way,  from military to agriculture, before getting into the full-scale partnership with him in 1939, to bring his own country to the brink of existence just in eighteen months after the happy hugs in Moscow  and joint crimes in Poland. 

It was despite Stalin, not because of Stalin that the Soviet people prevailed over the Nazis. They were fighting for their life, their families, their homes, they were invaded and about to be destroyed brutally. My husband’s step-father, Jewish boy from Belarus, alone with three of his friends, all aged 16, attacked the small labour camp in Oshmjany, surprised the German guards there, overcoming them in a severe hand-fight, and liberated the prisoners, including his mom. They were fighting on their own, as it happened.  

It was for the same reason, in the memory of our generation, the fiasco in Afghanistan has happened, which went for almost a decade, claimed so many lives, practising cruel razing down a half of a country which had nothing to do with the USSR, and resulting in what? We all see it in front of us for decades by now. 

 I am positive that before the Russian society at all its levels, starting from the  school, will receive the truth about the Second World War in all of its aspects and detail, this country will be doomed. The same goes for all the truth regarding the revolution and post-revolution and GULAG before and after the Second World War. One cannot build anything stable, let alone decent, on lies and lacunas of withdrawn knowledge which has accumulated for a century by now.  There is one thing: a personal knowledge of an individual, and another thing is a publicly recognised knowledge on what had happened in one’s country. 

The official version of history in USSR and post-USSR was always outcry false, with  two breaks,  both of eight years each,  in between 1956 and 1964, some while after Stalin’s death, and  in between 1992 and 2000, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But those two breaks happened to be not thorough ones, and the truth went out fragmentary. Now, the revision of Russian history in a whole is applied feverishly there, upon the Kremlin demand, on many levels and in many ways. The result of the spread in their country this ‘new historical narrative’ of Russia injected with its ‘Russian-specific’ DNA, will be worse than Homo Soveticus formed by the communist totalitarian regime in the USSR.

Geography still commands the thinking of the decision-makers in that violent and dangerous country. One had to look on the map a year ago, in February 2022, to realise that the goal of the Russian unprovoked aggression against Ukraine is to establish the  control over both Sea of Azov and Black Seas, and that meants a half of the Ukrainian territory. Fortunately, and thanks to everyone helping to Ukrainians to withstand the aggression heroically, they did not achieve their goal in full after a year of devastating aggression . 

But one has to realise that those people, their leadership in the first place, just cannot lose. They are stubborn and will not be ordered by reason. That’s why today, a year since the beginning of the Mean War, one has to look on the map again to realise that the possible new directions of the Russian military offensive might come both from the territory of Belarus which is the official part of the official union of the two states, and also from Pridnestrovie ( Transistria) region in Moldova. Just look at the map – and do provide Zelensky with as much military aid as possible. Now. 

‘Nuremberg Had No precedent, Too’

When one plunges into the Holocaust crimes as I did, being busy with the theme for over 30 years, one must train oneself to control one’s emotions, in order not only to be able to work productively with this kind of material: to process it, to go through that, to analyse it, but just to bear on. Every Holocaust historian knows it, it is a precondition for this occupation. That’s what Elie Wiesel had in mind when he said that ‘his own character prevented him from becoming a Nazi-hunter’. And we know it from Elie’s books. 

I worked and was friendly with Simon Wiesenthal very closely for years, and remember how he told me about the episode in which he, very recent prisoner of Mauthausen ( and before that, several other camps), who lost his entire family in the Shoah, and who was helping the US Army in Austria immediately after the end of the Second World War, went with them to arrest one of the senior Nazi officers who was identified.  ‘ When we came to that house, two of us, an American officer and I, I just could not force myself to touch the door handle of that house. I just could not. After some time, an American soldier who was with me, did it instead of me. Then, having that senior Nazi arrested, and I knew what he did, we transported him to the prison. He was put in the car, in handcuffs. I sat next to him, guarding him, with the American in the cabin, driving the car. I could kill that Nazi with my bare hands’ ‘ – Wiesenthal told me not in a way of a distant recollection, but in a way of living the episode through again, in a full emotion, fifty years after it had a place. Fifty years. 

It was always like that regarding some episodes of his extraordinary life, with those particular moments staying within him emotionally intact, does not matter how many years passed. Some of them can be seen in my film The Lessons of Survival which is a series of our conversations with Simon Wiesenthal. 

He did not kill that Nazi in Linz in 1945 although he was remembering that episode all his life. “Why?” – I asked, not as a journalist, but as a fellow Jew. “Because this car was bringing him to justice” – answered Simon to me looking at me emphatically, and added, customarily: “( Do) you understand? ” It was important for him that people would really understand what he had to say to them. 

Many, many times in our conversations during the years, this matter resurfaced. He formulated it famously: “Justice, not vengeance”. We talked a lot about it. He was adamant on that principle. ‘Yes, one could kill a lot of the Nazis after the war ( and it was done, as we know – IR). But it was absolutely clear to me, maybe not from the very beginning, understandably, but I did come to that conclusion and that principle that those criminals should be not only killed in a revenge, absolutely justified revenge, but still. They should be brought to justice. There should be a trial. The trials. Hundreds of trials. Not ‘as many as possible’, but as many as the crimes and their perpetrators require. In a given case of a concrete person who committed a war crime, the crime against humanity, his crimes should be brought to trial, publicly, with the evidence. That’s why I and my people, tens of them, during so many years, collected this evidence,  every bit of it, at every place possible and impossible, as you know. This evidence must be not only registered by and for juridical officials. This evidence must become public knowledge – in the process of public trial. So the people would know. And then, in the process of a trial and as a result of it, the war criminals should be convicted. Their punishment must go through and become a result of the judicial process. Then it would become our all’ insurance against future crimes”,Simon Wiesenthal told me in the mid-1990s. He believed in this as firmly, as it is humanly possible. It was one of his most essential convictions throughout his long and far from easy life. 

He had a perfect point. 

I am deeply convinced that if the crimes and the criminals of the Great War were convicted in the series of public trials, the chances of the Second World War would be diminished very seriously. 

Between the two devastating wars of the 20th century, there was a very short, time-wise,  distance, only 20 years, less than one generation. It is like between now and the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.  Just think about it. The outcome of the First World War, the Great War, was absolutely devastating – and just 20 years after that full-scale horror the world gets itself into the similar , but yet worse carnage again, started by the same player, after several years of the worst pogroms, racial laws, first concentration camps in their own country while the world tried to appease the beast to their very best. How come? 

Because of the military crimes of Germany in the Great War, its crimes against humanity – such as the attack in Yupre, the first major attack with a lethal chemical weapon in history, the crimes of the late-period Second Reich’ decision makers   were left unpunished juridically. 

There was no independent, nor international tribunal. Instead, it was a mockery process in Germany itself, acquitting, expectedly,  99% of the German military personnel brought to that so-called trial. None of the politicians was ever taken responsible. That’s why the Versaille Treaty was regarded as ‘oh-so-humiliating’ and ‘oh-such-an-injustice’  in Germany.  That’s why the vermin of Nazism developed in such a suitable environment. 

If the German army’s horrendous crime in Yupre would be convicted publicly and internationally, with all coming legal consequences, the producing and use, most importantly, of Zyklon-B might be far more problematic and questionable. I am absolutely sure about it. 

The failure of the world community to bring the Second Reich, their leaders, their decision-makers and their military to justice resulted directly in emboldening the Nazis in their gruesome crimes against humanity. 

There is nothing new in this world, not in the 20th, nor in the 21st century, nor, as it happened, from the time of King Solomon, in the mid-900s BCE, when the phrase was coined. Crime must be punished. Responsible people must be taken responsible. Otherwise, the society would plunge into cannibalism, both literally and metaphorically. 

From day one of the Mean War, the matter of justice became a front-line of it. A colossal amount of work is done during all the time of the first year of this Mean War by many professionals in the international effort to make the special tribunal on the crimes in Ukraine viable and efficient. After all, ‘ After all, the Nuremberg had no precedent, too’ , – as one of the top international lawyers has mentioned to me recently. Indeed. 

We owe it to the victims of the Mean War, both military and civilian ones. To their families. To orphaned kids whose only dream and only purpose in life now is to be able ‘to erect a good, very good gravestone to mama’. To the parents who saw their ten-year old daughter headless. To the country where a vast part of a territory, including entire cities, are ruined to the ground. To the boy from Dnipro in this photo, and multitude of boys and girls like him. 

A boy from the city of Dnipro. (C) IR. 2023.

And, actually, to us ourselves. Those of us who value life and light, in defiance  of bullying mediocre losers who might cause a lot of incurable damage on their hysterical march to the abyss. 

Year 2022: Ukrainian Perspective. Beyond the Rubicon

 Analyses of the ten months of the Mean War.

By Inna Rogatchi ©

The essence of this unimaginable, ongoing for ten months, almost a year, unprovoked aggression of Russia against Ukraine, the aggression conducted in the most cruel way is that the crimes against humanity are accepted as a norm by the decision-makers, military, and a vast part of the society of the country for which GULAG is a norm. Period. 

Screaming , catastrophic moral defeat of Russia in the Mean War is a graphic illustration of what happens when a daft second-class tyranny is trying to assert their non-existing rights by cruelty and barbarity. 

Beyond the Rubicon: the Mean War, started in 2022 and commanded our lives for almost all of the year, has made its victim Ukraine strong and compassionate, while its originator, aggressor Russia, a despicable arrogant loser. In generations to come. 

Inna Rogatchi ©. The Birth of Storm. Blue & Yellow collection. 2022. 

Pictures in the Freezing Darkness

It is easy to understand – because it is easy to feel. Anyone  who yet needs to be convinced in literal, physical terms is welcome to conduct a rapid test of living in darkness in the winter: switch off your electricity, heating, water supply, do not use your WC. Then try to cook something using any other way than electric supply. Let us know how long you would sustain the test for surviving in a freezing darkness with enough psychological and physiological comfort to feel normal. 

Ukraine from space. Picture taken by NASA. December 2022. Courtesy © NASA. 

Specialists in experimental physiology have established a long time ago that a human being starts to feel a serious discomfort exactly after one minute in darkness – this is without freezing.  With the addition of a cold, it is most likely 30 seconds. Varlam Shalamov, the most honest writer who experienced  GULAG for a full 17 years, stated out of his own and thousands of his co-prisoners’ experience that freezing is worse than hunger. Human beings just do not survive it. The thugs who run that massive country of ill-everything in generations, know a lot of things about GULAG. The legacy of GULAG regarding everything, from massive meanness in total informing to methodical annihilation of millions human beings in a horrendous spectrum of methods, is still present widely in that country, even due to objective chronological reasons. 

This legacy is a core part of the foundations of thinking for both the decision-makers in current Russia and those who carry their orders in the Mean War. There is nothing good in the Gulag legacy, not a bit, not a crumb. It is only bottomless cruelty, meanness, and viciousness. Recently, the American reporter based in Kyiv, with rounded eyes of a good person who got into perpetual trouble, informed his watchers that “You know, people here call Russians ‘animals’. Only that’. The reporter was both impressed and surprised, and he was a bit emotional reporting on his discovery. He is  young and he was not used to anything like that. But anyone with an experience of life in that country is not surprised by this just qualification. Our families lived through GULAG, very many of us literally so. We do know about the capacities of the representatives of that country to freeze people to death first-hand. They have a rich experience of it. Now again, as we all saw and are seeing it, they have no trouble whatsoever to repeat it. It is normal for them – and here is the root of the problem with the Mean War. And with this country.

Very conservative UN data on civilian casualties in the Mean War. UN ©

The essence of this unimaginable ongoing for ten months, almost a year, unprovoked aggression of Russia against Ukraine, the aggression conducted in the most cruel way is that the crimes against humanity are accepted as a norm by the decision-makers, military, and a vast part of the society of the country for which GULAG is a norm. Period. 

So we all are seeing futuristic pictures of darkened Ukrainian cities. It evokes a futuristic impression because it is vast and really is not quite imaginable in real life, only in sci-fi catastrophe blockbusters.  But in the year 2022, it became  real. People are there, in that total darkness. Children. Elderly. Sick. Just born ones. Dying ones. Pregnant women. Breast-feeding women. Frightened kids. Pensioners. Teachers who are teaching the kids online from the street, during a day-light, in the winter.  I saw it with my own eyes. Doctors who are still operating in pitch-dark operation rooms. These photos made head-lines internationally. 

Concert in Kyiv during the black-out. November 2022. Courtesy © Kyiv Philharmonic.

Millions of people who are violently deprived of basic human rights for life, health, food and warmth with no reason whatsoever, in a massive ongoing  crime against humanity regarding the civil population, tolerated in the centre of Europe. Again. 

There are two levels of inhumanity applied by their vicious neighbours in the intentionally frozen and black-out Ukraine, macro and micro ones.  At macro level, the targeted ruining of the Ukrainian infrastructure hits villages, towns, cities, small and big ones, aiming to make the country dysfunctional, and yet more importantly from the point of view of geniuses in the Russian Highest Command, to break Ukrainian people psychologically. They will never succeed. Because of one simple reason: they always , organically, think  and act in a mirror-image way. This is a core characteristic of their psyche, both collective and individual. This mirror-image thinking extrapolates their own understanding, beliefs, fears, delights, attitude to life onto their opponents, targets, and basically, anyone else. Such a motto is based solidly on their absolute inability to respect others. As a matter of principle. As a way of life. 

That’s why they are losing spectacularly, albeit causing awful damage and inflicting horrendous misfortunes. That’s why they are prone to lose, militarily, politically, and in public opinion world-wide. 

Doctors in Ukraine operating during the black-out. November 2022. Courtesy © Ukraine Press Agency.

Stalin underestimated Finns and Finland. Brezhnev underestimated Afghans and Americans. Putin underestimated Ukraine and the people of Ukraine. In order not to underestimate, one has to be able to estimate, even if for strategic reasons. But in the country where all professional high military command has been executed summarily before and after the Second World War, the military science, as well as their spectacularly  dummy ideology  is based  on that one and only tool they are practising in and out  in life, that ‘mirror-image’ -everything. They are doomed, if just because of that dead-end way of thinking, in big and small alike.  

And then, there is a micro-level of the impact of the Russian methodical attack on the energy infrastructure of Ukraine in the winter specifically, an individual level. Speaking with close friends in Ukraine, people who have been part of our family for three generations, we’ve been getting into this kind of a dialogue: “ Is not it not too late? Aren’t you resting already? -I’m asked late in the evening. – “ No-no, – I rush with an assuring response, –  we are watching the football ( the recent World Cup  game it was ).   – ‘Lucky you’ – says my friend simply, with no-fuss, and my heart sanks again, as it does every time we are speaking with them, which is a few times a week, and once again, as every single time in those conversation, I am biting my tongue , too late as it goes, for inadvertently reminding to our stoic friends who are heroically and calmly sustaining their big family, of a normality of life which they do not know for good ten months by now. 

They are living without electricity and everything depending on it for 12 hours daily, for a long time by now. And this is not yet the worst situation in Ukraine, as we know. But this rhythm of depravity is devastating. And there are millions of human beings who have been put under these inhuman trials by the Kremlin thugs and all those who are acting in the Russian war-machinery. 

I am thinking about our friends, the family of four generations, daily, permanently. As I am thinking about so many other people whom we know in Ukraine personally, hundreds of them, each individually, with their families and friends whom we know too. Friends, acquaintances, friends of friends. Colleagues, old and new ones. I am thinking about the families of our numerous friends who are from Ukraine. It is a small army of such families. Wonderful, talented, soulful people whose children and grandchildren are in a non-stop ten-month torment all over the world, including Russia. The torment which would never end, actually.

Small girl was brought to a car service to be connected to electricity vital for her breathing. Kyiv. November 2022. © Courtesy Kyiv Press, Ukraine.

I am thinking about many other people in Ukraine, whom we do not know personally, people who are attacked and ambushed in the most cruel way – and who sustain and hold on. I am thinking about all those people whom we are helping in the different places of Ukraine, with new ones added all the time, to the best we can from the day one of the Mean War, and will do it as long as they need it. 

I am proud and deeply touched that the country of my and my husband’s families, the country in which I was born and raised, resists evil so determinedly, with such resilience, ability, understanding, calmness, rationality and – class. There is something in Ukrainians’ determination to defend themselves and to prevail against evil that Russians are missing utterly. And that’s why they are doomed, too.  It is a truism that a military victory starts from the hearts which refuse to faint, but it is unique to observe it in a real-time battle against darkness, the battle which is so close to us, literally too. 

Zelensky’s Formula of Dignity

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the White House and the US Congress at the end of December 2022 has become one of the mightiest highlights of the ten-month saga of Ukraine standing  off to evil. 

Yes, the visit was very well, precisely, planned. Yes, it was very well, clean-cut, executed. Yes, it resulted in powerful aid needed badly by the country under merciless and very long attacks. 

But what was the best part of the brave Ukrainian leader’s visit? The evocation of the best in so many people. Humanity which was shining in his hosts, and in all those who celebrated that exceptional deed. This visit made us better. More humane, warmer, more understanding, more appreciative  – and more determined. 

Hosting president Zelensky who flew all the way to Washington D.C. straight from a extremely dangerous front-line in Bakhmut, being with him, attending his address to the US Congress, following it all from the TV screens all over the world, made all of us better, made all of us who support Ukraine, more assured in righteousness of our own position and deeds, made all of us belonging to the right side. And belonging to the right side  at the pivotal moments of history is the backbone both in an individual life, and also in the course of civilization. 

I personally would be ever grateful to the US President Biden for evoking the Chanukah theme in his speech at the two presidents’ press-conference at the White House, which happened on the fourth day of the Jewish Feast of Light. It was done delicately, not intrusively, gently, and laconic, but right to the point. Yes, indeed, as, according to the postulate of Judaism,  there are 36 righteous people in every generation, there are also the Maccabeans in every generation. The existence of 36 righteous people who could happen to be in completely different parts of the world is the main condition of the world’s existence in every generation, according to Judaism’s core concept. This means that those 36 righteous individuals ( with some of them could easily not be aware of such status of their personas) provides the quantity of morality necessary to maintain the course of life in every given  generation.  

It is the same with those people in various generations throughout human history who have the level of bravery and determination which is comparable with the Maccabeans’ level. Those people in every generation are providing that critical level of determination and resilience which is required, in a balance between good and evil, for good to prevail. 

President Zelensky is definitely one of those present-day Maccabeans. He leads his country and symbolises his  nation which fights so bravely and so determinedly. 

President Biden’s fine overtone regarding Canukkah in his speech greeting president Zelensky at the White House was absolutely spot-on, and thus it will go down to history as one of his personal and the US foreign policy’s finest moments. 

When president Zelensky in his simple, short and sincere speech at the US Congress came towards the end of it, he changed. During the previous 25 minutes, he did put a lot of effort to keep on the taken mode, being interrupted 17 times by standing ovation from the Congress, practically after each next phrase of his. Then the audience understood that the speech was over and was about to erupt for a prolonged ovation. But Volodymyr Zelensky wanted to finish. He insisted.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addressing the US Congress. December 21, 2022. © IR. 

The finish was a standard for the US podiums “God Bless the United States of America” and some other important for the president’s blessings over his people and his country. But this time and in his case, there was nothing standard for the president of Ukraine. Zelensky meant it. He meant it in the way a very few people do it nowadays. Some due to the long experience, some due to a certain-degree of routine. But president Zelensky does  not belong to those groups. His blessings were full of real feelings. I understand him. With the history of his country’s 10-month incredible struggle against that ruthless mammoth of dark forces, one is compelled to thank G-d genuinely for all the support He provided to Ukraine and its incredible President. 

President Zelensky, after being confided in his enforced office back home for ten months, with exception of his very brave and always meaningful and timely regular visits to the most crucial places of the battles, is the leader whose life is in a very high danger, day and night, continuously. Still, he went all that very long way to Washington D.C. to demonstrate to the world, not just to the US, that ‘Ukraine is alive and kicking’, in his words. 

In his precisely thought of, crystal-clear formulated address, he made a very good point about the principal necessity ‘to defeat the Kremlin in the minds of Russian people’.  I do agree with president Zelensky. It seems that this very aspect of the Mean War which is threatening to expand beyond Ukraine’s border, G-d forbid, the mental disposition of a vast majority of the 145-million aggressor-country, may be underestimated.  But Zelensky and his people see and understand it very well. 

During that historical visit, at his press-conference at the White House, Volodymyr Zelensky was also speaking about children. This is not the first time that he does it. Being remarkably in control of himself for all this time, he is always  getting quite emotional in respect of children. Actually, the theme of children is the only theme which overwhelms this very brave man.  Because he cares. Because he is a good person. Because this theme has not let him sleep for ten months by now. 

Following president Zelensky’s handling of the situation in a tragic for his country’s circumstances for the ten months of the Mean War daily,  and observing his historical visit to the US capital in December 2022 in detail, I elaborated the Zelensky Formula of Dignity : Humanity, Courage, and Determination. In this order. It all  results in the Strength the world is admiring him for. 

No wonder that some of the good people from Russia who were following the Zelensky’s visit to the US, said publicly: “What a pity that he is not our president!”  Their reaction is only natural. But the quantity of the people in and from Russia who are thinking this way is far from reaching the critically sufficient level required for a healthy society. And this is a fundamental problem of that country.  

Engineering of Evil: Russian Society Today and Tomorrow

The transformation of the Russian society during and due their Mean War is the subject of its own, so vast it is. And so rich in new material, so to say, with daily additions of unbelievable new phenomena, events, news, development appearing there daily. I’ve spent enough time on that during the first six months of the Mean War when I was daily, weekly and monthly occupied with nothing else but this ugly transformation. Some of my analyses  can be found at my Mean War 2022 project

When self-destructive change within that society happened, I concentrated more on  the various art & culture charitable projects related to providing relief to Ukraine and its people, including my Abstract Visions In Blue & Yellow Special Charitable Art Collection, a special international project. 

Still, the speedily accelerated moral plunge of society in Russia to unfathomable lows is an extremely disturbing aspect of their war against Ukraine.  To me, it is a formatting aspect of that society today, and most likely, tomorrow. The factor which not only formats the views and behaviour of people from it today, but which most certainly will lay the  ground for the formatting of the views, convictions, outlook of the world, behaviour and choices of the next generations of Russians. It does not promise anything good there. To the contrary. 

Importantly, this dangerous process is unfolding while many best people of Russia have been arrested and put behind bars for very long terms of imprisonment in simply phantasmagorical cases, very much reminiscent of the 1930s, with their unbelievable accusations of the people who the Stalin regime was whipping off.  

I am getting the news about a very rapid deterioration of Russian society daily, and it would be abusive for my readers to bother them with all of it. So I picked up here the things which did affect me the most, so far. 

Now, towards the end of an year, they are thriving in Russia with many regular and new award ceremonies, with most decent of them being cancelled, expectedly. But one of them was shocking. It was the feast of knowledge, the annual , for the second year introduced award for the best educational projects. It was held in Moscow. 

Many of my friends from Russia, mostly emigrated ones, were looking at those photos from the ceremony, as I was, in total disbelief. We were seeing in front of us the scene from the Cabaret movie, with glitzing uber decorum of Berlin in 1935, with giant Z symbols all over the huge stage, trying to come to terms that it is not a movie, but reality in front of us. The atmosphere at the ceremony was in complete accord with that bombastically Berlin-1935 decorum, with the same intonations, same proclamations, same attitude. Only the language was different. But it was the only difference. 

Russian Educational Annual Award ceremony. Moscow. December 2022. © Internet Free Library. 

It is not only that  frightening ‘package’ of the event that impressed us all heavily, but the meaning of it. On that cold, frightening, completely totalitarian Z-spirited stage in Moscow, in December 2022, they were awarding people for ‘the best educational projects’. This kind of Z-education. This kind of Z-atmosphere. This kind of Z-standard in Moscow nowadays. This kind of Z-signal for at least the near future of that country from its capital. This is what they are funding now, Z-style, Z-understanding, Z-approach, Z-life. What could be more frightening? I do not know. I still am under the massive impression, I still am struggling to believe that it was Moscow in 2022, not Berlin in 1935.

I do not think that I would ever forget it. Because we know in all chilling detail how it did develop in Berlin after 1935. They know about it in Russia as well. But they opted for their Z-enlightenment, so to say. Nobody forced them to do it. But from now on, they are forcing their youngsters to live accordingly.  

And in this context, there should be no surprise that the monument to Stalin appeared in the large Russian city of Naberezhnye Chelny, on Volga, in mid-Russia, not just anywhere there, but in the school yard. The monument is done in the way that nice chap Stalin in his french is sitting on the bench, half of which is empty and inviting a passerby to sit next to the dedushka. The passersby there  are predominantly children from a nearby school. How very thoughtful of those who planned and executed the great idea. This is once again about that GULAG legacy in Russia today. 

Recently erected a monument to Stalin in the school yard, Naberezhnye Chelny. Russia. Winter 2022. Internet Free Library ©. 

Another shocking reality for me in present-day Russia are multiple scenes in its leading bookstores. They have a maniacal practice of declaring the next portion of ‘foreign agents’, a new form of ‘the enemy of the people’ weekly, on Fridays. There is a certain official in charge with it there, in the rank of a deputy minister of justice, of course. He is very diligent, and fully following the terrible legacy of the Stalin’s chief prosecutor Vyshinsky who sent for death millions of innocent people, many of them, cynically and openly  by ‘indications’, as he used to say, this present-day official stamps his Friday lists of Russia’s new ‘enemies of people’, ‘foreign agents’ who might be ‘under the wrong influence’ , this is an official classification, with a phantasmagorical  efficiency. Many of those ‘foreign agents’ are writers and journalists, as current Russian officialdom energetically ‘clears’ their Z-house of any ‘wrong influence’. 

So, in the bookstores in the down-town Moscow, people are seeing the shelves filled with strangely looking subjects. Those are ugly looking maps made from a dark-brown cardboard. Full shelves of such ugly maps. From the shelves, one sees nothing, rows of low quality dark maps. If one gets close and takes some of the maps in hand, one sees on a map’s front an ugly produced and written on stickers with the surname of the writer, the title of his book inside the map, and the price. Plus a huge sign “ THE FOREIGN AGENT” on the sticker. 

Scene from a central bookstore in Moscow. Winter 2022. Internet Free Library ©

In some other big and once good bookstores, they did not bother with those maps. They just put the books into a black garbage packages. For real. 

Scene from a bookstore in Moscow. Winter 2022. Internet Free Library ©

There are no such scenes in the Cabaret, or any other films of the period of the mid 1930s to mid 1940s, so I do not know what these reality scenes can be compared with and referred to.  In Germany and Germany occupied countries, the books of ‘the wrong’ authors were simply burned. It takes a lot of strength to share with my readers that practically all of my intellectual friends who are the same shocked as I am by these new Z-landscapes in once thriving and rich bookstores in Russia are expecting the fires soon. It is beyond my imagination. 

Those people are not far from reality, actually. Recently, there has been produced a three-page list of 52 books to be ‘eliminated and destroyed’ as it is prescribed by the order from just one library in Russia. The purge started in the wake of a recently adopted law on the new policies against ‘the gay propaganda’ as they call it. Among those books which were regarded now as ‘wrong ones’ in pioneering the purge library, there are some novels of foreign writers, but there are also two volumes of the  lectures on sexology by the legendary professor Igor Kon, the giant of Soviet psychology and sociology. I studied his books and lectures. In the USSR.  He was permitted there. Not anymore. Professor Kon has been dead for more than ten years by now. In the widely-spread sad motto of the day, I am soberly relieved of this fact, in front of this ongoing bacchanalia of sheer idiocy. 

How one eliminates ‘ wrong’ books? “ – one of my friends, a professor of literature asked, rhetorically. – ‘We all know the answer. And expecting fires any time soon’. I am trying to wake up from this nightmare repeatedly, only to remind myself that it is reality, the fact which my innermost self refuses to accept. Just like Remarque, Thomas Mann, Arnold Zweig and so many other intellectuals and writers were doing 90 years, almost a century ago. 

The similarity of this desperate phenomenon , the utter feeling of disbelief, the discord between all this way that the civilisation has come through during the last century and which is all but almost nullified in the centre of Europe is a heavy toll. Daily, minute-wise. All the time. 

Very similar situation to the world of Russian education projects and their book-market is everywhere in intellectual and social spheres there, concerning the most important sectors of culture, arts, education, intellectual development, science, performing arts, theatre, cinema, television,  music, museums and galleries, everything which forms a human being and influences him or her. Today,  censorship with a big C has been introduced in a Bolshevik way,  robustly, stupidly and arrogantly. There is an ongoing daily process of cleansing with a big C. There is thriving madly Cancelling with a big C. All that – in the shadow of Z. 

In the establishments of performing arts, only permitted figures are allowed. Permitted are those who supported the Mean War publicly, or who at least behaved and are silent. I know many cases when our  acquaintances, great Russian musicians with huge audiences,  were cancelled without any explanation on the eve of their planned concerts. I know very many cases when the entire program of many leading performance arts establishments has been cleansed off for the same reason all over Russia. 

The theatre which is close to us and which we know well, having so many friends and colleagues there is under the similar attack. A macabre-like phenomenon has been spread widely all over Russian theatre –  the names of ‘a wrong’ directors and set-designers have been simply whipped off the performances’ posters and programs in a massive demonstration of Berlin in the 1930s-like attack on humanity in the present Russia. So you are going to the theatre – and they do keep some performances for a while – and are seeing the poster and have in front of you a program in which it is printed, for example: ‘ A.P. Tsehov, Cherry Garden. Director – [nobody], an empty space, the rest of those who created the performance are all mentioned.  This has been happening all over the country for a while now.

And it accelerates. At the end of December, the one of the best and most important theatres in Siberia had to purge both its international star director and his father who led the theatre for the past quarter of a century  and made it world renowned – without a word of an explanation. Because there is none of a reasonable explanation except that those father and son are not welcome in their fatherland any longer. Gone, with no wind. Cancelled. A couple of days after it, the director of the most internationally famous theatre in Moscow who worked there for more than a decade, was informed, in the same, without reasoning, manner,  that her contract was terminated. Cancellations are running in a snowball motion all over culture institutions in Russia. 

Before this, many most talented theatrical directors , especially from the Moscow theatres either left on their own in an articulated disagreement and unwillingness to be associated with Russia any longer, or were made to go. ‘What will happen with our theatre?’ – professionals are exclaiming in quiet despair. Quiet is a key-word here. Despair has become a routine by now among the people with conscience in or from Russia.  

The situation in Russian cinema is quite similar. Both cinema and TV in Russia always were regarded as an important ideological tool, so the current plague of blatant Z-censorship applies to cleansing festivals, premieres, all possible events where ‘the wrong’ directors and actors might appear, with planning only permitted ones for anything new. Permitted plots, permitted interpretations, permitted actors and directors. 

The ideological watch-out in present-day Russia gets to a ridiculous degree: in many schools, teachers have been ordered to check personally the lists of music to be performed at the classes’ New Year disco parties. To help the task, the teachers were given a prepared list with ‘un-recommended’ musicians. Those lists are long ones, I saw them. ‘Un-recommended’ are those popular musicians, rappers including, who did not support the Mean War in any way: emigrated, criticised it publicly, or refused to take part in a North-Korean style public hysterical shows of support of Z-War. All of them, no matter how popular they were or still are in their country, are black-listed now, up to the discos at the school parties, not to speak the radio, TV, concerts, etc. 

The same situation is all over the visual arts in Russia, especially in the state museums. There has been a special committee created which is ‘watching over’ their activities, exhibitions, plans, and cooperation in order to keep it ‘correct’, according to the state-lines.  The pressure over the people working in the state-funded cultural establishments there is 24/7. Very recently I was talking with a person in one of these positions who did tell me that they are  carefully watching out not only the products of their activities, but literally every word pronounced or published on social media in their personal capacity as well.  “ People can lose their job, or even worse, over just one phrase formulated without precautions”, – he told me. – “We are living in an ongoing nightmare, exactly as people did in 1937’. 

In the Soviet Union, there were the KGB staffers working at all big post-offices. Their job was to open every single letter coming to the USSR from and to abroad carefully, over a steam, to keep the envelope as if intact,  to read it, to examine the letter physically, as well,   if there would not be any secretly passed information in imaginable different forms of microchips or alike, and if the letter is harmless from the KGB point of view, to seal it back and to send it forward to the recipient. 

Now the same giant, and utterly senseless job, but in a far large volume, is done by myriads of Russian officials who are tasked to check everything on social media with finding ‘wrong’ views, ‘wrong’ phrases, ‘wrong’ statements, just anything which in the minds of their primitive masters indicate disagreement and critique of the Z-world and its regime. As arrogant as they like to look, the Russian officialdom once again champions nonsense, to put it diplomatically.  

The same processes are unfolding all over Russian science and academia. For several months by now, the pioneering Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has been targeted almost daily with vicious  public, utterly stupid attacks by several ultra-patriotic Russian media outlets, and some others, milder ones, but now demonstratively pro-Kremlin. Reading the accelerating accusations is nothing short of reading a very grotesque script of a C-class movie trying to portray a XVI century Moscow under Ivan Terrible and his ever-eager boss of butcher militia, Maljuta Skuratov. Except it is all for real, six centuries later. 

Still, all these signs signalling of current ongoing rapid degradation of culture, science, freedom and common sense  in Russia seems to be a children’s jokes in comparison with what is to expect there in a near future, thank to those activists who took care on ‘the right way’ of an education in a huge country of 145 millions, with quite sizeable part of children and youth there. 

At one of the their high-profile state award ceremony towards the end of year 2022, the special award was given to the group of educators from the Ministry of Education who introduced a new subject to Russian schools, in a total motion, ‘Conversations About Things Important”, with corresponding program, materials and text-books ready. Those text-books will teach now all Russian children from the V grade forward such matters as their country’s military campaign ( as they call their Mean War) in Ukraine, and the related matters: international sanctions against their motherland, wrongness of the Western values, the enemies of Russia world-wide, and so on. 

Similar subjects have already been introduced to all Russian universities, in special mandatory courses with over 150 hours each. Plus mandatory in the schools new weekly Lessons of Patriotism. That all means that a system of total ideological indoctrination has been elaborated in Russia and it has already started to be applied there. So the next generation of the Russians, those who are now from 10 years old onward, will be formed in the way of stupid, lying, primitive, provincial uber-propaganda regarding ‘awful West and its awful values’, totally distorted picture of Ukraine and its people, and false narrative of the Russia’s own history. Thus, the next generations of Russians are promised to be a pleasure to deal with. 

This all is engineering of evil, in big and small. And it would have the same consequences as the Stalin and post-Stalin Soviet regimes had on its people. With substantial difference: people in the Soviet Union, after the Bolshevik revolution, solely due to the bloodiest terror imaginable, were victims of inhuman totalitarianism. That totalitarianism ended 30 years ago – before plunging into its own caricature. 

In one of my books, Shattered Generation: The Ten Commandments in the USSR  ( 1991) analysing the result of those 74 years of Soviet totalitarianism in the formation of a human psyche, people’s mentality, behaviour, points of view, outlook of the world, psychology, I wrote that in my view, two generations would be needed for the people from and in the former Soviet Union to overcome those destructive, pressurising factors and to live normal, free, adequate life. While writing that, I opted for two generations in order to be on the safe side. I sincerely did hope that one generation would be enough. Now, thirty years on, a bit over that one generation mark, it turned out that not only it was not enough for return to normality and ability to enjoy freedom organically, but it took practically no time for a huge number of people in a super-sized country to jump back to the time of absurdity. It really is hard for me to understand how on earth people can enjoy anti-freedom and super-lies to the degree that they accept it as a natural environment. 

The devil is in the details, as we all know it. Just one small of those details: Russian TV audiences were not interested in the recent football World Cup, as it happened. The objective data did show a serious drop of those who watched it there. Being surprised, an official pool was conducted to find the reason. They found two of them: absence of the Russian national team at the Mundial, and – occupation of the TV audience with the Russian TV talk shows, those insane programs which a normal human being would be able to watch up to between 10 and 20 seconds. But they are watched in Russia today in a drug-consumption way, seemingly.

And then, that awful, anti-human, dirty Christmas TV advertisement broadcast by official Russian TV channels, typically and characteristically, tweeted proudly on the official Twitter account of the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. I personally do not recall when the Soviet and post-Soviet propaganda was so repulsive and so low. It is like sickness of the mind has become a new normality in the official narrative of the state.  These symptoms are telling. 

Russia’s TV Christmas greetings to Europe. December 2022. Internet Free Archive ©. 

The engineering of evil is going all in that weird place in a full swing. And the world should be ready for the results of this process. 

Year 2022: Beyond the Rubicon

Annual summarising of a year turned to be a painful process with regard to 2022, in Europe in particular. It  is the case for the entire population of viciously attacked Ukraine, for anyone who is connected with Ukraine, and those people can be found all over the world. I know that there is also the case for the people with conscience in Russia, many of whom are telling about 2022 as about ‘the worst year’  in their lives. I just am deeply sad that there obviously are not enough such people for reaching the critical mass necessary for the society as a whole to be morally healthy and humane. Honestly, I am stunned by such a degree of short-sighted self-delusioning , from one side, and that deafening indifference, that stunning absence of normal, natural human reactions and impulses in the face of horrific crimes against humanity in a bordering country among the vast part of the present Russian society, from another side. 

With no compassion, there is no hope. Because the forces of goodness have no room for work, putting it metaphorically. And during the long period of the ten months out of twelve of them in 2022, we have not seen much compassion among the huge Russian population towards their brutally, cruelly, undeservingly, unreasonably victimised neighbours three times smaller in the size of the population. 

The Russian leadership did succeed however, in the Ukrainian people’s unity and  in the world’s prevailing solidarity with them. They also succeeded in igniting the Ukrainian people’s attachment to their attacked land and their country. By its senseless Mean War, the Kremlin, totally contrary to their plans and expectations, did hugely enforce Ukrainian national pride and Ukrainian people’s acute and deep feelings of self-identity. Not to speak about the language and the things related. This is what happens when a daft second-class tyranny is trying to assert their non-existing rights by cruelty and barbarity. 

My husband, observing the horrors of the Mean War daily during almost the entire year 2022, said that ‘the children of Ukraine, those who lived through such a horror and who also saw how people there are helping each other, will rise up into a special generation. It would be the generation of strong people with enforced morale, who went through horror, torment, and terrible trials, and who hold on, and overcome it. These people would be really something special”

I cannot agree more with my husband. We both from the bottoms of our hearts would very much prefer that the generation of young Ukrainians would not pay such a terrible price for the  admirable qualities of their moulding characters, and that the time of their and all Ukrainian people’s torment will come to its end as soon as possible. Many of us are doing everything one can to help them to overcome evil. And they will.  

The ending year 2022 was the most tragic , graphically and literally tragic one in the lives of millions of people in and from Ukraine, and for so many others, especially those connected with Ukraine in various ways, people in so many countries. The year in which the evil decided to attack, and did it on so many levels. This attack has created a new balance between good and evil, thus creating not even a new picture, but entirely a new quality of reality. This quality is objective and thus is seen and is realised by the world whatever official Moscow is delusioning itself and its few North-Korean and Iranian partners with, in their pathetic, badly formulated obscure nonsense. 

The qualitative change in the international affairs started and defined by the Mean War resulted in the fact of the year 2022 itself as the Rubicon of our time. Never again, the relations between Ukraine and its neighbour Russia would be the same as it used to be for centuries prior to the Mean War. Never again, the attitude towards aggressor Russia in the world would be like it used to be before February 24th, 2022. Never again, the quality of society inside Russia would be as it used to be prior to the insane but stubborn brutality of their country in that unprovoked aggression. 

Inna Rogatchi ©. Towards the Sun. Blue & Yellow series. 2022.

There are things in life which are not amenable by any treaties. They originated in the people’s souls and have their own strength and vitality. They are unerasable from people’s both individual and collective memories. Those things actually drive lives, sometimes in generations. 

The Mean War, started in 2022 and commanded our lives for almost all of the year, has made its victim Ukraine strong and compassionate, while its originator, aggressor Russia, a despicable arrogant loser. In generations to come.

December 2022 (C).

‘COVETED ATMOSPHERE OF THE PAST’, or BACK TO UGLY FARCE

Inna Rogatchi (C). Space Jorney I. Blue & Yellow, Yellow & Blue Collection. 2022.

Month Six: July 20 – August 17, 2022 

Russia as a Slavonic North Korea: A Juche Kind of a Joke

Six month ago when the Mean War broke out, with the barrage of sanctions to follow, some people were joking about Russia jumping back to become a sort of North Korea of the XXI century. Those people were joking. What they’ve said was a metaphor. But six months on, even a definition of a metaphor when describing realities in Russia needs to be re-defined. A metaphor in Russia today is a reality foreseen, because that country went off rail of logic and reason. 

If someone would tell me in the mid- and late 1990s when I was teaching modern Soviet and post-Soviet history and mentality in a number of universities in Europe and the US, that well into the XXI century, after thirty years of post-communism, Russia will become a close partner and devoted friend with North Korea, I would laugh my head out. But now those in North Korea are laughing their heads out, because it has become a sheer truth. 

Russia’s closeness to North Korea proceeds quickly and decisively, and now we know that it is happening because of the decisions at the top level. Top-top one. That top-top has a draconic sense of humour, clearly. With no joking, just noting: according to Russia’s officials, there will indeed be thousands of labour force from North Korea to work in the occupied territories of Ukraine, to rebuild what the Russian army has demolished. As unbelievable as it sounds, locally placed Russian officials are praising ‘the North Korean labour force, because they are highly disciplined and quiet. After listening every morning to their mandatory radio ‘lessons’ ( tough propaganda of brutal dictatorship) which will be translated for them in the occupied parts of  Ukraine where they will be sent to work, and the special care was taken of it, they are working exemplary the rest of the day, causing no problems whatsoever”

This is a quote. It means that a fantasmagory created by the open hater of the Soviet regime from Kiev , the great Russian writer Michael Bulgakov in his Dog’s Heart classic play where a more or less normal human being was transformed into a rabid idiot called Sharikov ( Doggy)  after a transplantation of a dog’s heart to a hard-core Bolshevik, has become a reality in Russia exactly a century after Bulgakov has wrote his famous play.  If only he knew. Or maybe, he did know. 

After reaching the understanding regarding the North Korean labour-force, there were statements in Russia about a hundred of thousands North Korean soldiers to be sent to the Russian-Ukrainian front. These statements were not confirmed officially at this stage, but the representatives of the North Korea alongside representatives of another Marxist hell of Nicaragua, under the lead of one and only Steven Segal who now feels himself ‘a true Russian’ ( also his direct quote) has formed an official – and independent, of course – body of foreign experts who visited the place of Katyn 2.0 called Elenovka where over 50 Ukrainian prisoners were blown up, with over 80 wounded, with no guard from the Russian prison harmed. Steven Segal now in what’s left of his acting craft poses as ‘true Russian’ citing that his grandpa was born in Vladivostok. Yet a six+ months ago, we were hearing day and night about the same Steve Segal’s grandpa from Odessa. Now, the grandpa from Odessa disappeared from Steven’s memory, because otherwise he would not work on his dead-important official position of a special representative of the President of Russia for international cultural cooperation. It is true. It is his official position. And if this is true, what a joke means now? And what about a tasteless joke?

Those stunning but steady steps in Russia’s policy towards North Korea were explained recently by the insiders from the Kremlin who, in a palpable bewilderment for themselves, testified that there is ‘real and rare decision on the top to move towards North Korea in a demonstrated way, to emphasise the sharing of the same ideals (  priceless)  and principles, and to assure the North Korean leadership in the Russia’s conscious and open decision of close cooperation”. This fantasmagory proved to be true to the letter in the recent Russian president’s emphatic speech full of praise of his country’s real friends from North Korea at the giant Russian arms fair in Moscow in the mid-August. So now we know. It is true, it has been decided and it is sealed. There is no point to joke any longer about Russia becoming North Korea in some perspective. They have decided that they like it. One does not know to cry or to laugh upon such decisions at such a level for such a big country possessing the second in the world nuclear arsenal. But gaping we are. 

At the massive Arms Fair in Moscow, there were present 67 countries, according to the official information, all North Korea, Mali and Nicaragua-wise, with supremely exotic countries such as Kingdom of Eswatini ( this is Swaziland). Some lucky visitors were quite impressed by the splendid mood of numerous  Chinese representatives there who, according to an eye-witness report, were speaking all the time extremely loud and who were laughing non-stop, extremely loudly too’.  Well, for the representatives of the Chinese military-defence sector in Russia, there is a golden-rush hour for six months and counting. Their laugh is only natural. And it is only the first act of the show. 

And the Sun Revolves Around Earth : Dark Age In Russia Is In a Full Swing 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Fact and a Matter. Concepts series. 2022.

When I got the certain message a few weeks ago from one of our acquaintances in Russia, I thought that well, although I understand that normal, good people who are staying in Russia are tired and weared off, morally and psychologically, and as the result of it, their sense of humour could lose its quality, still what I have been reading on my screen, was a far too tasteless, I thought. Too childish, too raw, to awake the  public to the degree of decadence their society is living now, intellectually. So I dismissed it. 

The next day, the message came not from an acquaintance, but from a close friend who was in panic. “ Listen, it was not a joke. It is a god damn truth. It is the official result of the VZIOM recent pool. Do have a look. It is unbelievable”. VZIOM is Russian official pooling body, and they were never noted to be any kind of a dissidents. More: the completely astonishing results of that real pool have prompted the VZIOM leadership not just to publish it, but to issue a special official statement, a SOS call to fix the education of that country of 145 million which is so proud of its culture and literature. 

The results of that planned pool which VZIOM conducts every 7th year is not amusing reading. It is literally the case of impossibility to believe your own eyes. The gist of it goes as follows: 35% of the Russian population do believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth. Only 12% of the Russian population knows that the Earth encircles the Sun during a one-month period. 21% of the Russian population believes that the Neanderthals were walking next to dinosauruses. 44% of the Russian population believes that gene-modified products cause cancer. 21% of the Russian population has a low level of scientific knowledge. 33% of the Russian population ( of those who participated in the pool) were unable to produce more than two correct answers to the number of questions. In comparison with previous pools, during the last 15 years, from 2007 onward, the degree of mistaken, wrong, or no knowledge at all has rosen up to 7%, in comparison with  previous 28% of uneducated or unknowledgeable people.  This is a disaster. And this disaster tells about so many processes and things in that society which has chosen to become a bunch of mediocres, to put it mildly. Publishing the astonishing news, The Jerusalem Post which is known as rather mild in its tone media, added a sub-head-line: ‘Perhaps, it explains a lot’. It surely does. 

For those who grew up in the totalitarian Soviet Union and whose life was in many respects a life in a giant prison, our self-decency was based, provided and guaranteed by our education, very often, self-education, or always a self-education additionally to anything we were studying. Not to have an university degree was unthinkable for 90% of the Soviet youth from the early 1960s through the end of the 1980s. Most of us were absolutely poor, but our life was very rich intellectually. We were worthy people. Those mannequins of whom 35% are pathetic idiots have brought themselves to the status of worthless beings with means. No wonder that the drive towards North Korea is so real there.  

Coveted Atmosphere of the Past”: New SMERSH in Making, Target – Culture

Michael Rogatchi (C). Kolyma. Indian Ink, oil, canvas, paper on cardboard. 1993. The Rogatchi Art Collection.

Nothing should surprise us any longer in the country which turned towards Juche doctrine from its top down. But still, living in another reality, it is very difficult to believe that many things and processes unfolding in Russia are for real. For example, our cultural friends from there were terrified by establishing in the Russian parliament a special group combining the MPs and some pro-Kremlin cultural activists who all demonstrated zealotry towards those many writers, artists, directors, etc. who are not supporting the Mean War. The group called GRAD in some abbreviation, is very proactive now. They give press-conferences, issue statements, and call for action. What action do they mean? To create a new SMERSH, the worst part of the NKVD during the Stalin regime. This new SMERSH is for cleansing the Russian cultural figures who are passive or critical towards the Mean War. This is an official statement by senior MPs and other Russian top officials. Today. 

Still, it was hard to believe that anything like that could actually have a place nowadays. I was struggling with this inability to comprehend this darkness in action in the daylight in Moscow – until I had not received a document from there. The list, on a bad paper, yellowish, no quality, printed in the Russian Duma, as one of the documents of the activities of the GRAD group. It is a table of five pages. The number, from one to 136, the surname, name and patrimonius name as it is used in Russia, the profession – writer, artist, theatrical director, composer, translator, philosopher, etc. -, the place of work, the position, and then the place for marking a person’s attitude towards the war. There are only two categories: ‘Silent’ and ‘Against”. Those who are marked  with ‘Against’ are highlighted in a muddy darkish coffee-latte colour.  

I was about to go to bed when I got the list. I couldn’t fall asleep for  several hours. Like a fixated zombie, I was looking on the list trying to comprehend that I am seeing the real document in front of me. I still cannot believe it. But I know that it is true, and many of our good friends are there, creme a la creme of Russia’s cultural stage until recently, in that list prepared inside the Russian parliament. 

It reminded me that while teaching the life of the society and personal mentality of the Soviet people, which I did in many universities world-wide, I found that it was near impossible to convey to thousands of my students from Finland, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the US two things: that the sheer idiocy, and absolute absurd of many things in the Soviet life were for real; and – the fear. The fear which the Soviet people of three generations got under their skin with their birth, and which is hardly translate-able into the minds of the people who are living in a different reality. The same as it is impossible to translate the fear of the Jews of Europe before , during and after ( that’s too, importantly) the Holocaust. People can be compassionate, but only a Jewish person can live the fear which was the fear of their brethren during the Shoah. The same as it is impossible to translate any other socio-based fear which is unique for a specific group of people living in a specific circumstances: Germans after the end of the WWII, a part of Americans during the McCarthy hysterical campaign, any people under any dictatorship: Cambodians, Vietnamese, Chinese, and yes, North Koreans. This fear is always specific. 

When I was looking, in a total disbelief, on the 5-page list on that bad-quality paper for the new SMERSH to act against the best people of the Russian culture today, I was thinking on the Stalin repressions against Soviet intelligentsia already after the WWII, from 1947 onward, until the tyrant’s death in 1953, including The Doctors Affairs, and the persecutions against the best professors in the leading universities. The existence of this list today is the reality of Russia. The chilling reality. And it has to be realised for what it is. 

And this has become possible because of a sole reason: when in the end of 1991 – beginning of 1992, the archives of all possible sorts in the power centre of the collapsed USSR were suddenly opened, for a short enough period, the  people who came to lead the country after Gorbachev, were unable to do what was necessary at the moment: a thorough de-communization. It is due to that, the terrible system, with its cannibalistic Stalin-period horrific crimes, were not denounced officially, not explained, not dealt with as it should. As a direct result of this weakness and incompetence, Russia today is what it is, with neo-Stalinism in a high fashion, poorly educated society, rapidly growing ignorance, and increasing practices of counter-civilisation – when in the same Russian parliament some MPs in full seriousity proposing to demand from the visiting Finns who are filling the tanks of their cars in Russia during their trip to sign a document that they are personally supporting Mean War. How about that? 

They are living in the reality in which, with a huge advertisement campaign,  they have organised these days a huge rock – so-called – music marathon of the Soviet-time hits inside their main functioning cathedral, with the following key-phrase in the myriads of ads: “Back to the Coveted Past! Soviet Hits-marathon in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour!” 

Back to the coveted past. In comparison with that 136-names list for new SMERSH, their turn towards Juche is really a joke. 

Circus Atop Of a Tank, for Real

Inna Rogatchi (C). Metamorphoses III. 2018.

And some part of cultural circles  in Russia reacts to the threats, new ideology, old Stalinism back en force, renewed fear. I am tired of repeating how unbelievable many things are happening now, every single day, in  Juche-sied Russia. So I better show it to my readers. This is the show at the famous Moscow Circus, the main circus in Russia. Circus is very popular in Russia. People are taking their children to circuses en masse. Moscow Circus is regarded as the best, the most important in the country. A Bolshoy among the circuses. This is what they are showing to their children today. Any questions why many European countries do not like to provide them with visas any longer? This video should be a recommended material for any consular affairs department world-wide. Let them decide, after watching it, starting with those hot advocates for issuing mass-waves of the visas for Russian tourists in Spain, Italy, and Greece. 

The Wave of Distancing 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Tale in Making I. 2022.

For some while now, there has been a new and specific phenomenon in forming. The attitude towards people who had migrated from Russia to various countries after the beginning of the war in Ukraine, has changed to a serious degree. After the first six months of the Mean War, the geography of this phenomenon is widening rapidly, somewhat even surprisingly. I never witnessed anything like that, and was surprised in the beginning, after first three months of the war, or so. Now, more and different countries were added to the disappointed ones list, with the same pattern of this disappointment: it is enough.

In Latvia, the intellectuals who used to work together with their colleagues from Russia in theatre and cinema intensely and successfully, are protesting now. In their view, a large number of the Russian senior or popular journalists and media personalities who moved to Riga, are behaving – and working – in the way of demonstrating “an incurable Russian imperialistic, or neo-imperialistic views and traditions”.   When one sees and hears the both sides, one notices indeed that media personalities from Russia who has got a disproportionately large number of  media licences from Latvia, are producing the very same content and in a very same way in which they used to work and behave at home: stubborn, up to be slightly pathetic, tangibly arrogant, unwilling to learn, to listen, to be flexible. In one word, to be respectful towards others. 

This is not only a professional problem of the newest way of Russian emigration in 2022. It is a general problem for many, although far from all, people from that country.  I have analysed the reasons for that before. It is only in that country, a very senior – and supposedly well-educated – MP with vast international experience can shrug off Andy Warhol as ‘a cheap rascal who was unable to draw’. I would provide Mess Pushkov with a rapid Warhol course, free, and tell him a thing or two about the artist who started his career as extremely talented draughtsman whose originals in a large quantities I saw in detail in the collection of the Warhol’s principal supporter, my friend late Ina Ginsbourg. But I know that it does not matter what mess Pushkov would hear and process inside himself, would not change his public stand because it would not. And it is very similar with many of the public and media personalities from Russia who are behaving in the way which does not help people in many different countries to relate well towards them and their country, even if they are against the current leadership of Russia. They do need to learn to live and to be respectful towards the others: people, countries, history, cultures, traditions. I am repeating it for 35 years. In vain, so far. But I still hope that perhaps, some of them will learn. I am an incurable hope-filled observer.

More than twenty NGOs in Georgia have sent a very strong letter to the Georgian government with a demand to introduce visas to the citizens of Russia. Georgia which is splendidly hospital and where people were receiving the guests and visitors from Russia always warmly and cordially, has changed in its attitude now towards a huge wave of people from Russia who went to live there after the start of the war. People in Georgia grew tired from the same things that people in Latvia did. They are protesting to their government now and demanding urgent measures to be introduced to handle and to regulate the situation. 

People in Kazakhstan show the same process of distancing from their Russian neighbours. For the first time ever, the Kazakh government decided not to teach Russian language in their school from the first class. It is unprecedented. But there are many serious reasons behind this decision. 

 The government of Estonia has gotten enough of the tourists from Russia and decided not only to stop issuing new visas, but to annul the issued ones which is not the most indisputable international law decision. They also finally took away the ugly and wrong T-34 tank as a memorial of the specific Soviet friendship in Narva. They decided to close the border with Russia temporarily for the time of the operation. We are living in a weird time. In Narva where 97% of the population is Russian speaking, there was not a single protest against removal of the tank which was moved to the museum of a war history. Estonian authorities obviously were unaware of a high need of real tank equipment for Moscow and other Russian circuses nowadays. 

Similarly, an ugly 6-metre monument symbolising special relations with Moscow, with its 10 -metre pedestal, was removed from its place in Helsinki, in a 5-minute operation, with absolute approval of the move by the population in Helsinki and Finland. 

In a move which was absolutely unthinkable a very short time ago, Finland will decrease the issuing of visas to all those thousands of people from our big eastern neighbour who were coming here en masse for years and many of whom have bought a lot of property in Finland.  

In London, the Saatchi Gallery has cancelled a big show of Ukrainian art, with its charitable part, organised by a known collector of a contemporary art whose background is not just Russian, but in formerly close proximity to the Kremlin for both him and his family, and well-known art consultant with the similar background who declared his opposition to the Kremlin today from Europe where he is based, but in vain. Ukrainian artists protested the show, the way it was organised, the way it was publicised, and the fact that the organisers are notable representatives of the Russian elite close to the Kremlin, even if in the past. Do they have a point protesting? Yes, they do – because, as it turned out, many artists were not even asked about their wishes to participate in the pompously advertised show. Typical. 

It all – the attitude towards the representatives of the aggressor – has come to the point when the Russia’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs in a hysterical tone demands from the US State Department that they ‘would immediately issue the visa to the head of our delegation at the Autumn UN plenary session, Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Sergey Lavrov. It is unheard of in the conduct of international policy” – they are fuming.

Thus, the matter of issuing a visa to attend the UN Plenary Session in September 2022 equals the minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation , the member of the UN Security Council ( wrongly so, in my humble opinion) with the minister for foreign affairs of Iran. And this is where the Russian leadership has brought their country and its people in their incurable genetic admiration of Juche-everything in the third decade of the XXI century.

Small people have finally ruined a big country with a huge population. Russian talent and its potential has become irrelevant at the moment, and who knows for how long. Good, conscious people in Russia, not pompous stars and selfish new immigrants, are paying the price, unfairly so, and it is high one, indeed. I do feel for them, including many of our friends. They are not screaming for help, they are not posing with arrogance, they are unable to leave Russia and to live outside it for a number of reasons. But it does not mean that they do agree with what is going on there. In their principal and clear disagreement, they live decently, although not wealthy at all, and they do possess much more decency and unlimited compassion towards people in Ukraine than many of those who are living outside Russia but still behave like they never left Moscow down-town.

The core moment here is that those people who did ruin Russia were leniently allowed to do it, both inside and outside Russia. This lenience and other selfish, lazy, monetary and other considerations of those who did allow such ugly transformation of Russia towards a Juche grotesk, did help to transform our world into a bleak, very tense, dramatic and tragic place. Nobody wanted it, but everybody got it.

And this is our new, painful, unpredictable, and very vulnerable experience-in-making. The outcome of the first half of a year of the Mean War. 

LOGIC OF IRRATIONALITY and GREYING-HAIR CHILDREN: the Fifth Month of the Mean War

Month Five: June 22 – July 20, 2022

Russian Irrationality: A Marker of Another World-ness 

Michael Rogatchi (C). The Wheel of Fortune. 1991-2021.

After the first shocking and intense months, the Mean War’s character has changed from the first two and a half months of daily horror, followed by weekly peaks of violence and escalation for another six weeks, and then being transformed into a monthly path of attacks,  destruction and death. As military strategists would say it, the war has become positioned. What does it mean for millions of people, on an individual level, who are attacked non-stop, replaced, orphaned, wounded, deprived from home, work, normal life? It means a positioned Mean War. Because the intentions of the aggressor did not change for a bit. And it will not. 

When intellectuals of all sorts and from variety of spheres traditionally love to mention Russian irrationality as the essential treat of the nation, very often previously they were undershooting or overshooting, as it was the easiest way to explain something which was not necessarily well known or properly understood by many. But now, this special characteristic, irrationality, is well in place, in my view, as the essential – and largely incomprehensible for the outside observers – drive for the Russian top decision-makers to start and to continue the Mean War. 

 What is irrational for us is perfectly rational for them, and here lies a rather serious distinction which, in my view, is still under-appreciated. People on the peak of the Russian power pyramid are driven by their own logic, their own norms, their own values and understanding, and nothing in the outside world, just nothing at all, would make them see the values and way of behaviour the same as we are. This should be understood. It would not be possible without having a mighty backyard which is behind them and which allows them to be irrational, from our point of view, or to follow their line, from theirs. This backyard includes the size of their country’s territory, the size of its population, the size of their resources of various kinds, and of course, their nuclear arsenal, even the very fact of its existence. 

When teaching and advising on conflict resolution and decision-making, I tried to explain to my students and my colleagues that Russian post-communist decision-makers organically and genuinely perceive Ukraine as a natural and integral part of their country. Genuineness is a key-point here. It is a key-point because it forms and cements their convictions. And with this logic of irrationality, and organic convictions however wrong they might be, Russia’s leaders will pursue their operation to subdue Ukraine back for as long as it takes. There should be no illusion with this regard. 

Greying hair children

Inna Rogatchi ©. Wind in Grey. 2022. 

The fifth month of the Mean War  brought us two massive crimes against the civilian population in Ukraine, in similarly undiscriminating missile attacks on populated civil targets in two sizeable Ukrainian cities, a mall in Kremenchug and a multi-purpose complex in Vinnitsa. There were many victims in both cases, with awful symbolism of murdered 4-year old girl, Lisa, who was on the way to her speech therapist with her mom in Vinnitsa, and heavily wounded young mom. Among the victims were two more children, young boys, there were also those whose bodies were burned for 95 % and 98%, both women, just imagine. There was also a very good and widely popular doctor, neurologist, whose both thighs were torn off by the missile explosion and who died a terrible death. Practically, everyone who was in the clinic in Vinnitsa at the moment of the attack, is dead. 

The Russian army and its contract soldiers and officers under other circumstances could be qualified as clumsy. But their ongoing clumsiness has claimed so many lives and brought so much sorrow and tragedies that this word cannot be used to describe their utter unprofessionalism and idiocy. I remember when Baroness Thatcher in one of our personal conversations did emphasise: “ Mrs Rogatchi, don’t you agree that a country’s sovereignty and thus, its might and potentiality is defined by just three factors: its army, its currency, and its borders?” I took a pause. I did agree on two last points with Lady Thatcher, but I was not that sure regarding an army as the first factor in that top-three list, and I could think about a few other factors to define a country’s sovereignty and its might. Lady Thatcher saw my slight hesitation, and went on: “ Yes, Mrs Rogatchi, these three factors, indeed, and in this order. With these three factors in order, a country will be safe and strong, and it will prosper, and it will be independent. Really independent. We cannot give in on any of those three factors, not to an inch”. It was in the mid-1990s. But of course, this postulate is timeless. And Margaret Thatcher who was shrewd and deep, did see it right. 

The quality of an army does define a country’s sovereignty, obviously. But it also defines the level of development, and the level of civility of a country. The quality of Russia’s army as we all are witnessing it with horror for five last months in Ukraine, is appalling.   

Then, there is such a specific phenomenon in the Mean War as masses of gun-layers, fire coordinators for Russia all over Ukraine. That phenomenon has started back in March, and by now it has been spread all over Ukraine to such serious effect that the governor of Mykolaiv city has been planning for a while already to seal and shut down this large enough city for a certain period of time specifically in order to search and locate these gun-layers working for Russia. 

The same situation is true for the entire Ukraine, as it happens. Soon after the start of the war, Russian military authorities managed to infiltrate into the streams of refugees from Donbass and other regions, the tens of thousands of people who relocated to the central, southern and Western parts of Ukraine a large number of gun-layers, coordinators of fire, who have been working for Russia ever since. The thing is that most of those hundreds of people are not professional military personnel. They are working for the aggressor for money, and they do their work so badly that the Russian army repeatedly hits the wrong targets. It is an epidemic of badly done amateur coordination of fire which led to all these tragedies. 

The tragedy is defined by the irreversibility of an event. Death is death. Torn off limb is torn for good. And there are so many of these limbs, even a part of a child’s back, as it was the case of 9-year old Jura from Mariupol whose diary has become well publicised. I have some pages of Jura’s diary in my archive. Every now and then, I look at those pages for a long time. Really long time. Looking at Jura’s child’s hand-write and trying to place in my head what this nine-year-old boy was thinking and feeling while writing his simple lines. This is what war is about, a cardinal transformation of human’s psyche. For good. If you are still alive.

We knew it from the witnesses of the Second World War. Now we are the witnesses. Direct ones, no distance. We are learning in the process. And this learning is exemplified in symbolic images. Like a greying-hair boy from Mariupol who is just eight-years old. This greying-hair child does not go away from my head. Once I learned about him, during this fifth month of the Mean War, I kept thinking about him, and other greying-hair children from Ukraine, all the time. Daily. And while I have a lot of ideas related to the conflict-resolution field, and several quite actual war-prompted projects in progress, I simply do not know what to do with the fact of this greying-hair eight-year old boy. I do not. 

Missiles at the Nuclear Plant and North Koreans to restore Donbass

Inna Rogatchi ©. Storm in Progress. 2020. 

For some reason, the Russian military is so utterly unqualified that they seemingly do not realise a thing about nuclear plant security and safety. They did demonstrate stunning incompetence at the Chernobyl nuclear plant zone in the beginning of the war, as I wrote about it several times. And they continue to do so with another nuclear plant in Ukraine which they have seized near Zaporizhya. Energodar plant is the largest in Europe, and the danger of such incomprehensible negligence and unbelievable stupidity is imminent and a very alarming one. After imposing their control over the seized huge nuclear plant, Russian ‘liberators’ sent over 500 soldiers to guard the entrances and perimeter there, which is nothing in comparison with what they did next. 

Unsung yet genius from their General Staff has decided to turn a huge nuclear plant into a full-scale military base stuffed with all possible and impossible weaponry. My guess is that this genius responsible for such a decision, is illiterate. I have no other explanation for such tactical know-how. During this fifth month of the Mean War, ‘the liberators’ positioned tanks, heavy artillery batteries, multiple launch rocket Grad and Hurricane systems all over the Energodar territory. More – all territory of the nuclear station is covered by trenches now. To dig trenches all around a nuclear plant is an exceptional military know-how. More – all over the perimeter of the special water reservoir for the plant, ‘the liberators’ has placed a lot of mines. The water from this reservoir is used for the cooling of all six nuclear reactors of Energodar. Now this reservoir is mine-’protected’ by the Russian army’s design. Who on earth is teaching them anything there anymore?

In discussion with the friend. General Alexander Lebed and Inna Rogatchi. Moscow, mid-1990s. The Rogatchi Archive (C).

I remember visiting  late general Alexander Lebed in the middle of the 1990s in his dizzyingly huge cabinet in a special building in the centre of Moscow when my good friend shortly, for just three months, occupied the position of the Secretary of the Russia’s Security Council and the Special Adviser for President Eltsyn on National Security. We did not know how to deal with the absurd size of that huge office, and we were sitting for a while in one area of it and jumping to another, doing it three or four times. I would not even start to describe all elaborate pantomime of our conversation, when you have to manage to have a coherent conversation in a loud voice assuming that it is recorded, and at the same time to make sense while whispering, mimicking, using all arsenal of gestures and inventions in order to say and to hear the real things which you know should not be recorded. This is a highly developed skill in any serious Russian office, traditionally so. Just in case.

At that moment, Lebed had left the army where he spent over 25 years, recently enough, just over a year or so, and every office in his newly started civil career did show it very clearly: they were all no-nonsense offices, nothing extra, very neat ones, every single subject there was strictly necessary to the general. On his giant table in that office, there were a couple of books placed  on his right hand. 

I would not be interested in it, unless Lebed himself pointed my attention to it. “Did you notice my books of the day? – he asked, smiling, knowing that I did not. – Yeah, sure. What are they? – I asked, understanding that there is something important that he wanted to convey to me over the books. I looked closer. On the top, there was a text-book of physics. – Why this one? – I asked my friend. – You graduated from the ( military) academy a while ago, no? – And with honours, – Lebed smiled. – But there are some more text-books, see? – he moved the top common physics text-book showing me the manuals on nuclear safety. – You see, they in ( the military ) academy did teach us well enough on those things. Then in the army, that vital knowledge was kept updated for the officers all the time, including special drills for officers only on an alphabet of this ( nuclear) safety. We were made to physically exercise various situations in this area which are not in the text-books, even specific military text-books. We were taught how to secure the plant, or any other nuclear object, how to maintain the security there, how to evacuate the people including the personnel, we had to know a lot in order to keep it safe, because the main principle there is to be able to maintain the nuclear safety professionally in a full-scale being not professional ( after evacuating the personnel).  And why do you think that you need to refresh your knowledge now, in this chair? – I asked the general. – Because  I know what is going on here ( in the country), and I believe that the knowledge of which only students of the military academies were privy,  and not of all of them, say, top officer corpus only, should be made available far more widely. So, I am preparing to implement it from now on, including conducting drills, all over, massively ( in the army).  Nuclear safety in general, and especially after the Chernobyl ( catastrophe) is the most important thing for our army. It should be the first and the last thing here, and we simply have no luxury on being clumsy on it. I will not allow anyone to play any games over this issue, believe me” – said general Lebed in his capacity as the Secretary of the Russia’s Security Council to me in his office in Moscow some 25 years ago. 

There was nothing declarative in his conviction on the matter. He did not give me an interview or anything like that. We were good friends and we were speaking as friends. He was sharing his worries with me. But precisely because he was a good, honest and strong man, and also the one who knowing war well, as any really good soldier, hated it and was professionally-minded and capable committed and convinced peacemaker, he did not manage to be on his top place for long. Just three months. This is not to mention what has happened to this special man six year later when he died in a helicopter crash in 2002.

A generation on, we, in total disbelief, are watching a macabre of the present-day Russian army just unbelievable incompetence in dealing with nuclear safety both in Chernobyl and Energodar in Ukraine, so near from their own territory. And this is not any drills. It all is for real. It is screamingly dangerous, as now, as during any period of time when they will control such objects during and because of the Mean War.  

By committing all these things, screaming out from the point of view of nuclear safety, some of those smart – yesses believe that they have established a safety belt  and shield for their positions. This is what they sincerely believe in. It could be utterly laughable unless it is so awfully dangerous. Poor people who are working at the Energodar and who all have become the hostages of ‘the liberators’, 500 hundred-strong personnel, are warning all the time that this nightmare situation at Energodar is the way to the catastrophe, God forbid, which would be much worse than Chernobyl. IAEA which is extremely alarmed by this horror-film situation is blocked from any action, as it happen: the obligatory monitoring from the largest in Europe nuclear plant is withdrawn from the IAEA systematically, and despite their urgent necessity to visit the station, they cannot do it because it would mean the recognition of the Russian occupying power over it. So, it is another vicious circle prompted by the Mean War, which in this case is a ticking bomb of a giant size, literally so. And a group of Russian nuclear experts from Rosatom who were sent to keep an eye on the seized nuclear giant, and who do understand something about their professional subject, presumably, first of all has organised a protected bunker for themselves where they are spending all the time, reportedly. 

Apart of biding time until Energodar will be appropriated by Rosatom officially, which would become possible, as the Russian authorities plans after the referendum on the going under the Russia’s sovereignty for all seized parts of Ukraine ( and this is the fifth of the Ukrainian territory by now), they are probably also waiting for new re-builders and restorers of Donbass and beyond – the news of the hour is that the destroyed by the Russian army seized territories of Ukraine will be rebuilt by the workers from North Korea. No joke. It is official diplomatic information and one of the great achievements of that weird country. The move is in a perfect accord with the level of the present-day Russia, its authorities’ thinking, its standards and its real place in the world. They have become now contractors of the North Korean workforce, what a great achievement. Complimenti a tutti.

Decency in Russia: In Expectation of Punishment 

Inna Rogatchi ©. Elegy I. 2018. Yellow & Blue (C) Special collection in support of Ukraine.

After five months of the Mean War, and as the direct result of it, some  certain tendencies among the best part of Russian society has become a tangible phenomenon. 

Additionally to a justified horror, shame, rejection of the country’s official policy and its barbaric actions, a deeper feeling of uneasiness of existence overwhelms those bright and consciousness-possessing people. There is also a fundamental, painful cognitive dissonance between a vitrine of current worries-free life in Russia and the reality of feelings of those people who are able and willing to feel the pain of others. 

I do not know how to live, – tells our close friend who briefly visited the West. – Since the first hour of that nightmare ( when the Mean War was broken in February 2022), I was and am still completely overwhelmed with this shocking reality which feels like anything but reality. It is rather a dream, nightmare, scary tale, you name it. All this time, five months on, I cannot awake from that bad dream, from that nightmare. I still feel like a somnambula every day, all the time. But most of all, I am terrified to think about what would follow this war. I think, and I am afraid to think about it, that  it will be something absolutely terrible there, inside the country ( Russia). It just cannot be otherwise after everything that has been done by now” – our friend is deeply, uncharacteristically, terrified of the prospects of life in Russia. 

Another friend who now lives abroad, went back to Russia for a brief visit. His first-hand impressions are similar: “ In Moscow, there is no murky Z-marked landscape, contrary to what I was afraid of, life is thriving in the summer, all cafes and restaurants are open, all theatres, museums, libraries, everything. Laughter and music  are heard from every summer terrace, youth is all around, everything is bursting. As if nothing is happening, nothing at all. And my only thought after that quasi-surreal picture that I did observe, is pressing me down with its giant weight: “ When the punishment for all this, this pretended ignorance and false happiness including, will come, it will be truly horrible punishment. And it will come”. And this is the only thing about which I am thinking non-stop after those few days in Moscow, under the summer sun” – this decent man is truly deeply  terrified. 

The other one visited St Petersburg, also briefly, and painted a bit different picture, more St Petersburg-like: “ At all subway stations, there are giant Z-symbols. So people are coming and going every morning and every evening, and even if one is Z-resistant, the effect of such staying-on propaganda works sub-consciously. People stopped speaking with each other sincerely, that old feeling of being watched is back. It feels like an apocalypse, or like many, or some, at least,  personal apocalypses. What will happen after it is over? This question bothers me so much. How to live? I have no answer. No answer at all”. 

This man is so right. Reading his message, I think about our other close friend from St Petersburg, a jovial, vivid person who always was amongst people, who loved people’s company, was thriving in it. He took the Mean War so badly, he felt wounded personally so deeply that he literally cut his ties with most of his friends and acquaintances. He just cannot maintain the business-as-usual mode despite his business depends on communicating daily with a lot of people. He has become almost numbed, both metaphorically and literally. And he knows that nothing good is waiting for them even after the active phase of the nightmare is over. Because of a colossal moral damage done which is insuperable during the life of at least one generation. 

And then – to live in a deep, tangible, pressurising expectation of punishment is the part of the punishment already, day and night, in the reality which has crushed everything good which has been in the Russian life before, during the previous 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 30 years is half of a life, or about it. It is a bit over the period of one generation, the entire generation, as it goes. So the half of a life of the people of my generation in Russia is virtually thrown into the WC flash, whatever music sounds in those multiply summer cafe terraces all over Moscow. To be associated with their country has become acutely toxic for Russian people. And how on earth a normal human being, not cannibalistic moron, or indefinitely stupid lumpen-patriot can be associated with that black hole into which – morally, humanistically, intellectually – Russia has been transferred by its mediocre leadership who believe in shamanism and rely on spectacularly unbright surrounding? 

* * * * * 

The fifth month of the Mean War  emphasised Russia’s goals in this scandalous aggression which are in fact far further geographically than they did announce it, and are seeking to seize Ukraine’s exits to the seas entirely. It means imposing their control over Odessa and Mykolaiv, and dividing Ukraine all the way up to the north from there. If they are controlling 20% of Ukraine’s territory today, such an objective which seems to be their real plan, would mean grabbing a half of the Ukrainian territory.

That month of war from mid-June to mid-July 2022 also demonstrated the appalling quality of the Russian army, and unnecessary, unprovoked cruelty and brutality of this five-month long military campaign. Such brutality and cruelty can be applied being motivated by an obsessive hatred at the top of this military machine and by total emotional disengagement on the ground. 

The fifth month of the Mean War also showed once again – and with more time the war is prolonged, the more such phenomena are graphic – that the Russian power pyramid and its army do not have intentions  or concept of self-restraint regarding practically anything. Such intentions are regarded in that  Tsardom of Irrationality as a sign of weakness. In their logic of irrational, a weakness is worse than un-reasonability. This is really another world, which, in a worrisome paradox, is so near from us, just the next door for many. 

Additionally to a greying hair 8-year-old boy from Ukraine, bottomlessly tragic pictures of a little 4-year old Lisa with Down-syndrome minutes before her murder in Vinnitsa, and the father of the killed 13-year old boy from Kharkov who kept his dead boy’s hand for two hours being unable to detach himself from his son’s body ( as it happened, one of my acquaintances knows the family well, and it always makes the pain so much more piercing in), one phrase by a friend from St Petersburg has marked this as desperate, as the previous four, the fifth month of the Mean War. When discussing that weird condition under which the decent part of the Russian public lives these five month, that man mentioned quietly by firmly: “Remarque did not manage to return ( to his native Germany after the end of WWII), despite being willing initially to do so. He just could not. He had nobody there to return to”. 

This observation sounds like a sentence to me. But it is true. And this is what the Mean War has already done with many people’s lives, if not with an entire country which started it.

Week 17: June 15 – 22, 2022 – AROUND FOOD. OR ABSENCE OF IT

  

Inna Rogatchi (C). Diary Pages. 2022. War Pictures.

From February 2022 onward, we are living under the circumstances which our parents and grandparents were constantly, permanently afraid of: ‘ whatever, but it should be a war’ was the mantra of two generations of people in Europe throughout the second part of the XX century, after the end of the Second World War. Hearing it non-stop, without the physical realities of a war, we were somewhat weary of this mantra. We did not understand our grandparents and our parents. We did not know about life under bombardment, and everything else that war brings. It is understandable and even natural psychologically: those who had no personal physical experience of events and phenomena, have actually no clue of it, being honest about it. 

Now we who are not young any longer have to learn how to live when a war is here, within the circumstances of a war. 

Since day one of the Mean War, I am filling a catalogue of specific phenomena appearing in this war of the XXI century. As a historian, who specialised on the Holocaust and post-Holocaust, I do believe in the power and strength of an eye-witness’ documentation. I realise the value of such documents. 

The week 17th of the Mean War demonstrated the problems with and around food safety emphatically. Those problems started earlier in the war, as it usually happened. But due to the geography, logistics, and season, the matters of food safety started to loom now. And it looms world-wide. While strategists and governments are seeing and dealing with these serious global matters, there are also food-safety issues on a personal level for so many people in Ukraine. Those issues are vital, literally, and they are going on, unsolved, for four months now. 

There are documented stories about hungry children, hungry elderly in Ukraine, both in the front zone, and under the occupied by ‘the liberators’ territories. Children and elderly are the most vulnerable of us. So, my attention turns to them first. 

* Hungry children, hungry elderly

There is the story of a six-year old boy from Mariupol. His name is Ilja. Nice, gentle boy. He lost both parents early in the war. His mom went to get some food, was crossing the bridge, and fell victim to heavy bombardment of it along with many other victims. In a couple of days, Ilja’s father, being extremely worried about his wife, decided to get out the basement to look for her. With some sixth feeling, he brought his boy to the neighbours, entrusting them with Ilja’s birth certificate. As if feeling the worst. And the worst happened. The father was also killed on Mariupol street.  Ilja, now an orphan, was going through the ordeal of Mariupol with his family’s neighbours who were looking after him until some volunteers managed to get the boy to safety in Kyiv. He is quiet, this very nice boy, very quiet. But now started to open up, slowly, on what he went through. He said to the people who would like to adopt him and are caring for him, that he ‘was so hungry back in Mariupol that he was eating his friend’s toys’. This is the face of the Mean War. The one of the faces. 

The other is the face of a 72-year old man , also from Mariupol. His name is Pavel. Only he is in such a condition that his relatives, being humane and considerate, decided not to take his pictures. They only took, discreetly, photos of Pavel’s hand, and also his leg, so the world would see that decimation can become a routine in the XXI century in the centre of Europe. But we have  Pavel’s pictures before the war, so we know whom we are talking about.  The dramatic story of Pavel, in the similar way of the tragic story of a small Ilja boy exemplifies torment of so many people in Ukraine. Pavel is one of those who could not evacuate from his home in Mariupol. There are 100 000 people living in the city currently, after all the horror, and they still live in a daily and permanent horror.  For all the time of the war, 72-year old Pavel was at mercy of his neighbours who did share with him all food that they used to have, as much as he did his modest food supply to be shared with them. Then the food ended. And then Pavel has received a humanitarian food parcel from ‘the liberators’. Typically, all canned meat  in that parcel was far beyond its consumption date, and hungry people had to throw it away. It was so bad and smelly. In general, the parcel contained some food supplies which would be scarcely enough for a person for a person for a week, but it was marked by occupiers as ‘humanitarian food relief for one family for a month’. 

The level of stealing in Russia is always dizzying, and it transpires in any direction of life. In this case, it concerns people’s survival, literally. But who cares? Nothing new there. Except that the level of decimation to which ‘the liberators’ has pushed thousands of the people whom Russia calls their neighbours demands an official international investigation of torture of civilian population.      

Pavel has received the food parcel just once. Only once. When his relatives managed to get to him, which is still an extremely difficult task in ‘liberated’ Mariupol, they were shocked to find him in the condition of severe malnutrition. They managed to evacuate the 72-year old man to Ukrainian territory, and now are trying hard to return him to life. As 6-year old Ilya, 72-year old Pavel , after months of hunger, is permanently hungry. His family, which saved him after months of torment, is very worried . They are also naturally shocked by the degree of cruelty towards helpless civilians which ‘the liberators’ have demonstrated to their liberating best. “Nothing can prepare normal people to see so many so decimated human beings which were reduced to such a degree of malnutrition for nothing”, Pavel’s niece who has documented everything that has happened to her uncle and many other people in Mariupol, says in her evidence. One cannot agree more. 

  • Agricultural Looting at Large

Since the beginning of the Mean War, ‘the liberators’ had their eye on rich Ukraine agricultural resources, in all and every aspect of it. What is known today as a serious looming global food crisis due to the blockaded ports in Ukraine, had many more details in its making, and it concerned everything, from chicken to tractors. We all know by now that Russia sends trains full of grain from Ukraine to Syria, it is properly documented, including the satellite pictures. But in the horrors of the Mean war, especially at her initial active stages, public attention was averted from many awful incidents concerning food safety which were  happening in attacked Ukraine regulargy.  Yet in the first month of the Mean War, ‘the liberators’ simply stole an entire strategic 3-year 100 tons grain storage from the then Ukrainian controlled large part of Luhansk region. That storage was sold by the aggressors abroad. 

When our grandparents were telling us about their experience during the Second World War, which was not much, but something that was imprinted into their own conscience, the one of the most terrifying for them stories was how yet before WWII was started, against the background of devastating Stalin-imposed famine in Ukraine, people there, including my grandparents were seeing ‘trains and trains with grain from us ( Ukraine) to Germany which were sending off vitaly needed food at the moment when people literally were dying of hunger in thousands. We all were shocked to see those trains full with our grain leaving from here towards Germany. We could not get it. But then we saw something that we could not understand at all. We saw the trains leaving from here full of soil, our Ukrainian multi-rich soil which the government ordered to get off the ground everywhere here ( in Ukraine) and also sent to Germany, by long cargo trains, days and nights. We were stunned. People were dying here all around of hunger. And not only all our grain, but also all our soil was taken from us and sent to Germany, of all places” – my grandmother and grandfather who were not any dissidents at all, just normal reasonable people, were telling me with such horror in their eyes, such indefinite sadness which went nowhere many decades after the events they witnessed in the late 1930s in their hometown, that their shock was transferred to me, and is still there more than a half of century on. 

And now we are seeing the same thing in its essence again.  State orchestrated and conducted intentional deprivation of food, stealing of food, organising deliberate shortage of food which massively affects children and elderly. There are certainly die-hard traditions in Russia, but is there not enough harm done, with freed hands already? And are there international legal mechanisms for criminal activities to be responded adequately? Just saying. 

Also in the beginning of the war, ‘the liberators’ were keen to steal many agriculture machines in Ukraine, and as a matter of fact, they did manage to move them away from there far inside Russia’s territory. But then, they could not use it, as Ukrainian owners were able to block the stolen machines remotely. Did it stop the process? Of course, not. 

Yet, a week after the beginning of the Mean War, ‘the liberators’ deliberately destroyed a special electrical plant in Chernobayevka in Ukraine. That plant provided electricity to the largest chicken factory in Europe. Additionally, ‘the liberators’ deliberately cut off all logistics supplying feeding to millions of chickens produced and grown up at the factory. People working at the plant tried their best in spreading still alive chicken and eggs among the local population. But that was all that they could do. In the result of that targeted elimination of a colossal amount of food, more than four million chickens died at the plant. Of hunger. Four millions. Of hunger. XXI century. Centre of Europe. Sometimes, one would like to be deprived of news and reports. But our selfish wishes are actually nothing in comparison with the realities of war. Especially the Mean War. 

  • Weaponizing Food, Instrumentalizing Hunger

 According to all experts and strategists, now on, after four months of war,  and  in a 2-3 months perspective, the problem with global food supplies from Ukraine has become the most acute among all other aspects of the unfolding military conflict. Russia does it deliberately, as everyone knows and sees it, shamelessly weaponizing food and instrumentalising hunger. To be short, a state behaves in a gangster style. It has to be publicly clarified that a state-permanent member of the UN Security Council is using food, the basic human right, as a weapon, both political and military. This process which has become acute now, due to the forthcoming harvest season, has started and is unfolding simultaneously with Russian aggression in Ukraine. Yet at the end of March, there were official UN reports urging the ‘liberating’ blockade of as many as 94 cargo ships from leaving different Ukrainian ports with various kinds of food supplies. Three of those ships were bombed.  The situation is worsening progressingly, and there is not only Ukrainian grain which is stolen or blocked. As of today, more than 20 million tons of grain are blocked by Russia from leaving Ukraine for its global destinations. At the same time, Russia, as if out of blue,  has doubled its trade and export of grain during the last three months. 

If any other country, Russia knew precisely well the scope of agricultural products successfully cultivated  in Ukraine, and share of those products in the global food supplies system. When starting their operation, they knew very well that Ukraine is  the third largest exporter of rapeseed in the world, the fourth largest exporter of corn, and the fifth largest exporter of wheat. They also knew that Ukraine supplies more than 40% of the sunflower oil to the world and 16% of maize. This additionally to a critically important export of fertilisers, and many other essential agricultural products, from barley to sugar beet. 

By orchestrating the blockade of Ukrainian ports, ‘the liberators’ are reaching two purposes: blackmailing the international community, and weakening Ukraine quite substantially. Ukraine is largely an agricultural country, thanks to its super-fertile soil, the country uses up to 2/3d of its territory for developing agriculture. Agriculture provides over 10% of Ukraine’s GDP, 20% of the country’s labour forces, and more than 40% of its exports. So, paralysing Ukraine’s agricultural sector is part of ‘the liberating’ strategy. This should be realised. That’s why, ‘the liberators’ are bombing and firing at wheat terminals in Ukraine today, as it was done massively during the week 17th in Mykolaiv and other places, with precision and determingly. In Mykolaiv, the largest wheat terminal was destroyed completely during this week, in a massive fire after precise bombardment. Previously, huge grain storage facilities were also bombed and destroyed in Zaporizhia and other regions. In general, according to the UN, up to 20% of elevators in Ukraine have been deliberately destroyed. It does tell something about Russia’s food safety strategy-2022, does it not? And it also tells what kind of partner that country is. The one which enjoys manipulating the basic, primary need –  food supplies world-wide.  

  • News of the week 17: “ Dear God, please help me to charge my phone, to call my mom”. Dmitry Muratov as the force of Goodness.

The story about a small boy in Ukraine who was praying to God to charge his phone to call his mom was told by the great man, Russian citizen Dmitry Muratov this week in New York. Editor-in -Chief of the Novaya Gazeta ( dysfunctional today), the Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2021, since the beginning of the Mean War Muratov decided to sell his Nobel medal for helping Ukrainian children refugees. I wrote about Dmitry’s noble decision at the time while covering the Day 28th of the Mean War in this project.

American Heritage Auction House has organised the charitable sale of the Muratov’s Nobel medal on this 17th week of the war. The unique lot fetched an unprecedented price of $ 103, 5 million. Heritage House did not take any proceeds, with all the money to be delivered to UNICEF for addressed help to all the countries which are hosting about 6, 5 million Ukrainian children refugees. 

I have known Muratov, his colleagues and his newspaper for over 25 years. I am very glad to know such worthy people, to have some of them as my colleagues, and to enjoy our friendship which lasts so many years. Dmitry always is economical with his words, he is basically an introvertive, thoughtful man who does not brag. He lives his life in an inner way, and does it emphatically decently. 

The Nobel Peace laureate had quite a short speech introducing the auctioning of his medal in New York at the week 17 of the war. He told the audience about the prayer of an Ukrainian boy that Muratove was told about: “Dear God, please help me to charge my phone, to call my mom”. “ I would like to ask each of you today to think about this boy as about your own son” – said Muratov on the Heritage Auction House stage in New York. 

I tried to express Dmitry Muratov’s status in this otherwise desperate situation, and what Dmitry symbolises for me,  in my new artwork: 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Singing in the Rain. Homage to Dmitry Muratov. 2022.

Indeed. I share this request of the great man Dmitry Muratov to the international audience. And I also would like to ask each of you to think about that 6-year Ilja boy from Mariupol who had to eat his friend’s toys, and that 72-year old Pavel who was decimated severely because of hunger there in Mariupol, as of our relatives.  That’s why I am telling their stories.

Week 16: June 8 – 15, 2022. UGLY RESTORATION. The EXPERIENCE of the XXI CENTURY 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Story in Silver. 2022.

*Peter the Great and P the Small

During this, the week 16th of the Mean War, the Kremlin boss has decided to make a coming out from his imperial closet with rather daring self-comparison with Peter the Great as a reasoning for his current war against Ukraine. 

His coming out sent some shockwaves across the spectrum, both inside and outside his country, because of his emphasis on the ‘we-are-not-seizing, we-are-returning’ line stamping his & his team policy of the XXI century restoration. Ugly restoration, as it will be known. Restorations are always defined by the individuals involved, their visions, aims, capacities, and abilities. There is Peter the Great and there is P the Small. 

The shock-waves aroused by the Russia’s leader’s speech during the week 16th of the war are rather surprising as he did not tell anything new. He just confirmed his and his government’s intentions which were the same for 22 years, as it happened, from the time of placing him on the Russian throne by tragically self-centred and catastrophically useless strategists who fell spectacularly in all directions, including their own lives.  Mr P was happy to use the sample of Peter the Great, indisputable in his eyes, for a very happy public proclamation of his intentions. And he does not give a damn about any shock-waves. He rather likes it. 

It reminds him of a golden past in which the outside world was nervous and frightened of the USSR, and the inside world knew its place and was quiet. They do not need anybody’s love. They thrive on everybody’s fear. This is the essential psychological characteristic of the country in which Small P and his team were formed, and which collapse he genuinely regards as the biggest tragedy in his generation’s lives, as he memorably was good enough to be open about before. 

For some people from that country, the biggest tragedy of that generation’s lives was the Chernobyl disaster of the huge nuclear plant building project of which did not have a contingency plan in the case of a malfunction of a nuclear reactor, believe or not. When I learned about it from the Eltsyn-period chairman of Russia’s state  Ecology Security Council, great man and brilliant scientist Academician Alexey Jablokov, I saw, for once again, the very essence of that country which Small P laments about, crystal clearly. It is called mental cannibalism towards one’s own population. And it is exactly what the USSR was about, from the Red Terror, through  Gulag, inhuman persecutions of the dissidents, and dwarfing people , an individual, per design, all 74 years of its existence. And the other populations? Either arranged marriages, Pakistani style,  or military muscle contractions threatening towards those who were regarded as enemies. Easy life it actually was for the Soviet leaders, in that ours – not ours world. 

The Soviet Union did not appear on an empty ground. It appeared as a merciless exercise of the French revolution on a vast territory of the Russian Empire. Imperial mentality, including its communist and post-communist forms, inherited in generations, is not some threat of a character which disappears because of sanctions. Those people who are forming policy in the Kremlin genuinely perceive Ukraine as part of their empire, absolutely real in their world-view. They intend to fix it, whatever it takes. To think otherwise is a bad mistake. 

And they are actually encouraged by the Western and the world’s fractured reaction to their ongoing effort of this ugly restoration. They are happy about Latin America, large countries which do not feel the pain of Ukraine and Europe, but do know how to be friendly with a large and weaponised energy supplier. They are happy with the Middle East and Africa, for the same reason. They are thriving on very well known to them weaknesses, some of them objective, of the US Administration. They are relaxed while their special sparring-partner Turkey does work for their interests within NATO. They are yet more relaxed having Hungary being so useful for them within the EU, and Serbia being ever-loyal outside the EU but still in the centre of Europe. This is not to mention their serenity because of German, French and partially Italian sitting on both chairs-mode of political management, due to all different reasons, but with the same encouraging for Russia result. Plus almost $ 100 billion in their cash-register during only three months of the Mean War as a payment for energy products. What sanctions? It is a joke. 

 Plus, there is a devastating military superiority if not in the quality of soldiers and their commanders, but in pure maths of weapons and quantities. According to the British military experts, Russia has 10-15 higher numbers of soldiers in comparison with Ukraine, 20 times higher number of heavy weapons, and 40 times higher number of ammunition. In front of our eyes, Ukraine, being attacked unprovokedly, is losing their defenders in very large quantities, daily. This ugly restoration of the phantom of the Russian empire in the XXI century is a devastating Mean war in every sense for Ukraine. 

And against this background, Pope Francis who cheered the Kremlin again during the Week 16 of the war by his statement confirming his forthcoming meeting in September with the patriarch Kirill, the staunch supporter of the P’s restoration,  has the nerve to declare that ‘there are no bad guys and good guys’ in this war. Excuse me?

Anybody wonders why Small P is in such a sustainably cheerful mood from the week 16 of the war onward? He would be happy to explain: it all because of Peter the Great, you know. Who would dare to disagree with such mighty argumentation?

  • In the Russian Duma’s Working Diary: forthcoming denunciation of Russia’s recognition of sovereignty of Estonia and Latvia, plus fixing ‘an illegal Ukraine’s leaving the USSR’

And that’s why, in the progressing Ugly Restoration process, the same Russian Duma MP who was delegated to made the trick the previous week of introducing the bill of denunciation of Russia’s recognition of independence of Lithuania back in 1991, now, during the Week 16, went further on: he shared with us their plans ‘to work out the scheme’ ( on Lithuania, as there is an emergency due to Kaliningrad, as he mentioned) , and then to proceed with the same ‘mechanism of denunciation of recognition of independence of Estonia and Latvia, as well as recognition of Ukraine’s illegal leave of the USSR’. After three and a half months of Mean War, they are feeling confident enough now to declare their aims openly.   NATO? NATO who? Turkey’s playground? 

  • Pope and Patriarch to meet up in Kazakhstan 

So, Small P is all smiles. His throne stands on the energy-billions, his clerks are preparing, in a full speed, juridical finalising of annexation of the largest region of Ukraine, Kherson region, as a part of new Russia’s Southern Region, along with other seized territories of Ukraine, in what is planned as a new subject of  Russian state, and the head of his church which is traditionally extremely close to the state and its apparatus, is about to have a  high-profile brotherly meeting with a Pope in Kazakhstan, the country which he has quite successfully and briskly subdued just before he started the Mean War. The unprecedented meeting between the Pope Francis and patriarch Kirill in Kazakhstan in September was reportedly discussed by Mr P with recently ousted long-time Kazakh leader Mr Nazarbayev who  flew to Moscow to discuss a couple of delicate things with the current substitute of Peter the Great in the Kremlin.  

* News of the week: damping the corpses in Mariupol

Against the background of progressing Ugly Restoration, there is the news of the week, the 16th Week of the Mean War: according to the Ukraine officials, the Russians soldiers and those dispatched to clean out the rubbled streets of Mariupol, are proceeding with typical sickening efficiency: they are throwing the rubble by excavators throwing alongside all and every corpses which are still in abundance under the bombed houses all over Mariupol. This rubble filled with human remnants in a massive quantity indiscriminately thrown away by ‘the liberators’ and those brought in to clean destroyed Mariupol. 

Just one fact tells everything about this country, their attitude to life, to people, to the normal moral values. It screams it out, smiles Small P during his public escapades or not.  It is the same mental cannibalism which was there, at least in our memory. This is the country which conducts an Ugly Restoration today. And we all should realise whom we are facing and whom we are dealing with. Whom we ‘should not humiliate’ in palpable fears of Mess Macron. To whom we ‘should find a proper place in the world’ in the stunning cynicism of 99-year old  champion of cynicism Mr Kissinger, even by his own standards. And, yes, I hope that in September, in sunny Kazakhstan, at least some of Italian journalists from the Pope’s pool would be humane enough to ask him about ‘good and bad guys’ having in hand a large print of the photograph from the street of Mariupol today on which Russian excavator throws away a human remnants, as a part of a demolished street rubble. I’m waiting for the Pope’s answer to that. He is supposed to be an authority on Good and Evil, no?

Week 15: June 1 – June 8, 2022. Shadows In the Limelight

Inna Rogatchi (C). Philosophy in Making. Concepts series. 2022.

The limelight of the week 15th  of the Mean War went on in Berlin, at the well-known Berliner Ensemble theatre. One and a half-hour public self-justification by recent Chancellor of Germany frau Merkel about many things regarding her actions, or her non-actions, in connection with the Mean War and her buddy in the Kremlin. 

So one rules one’s big and mighty country for sixteen years, which is compatible with four terms in the US President office, or three terms of the President of France. It is an epoch for a country’s influence on the world stage. From that perspective, the American Constitution is much healthier than the German one, as it forbids such non-stop rule-ship for the same person in the highest office. 

One is repeatedly called the most powerful woman in the world, and one starts to believe it. Or one never doubted it, perhaps?  During those sixteen years, one gets the closest among all the world’s leaders to the man in the Kremlin and chooses to provide him and his country a mind-blowing economic security, but what’s far more important, effectively throws one’s own country, with many more countries affected because of pure geography, under the Kremlin feet. 

Only, there is no such thing as pure geography, and it never was one. A person at the top office of the country which is a major European player is expected to know that. But who cares, if the Nord Stream is so cheap and comfy? One is seemingly convinced that her carrot-policy for the Kremlin bears is working, and that it is the only correct policy one can apply. And oh yes, Russia and its leader should not be isolated, under any circumstances. Any. 

One is a master of the highest office. Her party is astoundingly servile towards her, and she rules in a true DDR style, just a bit covered with a Western clothes, metaphorically so. Literally it is an old , good DDR dreadful fashion ever.  

Anyway, then one liberates herself from politics on her own schedule, which is  a bit premature from her friend’s in the Kremlin point  of view, because there were just a few  metres for his Nord Stream-2 getting final licences and assuring it to start to operate. Why did she go? Her friend in the Kremlin was very, very frustrated. She did not explain herself. She took a pause, like in a Schiller’s drama. Now we know, first-hand: she did not like to be forced to go as the result of  her party losing elections. As an L’Imperatrice largesse, she had an absolute priority to depart the scene on her own calling.  

The man in Sochi with very brief visits to his largely empty giant office in the Kremlin did not take it well. From his self-made Emperor’s point of view, it was an outrageous let down. He was so patient all previous eight years with that irritating Ukraine, all for the sake of dearest to him, personally, Nord Stream-2. And now what?.. I’ll show you what, the man confronted the world from his Kremlin office on February 23d, 2022. And he did.  

And what did the most powerful woman in the world do in the face of the barbarian, unprovoked aggression? She was reading a thick books in her retreat, she serenely declares now, three and a half months into the Mean War.  From this first after the beginning of the Mean War interview of the former long-term Chancellor of Germany Mme Merkel, we have learned that she is ‘very happy’ in her retirement, and were shared by serene-her about her whereabouts in her after-office time. We also become privy to the stubborn self-justification of Merkel’s leisure trip to Florence at the moment of the horror of Bucha, having been invited to visit Bucha personally by president Zelensky. She stubbornly reminded the audience that she was not a Chancellor  any longer at the time of the Bucha massacre, and that that Italian trip was essential to her in the process of dislocating from politics.  Bloody incredible, to be extremely polite. 

Power corrupts. Big power corrupts morally, most of the time. The degree of the inner arrogance demonstrated by Mme Merkel on the stage of the Berliner Ensemble theatre in early June 2022 was self-revealing. Who actually cares on her inner needs in a process of dislocating from politics at the time of the terrible war in the middle of Europe, except some German journalists who have made their almost-eternal Mme Chancellor their sole subject-matter, and some part of the German public who affiliates themselves with her, largely because she occupied the top office for so long, and brought that so cheap gas from you-know-where, to her country to prosper to the huge proportion. At what price? Well, don’t be so harsh. 

On the record: the most powerful woman in the world, a leader of a key-country during 16 years, the international public figure who is personally responsible politically, economically, morally ( pardon) for 16 years of appeasing the Kremlin boss disproportionately, for whatever reason, did not utter a word during three and a half months of the Mean War, in a deafening defeat of a term ‘morality’.  In cases like that, reason does not matter. Deed does. Or absence of deed. Stand does. Or absence of stand. It is just that an absence of stand is pretty loudly speaking stand, anyway.

Mme Merkel did make a very brief note on terrible, terrible war and her solidarity with Ukraine just once, three and half months into the Hell, a day before her justify-myself show staged at the Berliner Ensemble.  By her recent appearance of a boringly typical teflon kind of a politician, Mme Merkel has evoked some observations into her life and career. 

It is not only the previous 16 years in the Chancellor’s chair that prompted such velvet-gloved arrogance. It is all the previous life of the person who was brought to that chair in that scheme of the century, her views, her convictions, her behaviour, and the origin of it all that has made a person, don’t mention, a woman, such a 200% teflon-proved. 

Yes, she said some of the politically correct phrases with regard to the Mean War, three and half months from its beginning, and the public in the Berlin theatre hall bursted into the ovation, in the same servile way like her party used to revere  Mme Chancellor in a typical German mode of behaviour of recognition of a person in a position.  

In her self-justifying show, Merkel also stamped out quite a telling sentence. Perhaps, she does not realise how nakedly telling it is. Refusing to take even a part of blame for tirelessly making for years the most comfortable conditions for her buddy in the Kremlin, Mme Merkel insisted: “And diplomacy was not wrong if it does not succeed”. End of quote. 

Those DDR pioneers, those DDR komsomol leaders ( and the leader she was against all her efforts to deny it), they organically, genuinely do not understand that the postulate about diplomacy as about the art of possible means that if diplomacy does not succeed, it is not a diplomacy. It is an effort, an intention, not a conducted act of achieving a result. Perhaps, they had to add some Kant’s logic mini-course in that Karl Marx University in the DDR Leipzig, the Mme Merkel’s alma-mater. It would help. But Kant was not popular in those years in the DDR, as he was not in the USSR. Very much to the contrary. 

I have nothing to apologise for” – the most powerful woman in the world has stated now in that deeply DDR-sed defiance of intentionally blind and deaf arrogant power-addicted mannequins, so well known to everyone who lived through those realities. 

This defiance and all that shameful show at the Berliner Ensemble stage   looked exactly as the same  in its character shameless ongoing self-justifications by another German hero of the Kremlin friendship, another former Chancellor, Herr Schroeder.

When two of the recent German Chancellors are behaving the way they are, with all the baggage of their dubious close friendships with the Kremlin boss,  it is not a random case of individuals. It is a phenomenon which has marked the Mean War. This behaviour has marked the terrible unjustifiable aggression with utter shame resulting from the convictions and actions of those self-justifying cold power-hungry hypocrites. 

To refresh our memory, it was Mme Merkel who as recently, as in November 2019 reviewed the realities of life in the DDR in a stunning phrase: “ Life in the DDR was sometimes almost comfortable in a certain way, because there were some things one simply couldn’t influence”. 

I do not know whom she meant as her audience for this rubbish, putting it diplomatically, but for anyone who lived through the DDR and any other totalitarianism of the time, this note of ‘a comfortability’, with whatever ironic connotation, immediately sends a definite signal of the belonging of the person who says it to the certain part of totalitarian system, the part that benefited from it, the part which has been morally corrupt and which blossomed being on the wrong side.  And now these people have the nerve to exercise public self-justifications of various sorts. This is basically what former German Chancellors are busy with during at their retirement. 

This part of the society were the DDR privileged ones, whose family enjoyed a Soviet-made luxury Volga car, and one more car,  in the empire of ‘an equal poverty’ which the DDR was. That family has become so unbelievably lucky after Mme Merkel’s papa, a clergyman, all of the sudden moved with his family from the Western to Eastern Germany under the pretext of receiving a parish. Extremely tight connections of Mme Merkel’s father with the Soviet regime and the KGB, and his many decades-long activities originated from that relationship  is an established and well documented fact. It certainly has placed the life of his family and its members  in a special dimension. 

Of course, it is so nice when one ‘cannot influence’ one’s year of a post-graduation in the Moscow University, one’s special training for a several months in Rostov and Donetsk in the 1970s – what on earth they were training that daughter of the red pastor  for in those places,  during those months there? Language-courses, as it is officially claimed? For the person who was the best in her class in Russian? Sure thing. This is not even to start to remember and reconstruct the way to power which was orchestrated and paved for that person in the crazy time when her future friend in the Kremlin was hysterically nervous in Dresden burning all and every document in his KGB station there and frantically calling to the HQ at home, in vain. 

They all were similarly nervous at the time, in Moscow too. Foreign correspondents were offered any file from the KGB archives, including operative ones, meaning for the active agents, for a few thousands dollars. The most expensive ones fetched just $ 10 000. There was a vivid trade period, indeed. At the time, many KGB officers who were just yesterday ever arrogant mini power-houses have reduced themselves to nervous drinking. Just as Russian deputy secretary of the Security Council Mr Medvedev who will be remembered for his sole function of keeping the presidential seat warm for his boss during a random term, does, reportedly, nowadays. With a good reason. 

So, at the Berliner Ensemble theatre, during the week 15th of the Mean War, the limelight of the Merkel show featured only one thing: shadows. There were shadows of conscience, shadows of compassion, shadows of empathy, shadows of common sense. And most importantly, because of its long-lasting effect, shadows of decency. All these shadows were in an abundance. And nothing more had a presence at that stage. This is what has marked the 15th week of the Mean War to me. 

Additionally to that Shadows-in-the-Limelight disgusting show, the 15th week of the Mean War ended with hilarious news from that hilarious parliament of Russian Federation where they have registered a bill introduced by one of the United Russia party MP, on denunciation of the recognition by the same body the independence of Lithuania back in 1991.  Thus, they argue, the membership of Lithuania in NATO becomes illegitimate. 

One wonders, what took them so long for this genius move? Lithuania irritates them not only because they do not practise shadow-kind of politics a’la Merkel. But this is not the matter. The matter is Kaliningrad which Russia sees as their most important strategic power-point in the Baltic and North European region. The introduction of this bill and everything that will follow from it is the beginning for their proactive moves in that direction. The man in the Kremlin and the team behind the attack against Ukraine have been obviously emboldened by the shadow-theatre performances of the leaders of the key-countries of the West. They are on the offensive now. They have their drive. And the Kaliningrad matter might rise as another acute international conflict in the foreseeable future. 

The most astounding phenomenon of this awful Mean War is it showed us in a tangible close-up detail that people do not learn even from the most terrible lessons of the recent enough past. It seems to be  a desperate defect of our human nature in general. 

During Week 15 of the war,  there was another crucial moment which went overseen, for some reason. Anticipation of  summer vacation, perhaps? During nightly attacks, one of Russian missiles flew  critically close to the huge Juzhnaja nuclear power plant in Ukraine. There is all recorded documentation of the incident. After three and a half months of the war, the international public is so accustomed to military incidents there that this hugely important fact went practically unnoticed. Just imagine what could have happened because of this unbelievable clumsiness of Russian troops and their military machine. Was the Kremlin reprimanded for factually risking and being very close to the second Chernobyl would be made in the result of a military crime? You know the answer. 

The Week 15th in its different aspects has reminded us of the truism which is a daily reality for millions of people in Ukraine who do not feel very encouraged by how we, the civilised West, are handling this tragedy: War is a war is a war. Mean War is mean and more mean. In all and every sense of it. And – we are nodding to that. That is the problem.

Week 14: May 25 – June 1, 2022

INSIDE A VICIOUS CIRCLE

Inna Rogatchi (C). Conversation. 2020.

Since the beginning of the Mean War in February 2022, a day after another, people who were trying to apply existing norms and regulations of the international law in order to rebuke the aggressor, were repeatedly bumping their heads into the wall. The existing norms did not work in the situation when the state-permanent member of the UN Security Council should be challenged as an aggressor. The norms did not work when the head of the aggressor state, who is the Highest Commander of the country’s military, is above a law in international practice does not matter how hideous crime his army commits.  The norms did not work when any international court cannot proceed against a country-aggressor because that country simply does not recognise any court’s jurisdiction. 

Since the first week of the war when international lawyers and experts started to work on a vast number of acute issues prompted by the Mean War, after thorough analysing of the existing international law norms, regulations and stipulations, a dead-lock reality prevailed. Within the framework of the existing international system and the legal basis of its functioning, to challenge Russia effectively has become a real-life mission impossible. 

We can organise as many investigative groups as possible, and they definitely collect evidence of the aggressor’s crime in Ukraine during the Mean War, but what will be the outcome of this vast material? It is a completely open question even when one tries to keep optimistic and determined. 

Unlikely during the Balkan war in the 1990s, the UN and especially its Security Council is completely paralysed now, during the Mean War in Ukraine 30 years later. Although due to the collapse of the USSR, Russia was a weak link at the time of the Balkan war, and that sole factor allowed the West to act then, P-administration always felt the pain of that temporary weakness, and still feels it, actually. Their inability to counter West to prevent action in the Balkans in the 1990s still haunts the Kremlin and under-Kremlin a lot still today. They do not like to be or to look weak. We know that. So, with the current situation, there is a zero chance for any decisive move within or from the UN Security Council due to the simple fact of Russia being a permanent member of it. And there is no way to change it within the legal framework of the main political body in the world. Period. 

We all know that the UN in the form in which it exists was established following the results of the Second World War, a terrible, devastating cataclysm which left the world bleeding. Since that time, 77 years have passed, three quarters of a century. And we found ourselves inside a vicious circle – as with regard to the UN, as with regard to all international courts, as with regard to essential international bodies, from NATO to UNESCO. In that vicious circle, the need for reforming the structure and legal principles of the functioning of those bodies is crystal clear – against the fact that with some of the members who are more members than a member, following George Orwell’s logic, reform, change and adjustment to dramatically changed realities is impossible. 

In this dead-lock reality, North Korea is leading the UN Conference on Disarmament for a month of June 2022 – and this absolute shocking and sheer absurd-like fact is avoided by all international media in a collective real-politic practice at its worst, because once it is reported, the public would scream – yes, we will – and that is something that is regarded by  both mainstream media and the governing bodies as ‘unnecessary’ at the time of the Mean War. But this fact, which is beyond Orwell’s wildest dreams, is true. It is happening in Geneva today. This is how the UN looks today. Looks only. Because with North Korea chairing the Conference of Disarmament, it is impossible to use adjective ‘ functions’.  It is just hilarious paralysis of will. And it is a straightforward insult to common sense. Or what’s left of it.  

This dead-lock is spread widely in the reality in which we currently are not lucky to have any Churchill or Havel among the world leaders who would be either robust and inventive as Sir Churchill was, or deeply and uncompromisingly moral as Vaclav Havel was. Instead, we are enjoying clerc-leader like Mess Macron is, or a marginal bully like Orban – who did manage to hold hostage the entire European Union, Ukraine or not.  The shortage of brilliant, unorthodox, strong-willed, responsible, and consciousness-blessed leadership in the world today, especially in the key-players countries,  is no less a problem than the current impossibility to reform the UN. 

And then, the voting. When a veto right was introduced,  not only at the UN Security Council, but also in the NATO and then in the EU, the main reasoning of that bizarre way of handling world’s politics was promoted and insisted to be ‘an efficient way versus ‘dark behind-the-scenes manipulations for obtaining a dodged majority in the cases of an open voting’. Well, in any case and any practice, veto case never had and has nothing to do with democracy, shadow or open one.  Sometimes it is handy when the US helps this way to its less powerful allies. But perhaps the US and allies working hard could collect the direct majority for the good and important causes. 

And now, we are witnessing a daily absurdity, but not on a stage, in a Bekket or alike play, but in real life. How can one moody NATO member as Turkey dictate their will to the rest of the 27 member-states, and to jeopardise the entire European security on the matter of acceptance into the alliance Finland and Sweden? How can one cunning and greedy member as Hungary repeatedly undermine the will to resist the Russian aggression in the centre of Europe against the understanding and intentions of the rest 27 member-states of the EU? Who can explain the logic and common sense of those arrogant manipulations to an average person? To the people? Not to mention the luxury of fairness. 

So, 77 years after establishing the UN, and 73 years after establishing NATO, has anyone thought that those two global institutions should be updated, to make them adequate for the new reality? And as  for 65 years after the establishment of the EU, has anyone thought of adjusting its rule to correspond to real needs, and of preventing hundreds of millions from becoming a hostage of few? 

As nothing of this is happening despite daily horrors of the Mean War in Ukraine, there is no surprise in a dramatic and qualified change of mood of two leaders, the one who leads the attacked country, and the other who has decided that he rules the world. This week, the 14th week of the Mean War, did show us that new look in the president Volodymyr Zelensky’s eyes. The look of the strong person who realised, recently enough, that he will not be helped sufficiently does not matter how right is his cause. The President of Ukraine now faces his high top visitors with this look on his face, and this look is unmistakable. He realised that he and his country will not be helped to the degree they did hope for. It is a big-scale drama unfolding in front of us. 

At the same time, there is first-hand knowledge from inside the Kremlin telling that ‘for the first time during all this time from the beginning of the war, the president P not only pretends to be content, but he is content’. No wonder, he has all reasons to be, not pretend, to be content: the latest military maps by the independent sources are showing us that Russia today controls 20 % of the Ukrainian territory, this is against 7% before the Mean War started, which territory-size wise is comparable with almost entire Italy, or a half of Britain. P’s loyal ally Orban successfully prevents all efforts to sanction Russia in the way the sanctions will really work. P’s another cunning partner from Turkey has effectively blocked Finland and Sweden from joining NATO with an incredible ease. It also became evident on the week 14th, or rather it  became publicly known existed previously, yet before the Mean War, understanding regarding the disposition of all major EU member-states not to accept Ukraine as the EU member on a fast-track. 

To translate: there is not much that we, the West, can really do for Ukraine military-wise, there is practically very little and indecisive of what can be done for Ukraine politically. All this with regard to the country which has been extremely brutally attacked and destroyed. 

Such a bleak situation leaves us, the people, with the only way to help to Ukrainians: to support them with all kinds of reliefs, to support them at all levels, and this is what many of us do. But the reality is that because the demand is truly high and the time of this multiplied demand is prolonged so seriously, beyond three months non-stop, the enthusiasm and resources that many people had are dwindling. This is an inevitable situation, and anyone who is long enough in philanthropy would know about this sad effect. But at least on this very important path which is also the path of our all’ empathy, and where we are independent in what we do, many of us are good enough to continue to help those in need. And Ukraine and its people are in utter and actually growing need as long as the Mean War is still on. 

This week  has also demonstrated one quite telling feature. I am talking about readers’ preferences in Russia. This huge country where people were traditionally book-lovers ( I am not sure about it any longer, actually), and where a  book was our only real treasure for millions ( this I know for sure is a relic), suddenly have changed their reading preferences. The fresh data came from the Russian nation-wide statistics of book-sellers. When the Mean War broke out, the readers’ mood was melancholic and the most popular author was Remarque, not surprisingly. His novels were always popular in Russia, and it was a known niche for the depressed intelligenzia who love Remarque in general, and twice so when it rains around. But, remarkably,  a couple of months into the Mean War, the absolute champion among the books bought in Russia, nation-wide is Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. 

To me, it is a very telling fact of book-selling news. In my opinion, Frankl is perhaps most important literally voice on the Holocaust, and being a great psychologist, he speaks about the most innermost things for a human being at the time of mocking inhumanity. The recent book-selling survey in Russia also was probing the reasons for the readers’ preferences. Why did people buy the books on the top of the sales list? – was a question. In the case of buying Frankl’s book which has become the new Number One bestseller all-over Russia, the answer was: ‘To learn how to survive in the extreme circumstances ( of a concentration camp)’. 

I found it incredible. When I was reading and re-reading Frankl, although like Aharon Appelfeld and Elie Wiesel’s books, Victor Frankl’s book does not need a re-read, because it is so graphic in the best and deepest meaning of the word that it gets into one’s soul, engraves and stays there for good, my main thought and incredible, driven be a genetically memory motivation was to understand, to see what had happened, what had been done, what had been committed against human beings, a human being. Not how to survive Hell. Because one does not. The same as all those three giants of man were driven by their accumulated, heroic, quiet, very quiet empathy towards the other human beings who has become the objects of unspeakable crimes, not focusing that much on the course of surviving in a Nazi jungle. As Frankl in an incredible, smashing, heart-stopping quiet honesty writes in his great, unique book: “the best ones died first”.  

Victor Frankl’s book is not about ‘surviving in extreme conditions’, as one reads in semi-bewilderment in the current Russian book-sellers survey. It is about the meaning of life and the core of humanity. Or absence of it.  This self-centering even of the good part of the Russian reading public has got me off-guard, I must confess. 

And then, another question popped into my head and is still there, swirling from inside: why not did they read Victor Frankl before? If they would, perhaps, their society would be different. Just perhaps.

To counterweight it, the artwork for this chapter of the Week 14th of the Mean War, was recently selected for the forthcoming international exhibition in Europe. One of our close friends in Moscow was electrified when he saw it. He wrote me immediately: “But Inna, this work, with this hand, is so very tragic’. The work was not created as a tragic manifest. It was created as a metaphor of time and human emotions unaffected by it. But today, some people in Russia are perceiving this kind of work with their own nerves and conscience, I hope, nude. So there are people who are getting the things right there. I am so glad they are.

Week 13: May 18 – 25, 2022

REALITY-CHECK AFTER THE FIRST THREE MONTHS OF THE MEAN WAR

Michael Rogatchi (C). Childhood’s Sun. Oil on cardboard. 73 x 52 cm. 1995. Private collection. Finland.

Gist of the Week: Three Months of Resistance  & ‘Sister-City’ Mariupol

People are somewhat mesmerised by numbers. And in this historical and organic dependability, number three is one of the staples among the maths world. There are many worthy  and interesting explanations to that, but let’s leave it to the more serene times. This week, the thirteen week’s of the Mean War, the main focus for a global public is that it marks the three months since the beginning of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The emotional gist of the focus is an amalgam of surprise and pride.  Almost no one in the world expected Ukrainians to resist their brutal neighbour so successfully for so long. Meaning: the world did not know Ukrainians well. The old truism that a war prompts the extremes of good and bad in people proved to be correct in front of our eyes. We saw among Ukrainian people more enforced  humanity and courage than we could remember we saw in real life for many decades. And we also saw among their largely barbarian neighbours the degree of savagery which is hardly imaginable. Just think about the documented facts stated by the Ukrainian officials. There are daily documented facts from the zone beyond Hell. With an extra-capital Z.

In their arrogance extraordinaire, Russian authorities are reaching next lows almost daily during the Mean War. We’ve got a flurry of letters and messages from our friends from St Petersburg, or those who were living there and left. All those messages are furious. People have not enough air to breathe upon hearing the news about the decision of the Administration of St Petersburg and its current governor ‘to establish a new sister city for St Petersburg – Mariupol’.  Official Russian main-stream  media are also mentioned, rather in a servile way, their favourite style, the fact that ‘Mariupol in fact was called Zdanov, for over 40 years, from 1948 to 1989”. In fact. For those who are luckily innocent with regard to Soviet history, Zhdanov was a notorious leader of the Soviet Leningrad who shamed himself by living in a diabolic luxury, on a strong diet of champagne and oranges, while people in the city were sometimes eating each other, due to the disastrous famine through the 900-days-long blockade of the city during WWII. To call the fact that Mariupol was named after that monster until 1989 – implying that it  ‘practically is our city’ – is as macabre as the Russian propaganda gets. 

But not only that made our friends and us ballistic. So, the receipt is somewhat inventive: first, to prepare a city for its future ‘sisterhood’ status with its Russian counterpart. The best way of doing it is bombing. 

A delicate flavour of true ‘sisterhood’ is added by total destruction, intentional famine, annihilation of the civil population in huge-quantities, and erasing a big and blossoming city down to earth. 

A special notes of sister-like love are brought by innumerable mass graves for the civil population of the candidate for a sister-city, forced migration, filtration camps, re-education camps, copycatting the Chinese models,  and forced relocation of tens of thousands of people from the southern marine city to Siberia and Russian Far East. 

A piquant taste is achieved by keeping a three-months harsh inhuman  blockade of a resisting force of the side which will be converted into a sisterhood, with total refusal of any medical help to hundreds of severely wounded soldiers. What Geneva Convention? Never heard of it, the same as Stalin never did. 

These morons have guts to declare their grab of Mariupol in the disguise of a sister-city scheme under the St Petersburg Administration power. They do not care how it looks and what people, including their own ones, think about it. This is typical of that arrogant clique of mediocres that rules that country. 

Honestly,  I do not know any other society in the world except the North Korean one and Chinese, perhaps, that would allow their elite to rule the way they are doing it, and to be so massively indifferent about it. When I mentioned it to my husband, his immediate reaction was: “I am not that sure about Chinese, actually”.

Speaking of numbers, one is enough to illustrate the abilities of the Russian ‘liberators’: the consensus among military experts is that the losses of the Russian army during the first three months of the war are comparable with the losses of the Soviet army during their entire campaign in Afghanistan, all nine years of it. 

A Fear of the Rotten Fish 

This week 13 of the Mean War demonstrated a telling phenomenon which now accelerates among the Russian leadership starting from the top, as usually is the case there. My mom was an expert of Russian folklore, in particular, on its proverbs and saying ( that’s why I am a bit over-resistant to that part of that heritage, having had a bit too much of it in my childhood, the same as with Tchaikovsky). Among those proverbs, there is the well-known one “A fish starts to rot from its head’. I was always curious: how come? It is possible only for a gutted fish, because according to biological processes, a fish rots from its stomach, due to misbehaving intestines. 

So, I was facing the dilemma in my childhood on syllogisms of proverbs. My expert mom explained to me that this very proverb, as many, actually, is pan-national and that it is believed to have originated by Plutarch. As a figure of speech, so to say. A metaphor. Later on, after reading the immortal Saltykov-Schedrin who knew his people very well, being all his life a senior official in the Russian Empire, up to a vice-governor, twice, I realised that the Plutarch metaphor in the realities of Russia was quasi-real. It always rots from the top there. Especially if the rot concerns and translates into fear, anxiety, and phobia. 

The week 13 of the Mean War demonstrated that Russia’s leadership is getting obsessively nervous with and over Poland. Their ‘love’ for Poland is well-known, both historically and currently. It is known the same well as their obsession with their feelings towards Poland, also both historically and at the present moment. If Poland’s population size were the size of Estonian,  it would ease the Russian leadership’s spasms of anxiety.  But it is not. If Poland’s history would be reaching the blankness of unpopulated areas of Antarctica, Russian leadership would relax. But it isn’t either. If Polish intellect and guts, accumulated throughout extremely dramatic history, not to mention their wit and finesse, would not exist, Russian leadership might even start to like them, for a bit. But Poles are not lucky to be liked by the Russian leadership to any degree. Very much to the opposite. 

There is a known psychological phenomenon of accelerated hatred: when a low-life character succeeds in a mean act, instead of becoming satisfied, he continues to hate the subject of his meanness. For that very Freudian reason, Poland is doomed to be hated by Russia for good. But now, the Russian weak and not that bright leadership did show, inadvertently, many growing signs of their fear, or at least serious, deep concern over Poland and the role of this large and developed country in the war and post-war Ukraine and Europe. 

Infamous speaker madame of the Russian Foreign Ministry slightly hysterically stated that president Zelensky would legitimise ‘de-facto capture of Ukraine by Poland’. The next day, the only left friend of Mr P Mr Lukashenka was also uncharacteristically agitated with regard to the current ‘destructive role of that aggressive Poland, you know’ airing their common nervousness in a tet-a-tet meeting.  “We are extremely worried about the possibility of capturing Western and other parts of Ukraine ( you-know-by-whom)” – Lukashenka was obviously agitated, echoing the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement a day before. ‘ And in general, the behaviour of ( Polish president) Duda during his recent visit to Ukraine is beyond my grasp, you know”. Mr P knew, nodding solemnly. It was beyond his grasp, too. How come, somebody in a capacity of a president comes to that U-country, still alive and functioning, goes straight to their parliament which dares to conduct a normal working schedule at the time when we are shelling that U-place daily, and be so open about what does he and his country thinks about us. Us! Of course, it is beyond their grasp. 

The next day, the character who was keeping the presidential seat for his boss P for one term and who is rewarded for them to be kept in power on whatever meaningless position comrade Medvedev went with open insults against the Polish leadership calling them ‘crazy Polish leaders who who are bargaining ( with their support of Ukraine) in order to get the for the Western ( Ukraine) territories’. 

They are very nervous, almost obsessed, on the top of the Russian power pyramid on the Polish factor: the country’s attitude towards the Mean War, the openness of its attitude, the fact that Poland unlikely many European countries including big and mighty ones does not afraid of Russia, not for a bit, the all multi-layered help and support that Poland consistently provides to attacked Ukraine. They are nervous observing a qualified change, with serious and far-reaching consequences in Ukrainian – Polish bilateral relationship. They become hysterical about the practical outcome of this change, special bilateral friendly neighbouring agreement, such measures as mutual coordination and ease of proceeding at the Ukrainian and Polish customs all over the two countries’ borders, and special status for Polish citizens that now Ukraine will implement equalling them in all the rights, statuses, benefits and possibilities with Ukrainian citizens, the gesture of gratitude which the president Zelensky applied by his executive order to the Poles who did and are behave so vitally towards the Ukrainians in that tragedy. 

If there is one thing which Russian leadership does not get genuinely in applied politics, it is the nobility. It simply never existed in Russian state policy. So when something noble happens in politics, they instantly start to look at that with suspicion and try to discover ‘a real plot’ behind it. This is exactly what they all from that rotten head down to the rest of the fish’s body are busy with at the moment, with regard to Poland and Ukraine, during and after the war. Given the fact that Lithuania, yet another country which irritates Moscow very much over their stand for Ukraine, firm, loud and consistent, is naturally joining Poland in their all-over active support of Ukraine, power bosses in Moscow plus their sole friend Lukashenka  are getting very upset. Especially those of them who have heard some of history, even in their heavily edited version of it. Let them be. They ought their fear in a full measure.  

To overcome their fear and anxiety, the Russian state decided to invest 2,6 million euro into the software of the new mass electronic game called Smuta, Polish Turmoil. Until now, there was no electronic game on the period in Russia, and with a very good reason: in the result of the non-stop wars occurred there between them and Poles during the 20 years in the end of the XVI -beginning of the XVII century, with later involvement of Sweden, Russia was defeated a big way, losing a lots of territories including Smolensk and Karelia, and accesses to the Baltic Sea and Finnish Gulf. In general, the state funding of the electronic game industry, and specific games was unprecedented in Russia until now. But it seems that from now on, even electronic games will be working in a controlled ideological way. And of course, it is such a relief, to change the history, even if in the game, and to win over those awful Poles, even back to the events of the XVI century. 2,6 million euros is such a peanut for this  pleasure. I have a strong feeling that papa Freud is very close to his next reincarnation, and in this new life, his native language will be Russian. 

A Secret to be Zelensky

During the Week 13 of the Mean War, the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky was busy as usual, and a bit more. During just one week, additionally to his round o’clock involvement into the matters of war and his daily video appearances, he conducted the meetings with the chairpersons of the both Houses of the Irish Parliament, prime minister of Portugal, hosted the president of Poland Andrzej Duda on his important state visit, participated in a high-level meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs of the Western countries at the US military base in the German Ramstein, had important appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and also appeared in a long interview along with his wife, the first lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenskaya broadcast to mark the third year of his presidentship. Such a program would fit a month-long activity for a robust head of state.  But president Zelensky amazes the world with his capacity to work in a superman way. What is his secret? 

This man entered politics just three years ago without any political, bureaucratic, administrative experience. For three months now, he is under crushing pressure of devastating reality. He and his family in all generations are in high and present danger around o’clock. He was in an utmost urgent need to to put his hands on many vital for the surviving and functioning of  his country matters which were completely alien to him all his previous life, military, security, logistics in mega-scale, international relations on the very top and edge of the world power, all kinds of safety, from food to nuclear, or in a reverse order, not to speak about the ocean of human suffering and a vast subject known as an anatomy  of catastrophes. How can a person whose only real pre-existing life experience had to do with show business can get into that all being meticulously and assuredly active daily in superb international information and communication activities? What does it take, and what that 44-year old man possesses that made this amazing transformation into a mature, able and globally respected leader of the nation in war possible?  

President Zelensky’s inner strength was noticeable on his first appearance on day one of the Mean War. There is something in this young enough man, the inner vigour of his character that his voters in Ukraine, over 70% of them, were feeling at the intuitive level, but the rest of the world had no idea about. But of course, such ability is not enough to make a person that reliable in a capacity of a president of a large country under merciless attack. So what is that that has made a strong and inspiring leader out of a successful, problems-free actor and producer? 

Unlike many other televised appearances of so many that president Zelensky conducts during the last three months, one of them stays apart. It is over an hour long interview  with his wife for the Ukrainian people that both Volodymyr and Olena Zelenskies gave during this week 13. In that pre-recorded interview, in the presence of his wife, whom ( and the children, and the parents) he did not see for two and half months, Volodymyr Zelensky behaves in a different way from a statesman during a military emergency. What I saw in that long interview was a good person. Not an actor. A good person. You always know one when you see him. And this was the most important message to me because it concerns everything, and it lasts. 

In my view, there are also two other key-components to crack the Zelensky Phenomenon secret: his personal will and his energetic age. At mid-40s, people combine both experience of two decades of an adult life, and  capacity of energy in its high potency. This is a blessed age of wise productivity in one’s life. And Ukraine is very lucky to have as its president and his team the capable people of a capable age. Zelensky’s cabinet and the people in his Presidential Office are not only brainy, determined and committed. They are intelligent and shrewd. And most of all, they are normal. Not pompous ignorants which the world is observing in an apoplexy on the other side. 

But, in my understanding, the key-factor of the Secret to be Zelensky is the 44-years old president’s will. We all with respect transforming into admiration and care were seeing that David versus Goliath will since the moment when the Mean War started.  The presence of will in him was unmistaken despite all the shock he had experienced all of the sudden. 

President Zelensky gets really tired sometimes. He also gets emotional, rarely, and he gets sad. He is a normal, well-oriented human being. A good man, most importantly. When a good man gets that inner will, the potency of a will develops. It develops from a theoretically pro-good intentions into determination, devotion, control, composure, intellectual effort, and vision that keeps the performance of a public figure masterly and assured. Assured in his country, assured in his people.

And his people respond to that with respect and trust. I know it hearing many of my Ukrainian friends who are saying emphatically about trust which president Zelensky and his team are enjoying nation-wide. 

If the man who attacked president Zelensky’s country in a blindness of his cognitivity ( as it is irrelevant to address either of  his heart or brain) somehow manages to get some glimpses of real intelligence from his useless services, he must be genuinely extremely envious of Zelensky the president. And his boiling envy is absolutely mercilessly justified.

Week 12: May 11 – 18, 2022

PEACE AS A SIDE-EFFECT OF ‘A COMFORT’: RUSSIA’S LIFE CONCEPT

Inna Rogatchi (C). Blue Breeze. 2020.

This, the twelfth week of the Mean War, had both drama and new shifts, some of them of a destiny changing qualities for entire countries. 

The images of soldiers leaving Azovstal after three month’ of heroic battle, carrying their heavily wounded comrades were as dramatic as it gets.  Three months of heavy fighting left a distinct sign on those heroic people, and after this experience, all of them, representing many different units of the Ukrainian army, got united , and should be perceived not according to their units’ affiliations, but according to their essential and heroic standing for their country. 

Russian authorities know precisely that defenders of Azovstal were soldiers from six different divisions.  Without blinking an eye, however, they have declared all of them as the Nazists, and now are preparing a legal ground for setting up a tribunal against them all, instead of a promised exchange of military personnel agreed with the Ukrainian side. Nothing new, of course, but getting repeated, the pattern stamps Russia’s reputation as a negotiating partner and also as a country with ‘a floating’ set of values, putting it extremely diplomatically.  

This real life drama and real heroism with the absence of a happy-ending have reflected in a special way against president Zelensky’s address to the full house in Cannes at the opening of the most important film festival in the world. His speech was a master-piece in its fine thinking, precise metaphors, and top class style. And also in its delivery. Volodymyr Zelensky was not simply tired. It is known that he sleeps very little during the last three months, and gets bad news in a high proportion. He also personally experiences real horrors of a terrible, barbarian Mean War, and once a person experiences something like that, it stays in him for the rest of his life. Zelensky experiences this kind of shocking sensations weekly if not often. One has to have a steel psycho to carry on in a measurable way with such emotional luggage which is with you always. 

On the day he addressed the super-posh Cannes, president Zelensky was totally busy with the grave ending of the Azovstal three-months’ defence. It is not only grave, it is a grieving situation. But he did bear himself with a calm decency and a dignified composition. 

I cannot agree more with Volodymyr Zelensky on his projection on dictators and cinema: The worst dictators of the 20th century loved cinematography. It is known about them. But the most important thing left after them is the eerie documentary footage of the newsreel”.   In my view, the footage is the most important document of history, because it  shows us human expressions and emotions, and provides us with real-time pictures of people, and the results of their activities. We can read volumes of Eichmann’s deeds during the years in different countries. And then we see his so-called face during his trial in Jerusalem, and all that terrible knowledge which did let you sleep for years, gets an explanation as you are watching evil impersonalised, acting so routinely. As if. 

It is exactly what president Zelensky meant in his over ten-minutes’ speech at the opening of the 74th Cannes Festival.  The leader of the attacked Ukraine said with a deep conviction to the black tied glamour crowd filling every seat of the Palais des Festivals: And we will never forget it, because it is not even Hell” , referring to the famous quote from the great film M.A.S.H.  “War isn’t Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse…”.  It is indeed. Ukraine experiences it in full measure. Without any fault. Without the slightest objective reason. With no provocation. No nothing. And we are watching it on our screens, helplessly to a large extent. This is what makes this Mean War so deeply mean. 

In order to prevent  a similar scenario, on this 12th week of the Mean War, Finland and Sweden both decided to join NATO, in a tectonic geopolitical move which was not remotely imaginable yet a half of a year ago. This decision is not only about our border which is a vital thing, undoubtedly. But essentially, it is about the way in which the entire country reacts to evil. As simple as that. Finland leads the countries of Europe and the UK in the adequate and honest perception of the Mean War. 85% of the Finnish population sees it as it is, as unprovoked Russian aggression. The range of such attitudes differs very much among the countries of Europe and the UK, from this noble mark to 20% of seeing the things as they stand by Bulgaria, with many grades in between, which is a sad discovery for many. 

The way in which Finland carried on the pivotal matter of the country’s joining  NATO will go to the history’s books. Its openness, its extremely thorough preparedness on all and every level and in all and every aspects, the planning, the timing, the proceeding, the attitude, the publicity, the dialogue with the nation, all of it reminds me of an elegant chess combination conceived and executed brilliantly. Finland is rarely blessed with our president Sauli Niinistö, and in this existential issue, the government, the parliament ( 188 members of it from 200 voted for, remarkably), experts, journalists, people in its majority reacts and acts exemplary. We are very proud of such a just reaction by Finland as a country. It does matter a lot. It sets the standards high. And keep it, in a calm and assured way. Chapeau to us all. 

Meanwhile, in Moscow, on the 12th week of the Mean War, after three months of hysteria, the energy seems to dwindle. For the first time during the military campaign, some of the people who are familiar to a large TV audience in Russia, honestly, to a giant audience, started to produce something unexpected, something which would make them a target of vicious attack momentarily yet a couple of weeks ago. In the sphere of official mass media military propaganda in Russia, nothing is done by chance. Such things do not happen there, period. People who  are involved in that process and that industry for years, know it by their skin on a micron-like level. They would not open their month to pronounce some criticism without a sanction, or ‘a recommendation’ as they call it, by the certain curators from the presidential Administration which has been transformed, according to first-hand knowledge from there, into ‘almost completely a military unit, with its strict discipline concerning every move, not to speak about decision-making’.

So, in such a heavily controlled situation, two leading military experts, both colonels of the Soviet army, both good specialists, both with a serious experience of work in the Soviet and early Russian General Staff, started to disseminate totally weird statements. “ There is no slightest doubt that our ( Russian) army would need at least a decade to restore itself’ , says one of them, facing a long-faced quazi-militant hysterical propagandist who leads the most popular Russian TV talk-show and everyone one’s same long-faces in the studio. Nobody protested. But there was much more. The colonel was very conveniently arguing  that Russia ‘does not need the third Afghanistan ( with the first one happening in the 1920s and 1930s, the same fruitlessly). ‘ Contrary to Afghanistan, the population of Ukraine is much bigger, and they can, actually, fire the weapons much better. They are defending their country, – a pause, an express self-check – well, in the way they understand it, but they do-defend-their-country with weapons in the hand very efficiently, one must say – because this is what we are seeing. So, do we need the third Afghanistan there? No, we do not”, – stamped the colonel. Nobody argued. But there was more: “ All these de-nazification and de-nationalisation, all these are not the goals of the army. The army has completed its goals in Ukraine. It has. Now, there are  not the army tasks , there are tasks for the Ukrainian population themselves, and possibly for special organisations ( like FSB or local administrations). But not for the army. The army should be recalled from Ukraine. Now.” Nobody argued in a studio full of shameless, cynical, professional one-sided Russian propagandists. Nobody was even angry. They all know the truth. And now it is aired national-wide. Why? And why now? 

There is another expert who was speaking at the same time, also during this week 12th of the Mean War, in another extremely popular and the same if not more hysterical militant propaganda TV show. He dared to speak the truth about the total isolation of Russia , ‘let’s face it, we are completely isolated in the world’. He suggested that it is ‘a high time for people to stop consuming information-tranquillisers and to face the truth’. He said that the war is weakening the Russian army while the Ukrainian side ‘might have an one-million army soon’, that ‘with the US lend-lease  program and the EU full-scale military assistance, strategically the situation will be only worsening for the Russian army, and it is advisable and necessary to seeing things as they are’. Nobody argued in that studio either, all gloomy faces were around. They also know the truth. As they know it in the Kremlin, as well. 

And the first signal about it was sent to the Russian public by the president’s press-attache, himself a complete hard-liner, even by the Russian standards. Speaking alongside his hard-line colleagues from anti-dream team, the Russia’s super-arrogant minister for foreign affairs and extremely cunning and trying so hard, always unsuccessfully for his country and often quite successfully for his beloved self the first deputy head of the Kremlin Administration Senior Kirienko, in front of a giant rally of selected youth in what was called as ‘the marathon of knowledge’, the P’s speaker said the following: ‘ We ( Russia) will get the peace. Of course we will get it. On the conditions which are comfortable for us’. 

The Freudian slips of those people are amazing although they are not surprising. So, the Kremlin mouth-piece, a trained, experienced and highly disciplined former KGB high-rank officer who does not utter a random word without a good reason, started to prepare his country for a peace solution. He does exactly the same thing which the two colonels started to do on the state Russian TV in psychological preparation of the Russian public for the changing situation which demands now finishing the army’s actions somewhat in the foreseeable future. This is happening for the first time during the three months of the Mean War. And it comes straight from Mr Peskov’s boss. 

But in his addressing the mass of the selected youth, the president’s press-attache said more than he wanted, actually, rather atypically for ever restrained self. “A peace on comfortable conditions’. Those people just sincerely do not get that peace is not a relative value. That’s the problem with them. And it would be like that forever. 

Week 11: May 4 – May 11, 2022

Summary of the Week 11: May 4  – May 11, 2022

TRANSFORMATIONS IN THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT

Inna Rogatchi (C). Condition of Light. 2022.

The time in May around May 9th, Victory Day, as it is known in Russia, was this year nervous for many people around the globe. People were concerned that the Russian leadership might go further in their aggression, to celebrate the date which they have made a hysterical propaganda tool for their population. That did not happen. Instead, the official celebration was brief and muted, with leadership looking tense and uncomfortable. We also saw all those crowds in the rallies all over Russia, with defiant masses, not just being stuck in  their history three generations back, but enjoying it, or making the impression of it. It really does not matter. 

What does matter is that the country, a huge country that occupies the 8th part of the Earth’s territory, with a population of 145 million people, has come to its fiasco, on so many levels, almost all levels of life.  It is a political fiasco, military fiasco, diplomatic fiasco, economical fiasco, humanitarian fiasco, scientific fiasco, international cooperation fiasco, communications fiasco, development fiasco, and – morale fiasco. Each of these fiascos can be analysed in detail, and perhaps it is worth it, for the educational purposes. But maybe, it is not. Because fiasco is fiasco. It is obvious, and it is definite. 

It indicates a qualitative change that has occurred to Russia as the result, readiness, conduct and support of the Mean War.  It was a matter of choice, and the worst possible one was taken.  If that leadership would not be sure that it is largely supported by the Russian society, there would be another option on the Kremlin table. 

The total, multi-dimensional fiasco of Russia tells graphically about serious transformations in that society. Too serious to be ignored. I call the change the transformation in absence of light. The core of the tissue of public and individual life in Russia has been corroded to the current state of post-humanity. It has excluded them from the life and normal functioning of the world in so many respects. And it will have deeply negative long-term consequences. At least two generations will feel the consequences of this qualitative change.

 The Mean War turned out to be counter-productive in a mega proportion. As some of the Ukrainian leaders have mentioned recently, ‘Soon Ukraine will have two Victory Days, but Russia has already lost its own’. Dead-right. In no time, Mr P & Co have achieved extraordinary results in so many directions they could hardly dream about: the level of global awareness with Ukraine, Ukraine’s history, Ukraine culture, Ukrainian language, Ukrainian people. The Russian ‘liberators’ have made 45-million Ukrainian citizens to become deeply devoted patriots of their country, absolutely justly so. 

And at the same time, and by same means, the Mean War has turned Ukrainians to massive rejection of anything Russian. Until this very time, Ukrainian cities , despite changing a lot of the Soviet time’ street-names, were keeping  a lot of them still, additionally to the names of subway stations and all other toponames. Additionally, there are a lot of memorials to Russian culture figures, and many museums connected with Russian culture. This all will be gone very soon now, in a sweeping desire by the wide Ukrainian public to get rid of anything that reminds them, not to mention, memorialise anything Russian, would it be Pushkin, Tolstoy, Rachmaninov, or any other Russian name.

This is not a witch-hunt. This is a natural reaction to the Mean War. No enemy ever would be able to cause more harm to the meaning of Russia, Russian history, Russian culture, Russian language in a neighbouring country of Ukraine then the Kremlin leadership and its stunningly useless barbarian army. Ukrainian people will not only not forget, they will reject Russia and anything Russian for at least two generations ahead . Morally, it is worse than any Versaille Treaty for Russia. 

But it is rejected not by Ukraine only. Their allies are few and pathetic, their stand in the West is compromised completely and for foreseeable future. They are self-made pariahs of the civilised world. They are genuinely not interesting subjects to the world any longer. 

For twenty years, from 1945 until 1965, there were no celebrations, nor was it a cult of May 9th, Victory day, in the USSR. Why so? Because the memory of the horrors of the extremely difficult war was very near. People should not be reminded about what has become a very painful part of life for every Soviet family, literally so. From 1965 onward, until the end of the USSR, it was an appropriate celebration, modest, inner, organic, warm and humane. There was no fuss, and everyone understood that it was first of all the day of the veterans, those who really physically were risking their lives in the very difficult fight against the Nazi Germany. 

The last twenty something years, from 2000s onward, an empty, cold, pretentious, false hysterical narrative have replaced the Victory Day making it a propaganda tool of a worst sort, cynical and shallow. 

The sad story of modern Russia is that the best of their collective memory of the XX century has transformed from real enthusiasm to gloomy reflection, and from justified celebration to deep sadness. They are big enough to live on their own. And they ought to exist in that self-mode for a long time ahead. Because they have made the doors of the world to be shut on them. Humanity does not co-exist with inhumanity. This is against the laws of human nature. 

Day 77: May 11, 2022, Wednesday

FORCED MIGRATION: STALINISM OF the XXI CENTURY

Inna Rogatchi (C). Memory Landscape XX. 2021.

The situation on the ground after merciless shelling by the Russian ‘liberators’ in Mariupol was such that many people who were coming out from the basement barely understood what was going on there. Some people can sustain the pressure, and some cannot. Some can sustain shelling, destruction, murder, and some not that strong. So from the basements in Mariupol appeared many completely disoriented people. 

They were taken care of. They were told by ‘the liberators’ and their representatives that Ukraine is no more, and that they would be taken very good care of in mama-Russia. There they would be provided with a good lodgings, they would be sustained financially, they would be helped with a very cheap bank loan only for 2% of annual premium, they would be provided with jobs. Everything for you, our dear brothers and sisters. 

Just one thing: in order to receive the whole package, you are not expected to live in Moscow or central Russia. Those packages are available only for those people from Ukraine who would like to live in the Far East, in Vladivostok region. Our Vladivostok is very developed, as you might know. 

Plus: in order to become a legitimate receiver of the package, one has to decide at once, now, on the spot. Those packages are extremely popular, you see, and if you would like to get it, you should decide at once, and to sign those documents, also on the spot, here, here, and here. OK, well done, you are all set, we will take care of your transportation. 

These disoriented people were all pushed, not physically, but in a logistic way, to a very prompt decision, and soon, to physical trains which delivered them all the way to the Russian Far East. Not even in Vladivostok, but to a small village 200 km from there, which is literally nowhere land, I’ve checked.

While they were travelling all that long, they realised that they were fooled in a big way. Those fantastic loans with 2% interest are provided only to those who are under 35, the Ukrainian replaced people learned while travelling, nobody told them about that special clause before they signed the papers. And most of them are over 35, as it was obvious to those ‘liberators’ who duped them on purpose. 

Instead of a ‘large and developed’ Vladivostok, people who used to live all their lives in a big city as Mariupol is, were placed, forcibly, to small villages 200 km from Vladivostok. In some other cases, people were also placed by cruel deception to simply awful places, such as abandoned camps, literally, the places where the utilisation of the Soviet arsenal of biological and chemical weapons was conducted in the 1990s. These places are lethal, period. 

Instead of promised good apartments, people are placed in their new places for a month at a time, after which they are responsible for finding and paying for their apartments, with no work provided. 

Of course, nobody pushed them in the trains coming to the Russian far East. They were ‘simply’ outwitted. ‘Simply’ disorientated. ‘Simply’ provided with false information. “The liberators’ ‘simply’ used the people’s fear, terror, fatigue to orient them towards the direction which was directed by those bastards who has envisaged and carried on such a smart plan. 

‘The liberators’ have confiscated those people’s passports, initially it was told to them that passports are collected for ‘a registration’. But then those poor fooled people have realised that their passports have not been returned to them for many weeks. It means that even if they would have the energy – the strongest wish they all do have – to try to get themselves out of those holes, they are unable to do it without their passports.   

“If only we could have a few days, like two -three days, after we got out of our basements, to come back to normality, and to think a bit, never in our life we would not agree to anything like that. It was a trap. What do we have to do now?” – those desperate people told the journalists of Radio Liberty who did manage to speak to them on their ordeal. 

Trapping people, treating them as slaves, confiscating their passports was a very well-known practices in the Stalin’s USSR. Now, the Mean War spreads its meanness beyond the hot-spots of fire. It lures people into the terrible traps in the most mean way, cruelly, shamelessly, and it treats them as slaves. In the XXI century. Bloody Hell. 

Day 76: May 10, 2022, Tuesday

RUSSIAN CROWD

Michael Rogatchi (C). Backstage. Fragment. 1995.

One of the most repulsive pictures in my life stays in front of my eyes days after I saw it for the first time, a few days ago when I was getting a mass of various materials regarding the preparations for the Victory Day celebrations in Russia. It is a picture from a hospice there where elderly dying patients were forced to wear cheap caps imitating the Russian /Soviet/Red Army military caps which are not the part of the Russian army uniform for decades  by now, but which has been a super-hit in that mass militant-like hysteria in Russia for several years by now, getting to the peak around the Victory Day on May 9th. 

We used to see the children wearing it in enlarging quantity, each year claiming yet more younger children pushed by their parents and teachers to that idiotic mass fashion. When it started, those wearing it were teenagers, it was a game, sort of . Now, several years later, the children wearing it are in kindergartens, and it is frightening. As my good friend mentioned, ‘they look exactly like the children marching in the Hamas camps’. 

At the same time with the children, those caps known in Russia as ‘pilotka’, are worn now by more and more ageing people, those kids’ not only parents, but also great parents. And it is not caps with the Red Army star only, there are also strips and shoulders  on the outfits for the kids, demonstrating that people who are enthusiastic about this mass cheapening in Russia, do not have a clue what a real army is about and what a real strip and shoulder means. There are also false rewards, tin medals and banners on those outfits worn by 5-6- year old kids, and younger, not to mention toy weaponry of all sorts.  To say that they all look idiotic in that cheap military masquarade it is to say nothing. But they seem to like it.  

More,  in the gift packages for those invited to the VIP-zone seats in the Red Square, there was that cheap pilotka cap, plus a scarf in the colours of their aggressive St Georgiy militant cult, menacing dark orange and black, a similar badge, and some other military-like things for common use. In telling gestures, many of those present at the VIPs lounge made a point of immediately put those awful caps on themselves, some of them in combination with scarfs and badges. Ministers, special advisers, senior officials were in such a hurry to demonstrate their loyalty, looking pathetic, even among themselves. My colleague was present there  and this is ‘a field-report’, so to say. Nobody smiled there, and nobody celebrated. They all were on duty, I was told.

All this enthusiasm and preferences  is the bosses and the crowd’s own business, of course, and first and most of all it tells about those people who like to make mannequins from themselves and their children. We saw millions of them on May 9, 2022 on the streets of various cities in Russia bursting into the streets for mass rallies known as “Immortal Regiment’.  

The Russian leader who was very tense, concerned and largely unhappy during the military parade on the Red Square, has become his own self while marching – not more than for 10 minutes, of course – in front of one of such huge columns in Moscow down-town.  During the military parade, he was very much afraid for his own skin. To the degree that they decided to cancel any airshow, the best part of the parade. After the menace in his head passed, and he was leading the crowd in pilotkas, he was relieved and happy, he knew that the crowd was for him. And it was a huge crowd.

Nobody forced those crowds. Of course, everything there was thoroughly organised as it always is the case there, especially now, during the brutal war they are carrying on in the most savageous way. But all those millions marching through the streets of Moscow, St Petersburg, and every other Russian city, were people who volunteered to come in support of the ultra-patriotic current Russian narrative of the WWII, but yet more importantly, those who would like personally support their leadership of blatant liars and brutal aggressors. 

The way in which the Mean War is waged against Ukraine does reflect the character of this crowd. That’s why this mass supports P, that’s why it lives on lies produced by their boorish  propaganda as on oxygen. 

So, those good, normal people in Russia in possession of conscience and those who share normal humane moral values are in utter minority. All our friends are like that, and we are glad about it. But in all those rallies, there was present and current Russia, its undeniable majority, and this is the major reason to be concerned about the fact that such country with such population has a huge nuclear arsenal. 

I feel sorry for those honest, good, talented, able, aspiring  people with conscience who turned out to be trapped in that Empire of Absurd. But those people do not define that country. They are decent and good, but they are an utter minority there. 

How merciless one should be  to force the old dying people to wear those idiotic farcial pilotkas. This is the image of Russia today for me. And until this will change, it doesn’t matter who leads them, one P or another. It really does not matter. Russia’s biggest problem is that crowd.  False, shallow, and cruel.  

Day 75: May 9, 2022, Monday

DE-VICTORISING the VICTORY DAY IN RUSSIA

When talentless people are in charge, sooner or later the result is disastrous. For Russia, it happened later, but it is obvious. Their celebration of the victory over the Nazi Germany which has been built into the cult, tastelessly and falsely, this year was the reflection of their army’s fiasco in their aggression against Ukraine. Minutes before the show started, information appeared that the peak of the military parade, its airshow has been cancelled, both in Moscow and in every other Russia’s city which has planned it.  The reason? ‘Bad weather conditions’. Those ‘bad weather conditions’ were obvious on the screens of the direct translation from the Red Square. In fact, the weather was perfect. One of the less experienced female journalists reporting from the spot, was enthusiastic about ‘wonderful sunny weather here’. Poor thing. She might be left without a premium for working on a holiday. 

Being faced with an unexpected change of the script, Russian official TV did not find anything better to replace the suddenly disappeared demonstration of an air might with their filming of the general rehearsal of the show, just two days ago, on May 7th. We learned that 77 aircrafts, including historical ones,  had been chosen to fly over Moscow to symbolise the 77th anniversary of the day. Among those 77, was an old IL-80 known also as the aircraft of a Judgement Day, the monstrous aircraft whose purpose is to accommodate a Russian leader whoever he would be, during the nuclear war. That old machine was sent for some modification a couple of years ago. Instead of modifying it, somebody in Taganrog, the city where it was sent, looted dozens of computers from there and some panels – to exchange it for a miserable sum as metal scrap which it most likely was. 

We also were told by the commander of one of the aircraft units, Su-27, that they were about to fly over Moscow forming a Z-letter in the air, as that military pilot explained, in a matter-of-fact way,  ‘to demonstrate the title of the operation’. Indeed. 

Thanks to him, it was for the first time from the beginning of the Mean War in February 2022, that Russia’s side has stated the meaning of the Latin letters on their tanks of the country which uses a Cyrillic alphabet. We all knew that latin letters V, O, and Z used all over that pathetic country convulsing in militant hysteria, meant V( ladimir) O(leksandrovich) Z(elensky), the first letters of the name of the president of Ukraine whom the Russian leader has ordered to eliminate directly to his Chechen trustee Kadyrov yet three weeks before the Z-operation started, on February 3d, when ordering Kadyrov to the Kremlin. But official Russia never explained to its 145-million population using a Cyrillic-alphabet why there are the Latin letters on their tanks and what the hell it means. Now it was slipped by the commander of the SU-27 squadron that such is the official name of the operation. It is always good to hear things from its original sources.  

But there were no Z-ts on public display in the places where the authorities were instructed to drop it. Because it looks too German, some people say. And it is in a foreign, un-patriotic alphabet, anyway. In the places where the local authorities were not instructed in time, or over-did in their Z-zealotry, poor Russian state TV had to cut off their direct translations repeatedly, and to run the news which had been shown just five minutes ago. It had never happened there before. The excusing smiles of the anchors were telling. 

The leader looked very concerned, and actually very ageing, indeed. It is actually seen, it is imprinted on the mugs of them all on the top of the current Russian power, a very rapid ageing. In those two months, all those persons have aged for ten years at least. It means  that they all are under permanent pressure, they are concerned, some of them are frightened. They all are obviously unhappy, very gloomy, but most of all concerned, from the top to the toe. It was obvious in the direct translation from the Red Square today. 

The man who has started the Mean War, was not assured of himself at all, in a manifesting way. His speech, which he corrected as he pronounced it, and from which he decided to drop several passages, as it was seen from the direct transmission, was a defensive offence, not the other way round. He was insisting that Russia ‘ had no choice but to start’ this operation. He obviously was not believing a word of what he was reading from that speech. It never was like that. 

In the direct transmission from Sevastopol, the Russian state TV anchor was literally astound to see what appeared on the screen: a huge portrait of Stalin decorated with flowers, and ceremonially brought in the front of large column of people, in the way in which the Russians carried on the portrait of their successive tsars in front of manifestations. In ten seconds, the direct transmission from Sevastopol was cut off, with more repetitions instead of direct transmission, accompanied with the guilty smile of an anchor. In 40 minutes, ‘direct’ transmission from  Sevastopol was back on the screen, corrected, with no Stalin visible any longer. 

The same tricks were in use from every place there in Russia where the Z-letter was not just visible, but dominating the landscape, as in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan where obviously military hysteria of the worst sort is thriving.

On the day which has become a false cult in Russia nowadays, this year, at the moment of the Mean War, there was anything but a holiday both in Moscow and all over that Z-country. It was a stressed demonstration of loyalty, with no self-conviction in what they are doing at all, starting from the leader, his bodyguards to the members of the Russian government. What  a pathetic, stressed, semi-aborted show. Not surprisingly though. When a country de-victorises its own victory, the result is exactly as we saw on May 9th, 2022, on the Red Square: forced gathering of concerned people. Nothing more. And no air show at all. Cancelled. Judgement Day must be near.  

Day 74: May 8, 2022, Sunday

BOMBING MUSEUMS: NEW TOP-SPORT IN RUSSIA

We know that Russian ‘liberators’ liberate Ukraine as terminators. Such is their style of a third-rate superman. We saw many museums in Ukraine targeted, burned down, shelled off, erased, completely destroyed, including a large and important museum which was the house of the primary Russian Tsaikovsky composer. As my Italian music colleague mentioned at the time: “Let’s see what they will do when they discover that ‘their’ Tchaikovsky was half Ukrainian ( on his paternal side)”. I replied to my colleague that they would not believe it and would call it ‘the Western propaganda’. 

This time, they did hit, on purpose, a historical building of the XVIII century in the Kharkiv region. This was a very well-known place which was a large and very pretty park with this XVIII century manor  house in which Hrigory Skovoroda died and where he is buried there in the park. The house was a very well-done museum of world importance. And certainly, of importance for Russia, because Skovoroda is known – or probably was – as the father of the Russian philosophical mysticism, and all Russian big names of that sacral for them direction originated from the Skovoroda’s works who were all written and published in Russian. This year is also the year of Skovoroda’s 300th anniversary of birth. Additionally to being a philosopher of a primary importance for Russia, Skovoroda was a renowned poet, composer and famous teacher.

My friends visited the beautiful and very well maintained house-museum of the major Russian philosopher in a largely Russian-speaking ( formerly )  just a couple of years ago, and I was told about how well it has been renovated and how neatly maintained. It   was the case with many museums and parks in Ukraine, I have to emphasise in a special respect towards people who worked hard on that for years, and who wanted their country and their places to be nice, beautiful and well-maintained, unlikely in their giant neighbourhood where there is stunning and depressing  picture of rusted land in so many places apart from their capitals and some large cities. This is a medical fact, which probably drove jealous-crazy some of the small-minded neighbours who love to destroy and who feel their machism fulfilled in that primitive sport. 

The beautiful authentic and historically important building of the XVIII century was hit by a Russian missile directly.  When the world erupted in furious condemnation, some while after , as if nothing happened, Russian army issued a statement about ‘successful destroying two building harbouring the commanding positions of the Ukrainian nationalistic army in the Kharkiv region’, addressing indirectly their next exploit to the totally destroyed by a direct hit museum, house, park and burial place of the great philosopher. 

We have been learning the meaning of the contribution of  Hrigory Skovoroda in school. As heavily marginalised as Soviet schools were ideologically, the Soviet official school curriculum respectfully and dutifully recognised his input into what was known as Russian culture internationally. Millions of students in Soviet universities all learned Skovoroda’s works and legacy in a substantial detail because he has become the origin of the mighty direction of the Russian civilization in its philosophical part. On his grave in the destroyed now park next to the very old oak under which he used to work under, and which has been bent together lovingly and with great care, preventing the oak’s self-destruction, by Ukrainian people who worked in the museum, the epitaph and all text is in Russian. 

People and the Russian Emprire authorities  in Skovorodinovka village near Kharkiv where the house of Skovoroda’s friend and patron Kovalsky is located, making the epitaph in the year 1794, had no clue that their idiotic successors eleven generations later will make the entire 45-million Ukranian nation of which a large part was natural Russian-speakers, especially in that area, the Kharkiv region, to turn their hearts from their native language, and willing to speak Ukranian instead, in their just defiance and in their absolutely justified indignation with anything Russian brough to their peaceful life with missiles, fire, death and total destructions by the brutes who has appeared from the Planet Ignoramus. 

My friends, who had visited the Skovoroda Museum a couple of years ago, and who are themselves internationally known historians, have told me: “We will not forgive that to the Russians, too. We will not.” They are very kind people, peaceful, educated, whose families were deeply and productively rooted into Russian language and its culture. My mother knew the famous father of the husband, a Russian-speaking and Russian-writing teacher and writer from Kiev, well. We, the next generation, are suffering together, in unison,  during all those 74 days of this Mean War. Now, the tone of my friends has become steel-like. People have their boundaries. People’s suffering has its limits. Ignorant arrogant imbeciles cannot proceed in their barbarian way endlessly. They will meet the entire country which they attack, not only sustaining and defying this sheer evil, but also turning to hate them. With a good reason. And with all following consequences.  

Day 73: May 7, 2022 Saturday

RUSSIAN ART MUSEUMS NEW GUIDELINES: BAN FOR DOVES & CLOUDS,  BUTTERFLIES  ARE NOT RECOMMENDED

If I did not know the source of the episode, I would not believe it. So surreal it is. But I know the source, and the story is the fact. It needs a new Magritte to visualise it. 

In March, there was an important meeting among Russia’s top-museums senior staff called in by the Ministry of Culture. There at the Ministry, a special working group has been established to go through ALL the content of ALL major Russian art museums. To check if there is nothing politically incorrect is featured there, in their new Z-reality. 

Then, a member of the Ministry’s working group on museums internet content provided mandatory instructions and also ‘strong recommendations’ from the Ministry to the museums regarding their sites’ content. 

Among those official instructions and recommendations were the following ones: images featuring doves are forbidden from the sites, including any Picasso and alike; any dove  should be taken off site. 

Also are officially mandatory forbidden: clouds, especially dramatic ones, black & white photos, anything sad. In the category of recommendations, butterflies were featured. ‘ ( Images of ) butterflies are not recommended. We are not forbidding it definitely,  like doves, it should depend on the context and theme, but in general, we are not in favour of butterflies. Perhaps, it would be better to take them off, to be on the safe side’, – a quote from the Ministry of Culture representative’s guidance for Russian top art museums to update their sites immediately.  

“You have to put an immediate thorough attention to ( your museum) sites. We have checked it all by now. You all have to make rapid changes there all over. Change everything according to our guidelines now and be attentive in the future. This is a very serious matter, and we will follow your sites permanently”, those called for the special meeting were told determinedly. 

A lot of damage has been done after that historical meeting already. For example, a large exhibition of the classic of Russian post-modern art Grigory Bruskin which was opened at the Tretyakov Gallery in March, marking the 75th anniversary of now 77 artist, was shut down promptly, due to its ‘inappropriate’ from the point of view of the Ministry of Culture content. It did not matter that just five years ago Bruskin was chosen and invited by the same ministry to represent the Russian state and its culture at the Venezia Biennale with the very same compositions which were exhibited at the show at the Tretyakov. After there was no Bruskin with his anti-totalitarian art in the Tretyakov Gallery physically, the whole content of it, a very rich material, was whipped off the Tretyakov Gallery’s site in a blink of an eye. As it never existed. Gone. Charmingly, the artist was unaware of any of it until his exhibition was taken off both from the halls and from the site. Why bother? 

The person who was present at the meeting and who was a senior art expert at the leading Russian state art museum, has left her position voluntarily. She is not alone in that sad process. Russian museums were praised among the art experts world-wide for a very high level of their curators and specialists. From now on, they will be known for the North-Korean style of management of their sites cleaned off doves, clouds, sad pictures, black & white images, and possibly butterflies. No, Magritte would not be able to visualise this extreme nonsense either. My hopes are all for Banksy now. 

Day 72: May 6, 2022, Friday

BLUNDER WITH  BABUSHKA FOR ALL RUSSIA

We could all laugh our heads off this story unless it involves living old couple who got themselves into the trouble and who were and are used shamelessly by Russian exemplary stupid propaganda jerks. 

In March, when there was an intense Russian ‘liberators’ attack in Kharkiv region, they came shelling a particular village. One elderly woman was trying to appease the aggressors to the best of her long life experience. So she found an old red Soviet flag somewhere and came out with the flag in front of the liberators. She thought to calm them down and prevent the imminent destruction of her house and village. She failed. Everything was shelled down, her house, her village, and her elderly husband was severely wounded. 

The ‘liberators’ went further in their deadly attack, but some of them have photographed a petite old woman with a disproportionately large flag. The image was a gift from heaven for a hopeless Russian propaganda machine: babushka was real. 

What followed was as pathetic as it can be in a place ruled by dummies. Babushka with a red flag has become a meme of the Russian liberation of Ukraine. The image, extremely badly done, has appeared  everywhere: posters, panels, stickers, souvenir dolls, banners, so-called paintings, and so-called sculptures in several cities of Russia, plus in the Russian-controlled territory of Ukraine. An usual for them hysteria and fetish  growing as a snow-ball towards the climax of that hysteria planned for May 9th. 

Following the total failure with the Operation Ukraine, the Kremlin  administration has changed their main curator of the task, tasking with it the first deputy of the administration senior Kirienko  who was born by an Ukrainian mother. He is trying hard. To the degree that he decided to participate personally at the next opening of the momentarily done cheap plastic babushka sculpture at the Russian controlled territory of Ukraine where he visited to inspect and to boost the effort. 

It was a scene from a movie about drug-cartel bosses’ life in Latin America: everything is dead-serious and everything is hilariously pathetic. And so blisteringly cheap as the material for so-called sculpture featuring babushka. Senior Kirienko was ignited in his reverence of babushka in his opening speech: “Oh, this Russian woman, this heroic Russian woman!.. If I only knew her name, I would bow down to her toes!.. If I only knew!.. She is the Babushka for all Russia! Yes, she is!” Kirienko, as his boss, and as it goes with patented evildoers,  is a heavily sentimental type with a highly labile psyche. 

The real babushka, meanwhile, whose name is known very well and for over a month by now, Anna Ivanovna Ivanova, is spending her time now in a hospital together with her husband who is still treated there from the wounds from the “liberators’ shelling. The old couple simply has no other place to live, as Anna Ivanovna’s desperate gesture to save her house and her village was totally ignored by the Russian bandits in military uniform on the ground. 

Anna Ivanovna is very angry with them. She spoke to the press several times already and set the score with ‘the liberators’ clear. “It is such a lousy situation there in our village after they came and shelled us. What had we done to them? I tried with that old flag to calm them down. I hoped that they would not destroy our house, and our village. But no, they did destroy it all, and they wounded my husband, an old innocent man. It is so lousy what they were doing here”, – she told anyone who wanted to hear her. 

So, Kremlin fresh-made anonymous babushka-for-all-Russia turned out to be the next blunder. Why do they ignore to do a minimum home-work in order to preserve themselves from non-stop international self-ridiculing? Because ruling mediocre and below that does not have a clue about very term ridicule, not to mention its meaning. Let them enjoy that ghastly new anti-art of all-Russia’s babushkas all over the place which so successfully cancels itself. 

Day 71: May 5, 2022, Thursday

ORWELLIAN TRIAL ON ORWELL IN  RUSSIA

Michael Rogatchi (C). The Third Eye. 1991.

One does not know to cry or laugh on daily news from the Russian Land-Behind-the-Glass, the fact is that they astound us with incredible regularity. Recently, there has been a trial in St Petersburg which considered the case of a man who went to protest the Mean War with a slogan. That slogan contained nothing more than a quote. The quote was the following: ‘ World is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength’. As students from the high school know worldwide, the phrase comes from George Orwell’s ‘1984’. But who the hell is that George for the Russian police in St Petersburg who have arrested the man with this quote on his sheet of paper, and opened an official trial against him – or George Orwell? – for ‘discreditation of the Russian army’, the most popular new article in the Russian criminal code which has been added there as soon as the Mean War has started.

So, there was a real trial in St Petersburg. The trial decided that George Orwell did not discredit the Russian army. How could he, indeed, have been dead since January 1950? Luckily, the female judge from St Petersburg did not like to ridicule herself to the world. St Petersburg is a cultural capital of Russia, after all. The prosecution was very unhappy. Possibly they will appeal the decision. 

But the elderly women in Ulan-Ude which is far from St Petersburg was not so lucky. She was driven straight to the police station by the driver of the bus who has decorated the front window of his bus with a large Zieg-sign, the sign of loyalty in Russia nowadays. Modest pensioner politely and quietly asked the driver ‘to take off the sign of war’ from his bus in the city which buries the young soldiers who are killed in the Mean War daily. For some reason, Burjaatia of which Ulan-Ude is capital has a disproportionately high number of soldiers sent to Ukraine. And they are killed en masse there. 

So, the bus-driver has driven that woman directly to the police station, and she has been trialled and sentenced to a week of imprisonment, this is given a seriously bad condition of her health, according to the legal authorities there. 

In another true Orwellian style, a prosecution in Moscow is preparing for yet another trial: several protesting people there were so desperate that they were ready to commit a public suicide. They were arrested, and charged initially with hooliganism in the public place. But prosecution has changed the article. They will be trialled for terrorism now. 

We used to say that Soviet reality was truly Orwellian one. We used to say that post-Soviet reality was sometimes Orwellian, as well, but to a much lesser degree. And now, in what I call a post-humanity period of Russia, their reality is quasi-Orwellian one. I wonder, did George Orwell who visited the USSR and saw some of its niceties with his own eyes, was also inventing, even if in his head, something like post-Orwellian prose, post-Orwellian world, post-Orwellian perception, and post-Orwellian values? He might be. 

Orwell was Kafka of his time. And his capacity is not enough any longer for description of the realities of Russia’s daily life from February 2022 onward. 

There is another phrase in ‘1984’, the essential book of mankind. And I have to admit that this phrase seems prophetic to me when I think about what Russia has become: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

Week 10: April 28 – May 4, 2022

Summary of the Week 10: April 28 – May 4, 2022

‘To Put the Red Button Down’ – Nuclear War Hysteria in Russia

Inna Rogatchi (C). After Guernica: 2022. War Pictures.. Original Art Panel. Mixed Media. 150 x 200 cm. 2022.

Towards the end of the USSR, that monstre that ruled the lives of millions like slaves, we were joking about obsession of the Soviet authorities with their false desire of ‘putting the red button down’. To everyone, just everyone, during the three decades passing from Khruschev’s idiocy at the UN and his hysterical Caribbean crisis ( for which he was really replaced by more reasonable comrades), it was perfectly clear that nuclear arsenal is the weapon of detente. 

In 1988, while working in a somewhat freed up cultural and intellectual atmosphere in Leningrad, my husband and I were the members of the theatre group which became well-known overnight. We presented our hit, based on my, in a partnership with three more friends, play,  with my husband’s set and costume design at many festivals, both domestic and international ones. Our 300-seats hall was hosting three times that capacity, with people sitting on all possible places, including the floor. Moreover, people were visiting our performance once and again, not only those who were living in Leningrad, but with steady stream of visitors from Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, and all over the late Soviet Union, from as far as Sverdlovsk ( now Ekaterinburg) and Novosibirsk, all that in an unheard for that time trend of coming for specific performance from hundreds of thousands kilometres. Very quickly, it was established also a fan club was established for this performance specifically which was literally unheard of in Russia at the end of the 1980s. 

The performance and the play was called We Are Playing the King!.. , and it was the late Soviet homage to the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, referring to Soviet reality. Among the characters of the play, there was a crazy Colonel, symbolising the militarised to the insanity part of the Soviet Army and those who were supporting that futile , hilarious in its idiocy path. That Colonel was obsessed with the necessity to put the red button. He was treated as the other inhabitants of that madhouse which was our country, by different means. Everybody laughed at the poor Colonel. He, as the rest of the characters of the play, was all too recognisable in the late Soviet society. 

As I’ve said, We Are Playing the King!.. was a super-hit during several years. We have had a lot of VIP guests as well. Once, we had not that much of a VIP, but somebody to whom our theatre’s leadership was paying a measurable attention to. He was a person with  a small unremarkable figure, and his eyes were everywhere at the same time. He was also the person who made himself invisible while in a company of more than five people, but it was clear that he was registering everything said in the room. He was a pro in these matters. He was former – former? there is no such thing – KGB. At the time, he was a deputy mayor of Leningrad. His name was Mr P. 

Deputy mayor of Leningrad was showing his enthusiasm for our performance although we all understood quite well what kind of feeling it caused among the professionals from Lubjanka. The play presented the whole country as a madhouse where the male nurse was that KGB-kind of a person, with all its vocabulary, habits, gestures, aspirations, and what had been behind it all. We knew of course that Mr P would be mad at our performance, but at the time, he was not at liberty to show his genuine reactions. He was playing the King as well as it was played on the stage. He was applauding enthusiastically, he was laughing along with an overcrowded hall ( there were a lot of funny lines in the play),  he was greeting the actors many times  going wild after the end of the performance, as the whole audience did. He could not allow himself to stay apart. Those invisible people. 

Coming behind the stage to greet us all, the deputy mayor of Leningrad was super-friendly and super-enthusiastic. He was one of us, how else. But I noticed that he did ask in his soft voice and that special feline manner whenever a recorded version of the performance exists, if so, he would be so obliged to have it. I do not recall if Mr P was provided with the record of our legendary performance. Maybe he did. I hope that he has watched it a million times. 

I remembered that episode because everything that is going on in Russia today in real life, not on a stage, is a macabre accelerating nuclear war hysteria. They crossed the line of acceptable in their own heads first, as usual. They are speaking about the possibility and even necessity of a nuclear strike daily, via different media, all mainstream ones, on TV, radio and internet. They are calling it to happen. They are instigating it. What has started as a non-verbalised probability after that very same Mr P who did not like to stay invisible any longer, very much to the contrary, ordered his defence minister and the head of his General Staff to switch the mode of the nuclear forces of the Russian Federation into the Ready-to-Go mode just two months ago, has become agitated, articulated, instigated reality in that country daily. 

In that nuclear war hysteria are involved today senior so-called journalists, professional arrogant propagandists, mini-Goebbelses of all kinds and sorts. There also are still until recently normal professional military journalists who have become somebody else, afflicting monsters. There are also all kinds of experts – and ‘experts’ , former officers, present officers, scientists, and so -called scientists. Writers  – and ‘writers’, even some of the clergy. Not to mention MPs, and all the range of officials. The very idea of using nuclear weapons is getting enrooted into Russian society at a crazy speed. It is imposed on the society in full consciousness. It is as true as it is unbelievable. 

This is not only wrong. This is sick. Deeply sick. 

Never in our life had we thought that our innocent play with that crazy Colonel trying so hard to put the red button under any circumstances and everywhere would become a hard-porn reality of that country stuffed with nukes. And that small invisible character who was smiling so friendly at our performance, who was laughing his head off at the madness of our Colonel, how come that the most ridiculous idea has come into his head in such a monstrously serious way? 

I wish I knew then. Maybe, we would write something entirely different. Cinderella’s awful step-mother turning Mother Teresa, Sleeping Beauty turning rock-star. Something innocent, something harmless, something totally undoable. 

Let’s hope that amidst all the ghastly rhetoric , their instinct of survival would wake up. There is  no point to refer to any reasonability there. But instincts may still work. I hope so. Just am thinking: where the hell are all those people who were so unique in their healthy reaction at our performances? What has happened to them? And why?

Day 70: May 4, 2022, Wednesday

NOW SWEDES ARE THE NAZIS: The New Age of Russian Racism

Well, I would not say that it is inventive. First of all, the large posters mushroomed in Moscow, with one of them next to the Sweden Embassy there is the response to the originally Swedish giant posters in Russian just opposite the Russian Embassy in Stockholm which were a good tasted and ironical, inviting staff of the Russian Embassy which is obviously left with a very little to do after the start of the Mean War, for a cup of coffee. It was nice, light and measured. 

The copy-cat response all over Moscow, and probably some more places in turned hysterical Russia is rude and idiotic. As usual. To enlighten those without Russian language command, the template reads: “We Are against the Nazism, But They Are Not”. “We’ are coloured in Russia’s national flag colours, ‘They’ are in Swedish one. The message is as simple as an axe. Russian style of conversation. 

Under the template, there are varieties of anti-heroes from ‘Them’-category. In the photo in my poster, there are actually three people condemned by Russian public propaganda: writer Astrid Lindgren, the author of Karlsson and Peppi the LongSock; cinema giant Ingmar Bergman, incredibly; and IKEA’s founder Ingvar Kamprad.  On the other version of the poster, there is also Sweden King during the WWII Gustav V who is branded as a Nazi supporter. 

As is is widely known, Kamprad was a self-identified and self-confirmed Nazi supporter who later publicly denounced his own choice in his youth. The other two giants of Swedish and world culture has nothing to do with the Nazis whatsoever. Lindgren indeed did not like Soviets, Bergman had his encounter with the pro-Nazi people who were hosting him during his student exchange short trip when he was 16. In fact, he took the facts and pictures from the Nazi concentration and death camps after the war very badly, and it haunted him for decades. King Gustav V had his input into persuading his government to agree to provide the logistics to the Hitler regime. It is a fact. But it is also a fact that it was Gustav V  who intervened personally with true Nazi Horti in Hungary on behlaf of Raoul Wallenberg and his mission. 

Very diligently, the new Russian posters are marked with the organisation who has produced them. It is the ‘Moscow branch of the “Our Victory” organisation’.  Now, Our Victory is a project conceived and runned by the main Russian political party, United Russia. This is their joint project with yet another baby of United Russia, Russian Historical Society, a pathetic anti-scientific revisionist pseudo-historical organisation run by the same bunch of officials who are in the leading positions in the country today. I think, to name them is to give an extra-advertisement to those unworthy individuals. 

The point is that an idiotic, third-class in thinking and executing anti-Swedish campaign comes right from the top of the Russia’s power. As if they have nothing better or more important to be busy with at the moment. 

Judging on the design of the prepared template for the posters accusing the entire Sweden as a country in pro-Nazi sympaties, the campaign will be continued and will target the other countries. It is very easy to put the colour of any country’s flag over those “They” word, to indicate any given country, and to place the photos of that country’s leading historical personalities, to blame via them the whole country in the alleged Nazi sympathies. 

Given the direction of the thought of the near-Kremlin geniuses , Finland could be the next, given Swedish and Finnish intention to join NATO, with all the enemies of Russia to follow, starting from their beloved enemies the UK and the USA, and to the rest of their long enemy list. 

Swedish authorities have already mentioned that they are not going to discuss at the level of Our Victory organisation. They are right. Our Victory, who?

But if there would be a proper opportunity to remind those fierce ‘anti-Nazis’ as Russian nasty propaganda, military, political elite and anyone else position themselves nowadays, to remind them about at least some from a very long list of their country’s servility before Hitler and Nazis all the time from his seizing the power in 1933 and until that ‘so unexpected’ for Stalin beginning of the Germany war against the USSR, and even after that, importantly, perhaps, it should be done to dress them down a bit. First of all, they should face their own history which they still hide all the years after WWII. Till today, their archives are closed regarding many essential documents revealing very telling episodes and facts. This is additionally to their treaty with Hitler in August 1939. Additionally to their training the Reich officers. Additionally to taking off millions of square metres of fertile black soil from Ukraine, by the way, and sending it by endless trains to whom? To Nazi Germany. Additionally to sending thousands of trains full of equipment to where? To Nazi Germany. One of my favourite documents of this sort is Stalin’s extremely nervous  telegram to his emissaries  in the West in which he commanded, or rather uncharacteristically kindly asked them to try by all means to establish the channel of communications with the Germans, as high as possible, and to try to ask Herr Adolf personally ‘would he be satisfied with having Kiev, please’? I saw this document from the Russian archives. I was later told that it has been classified back. No wonder. 

But there are extremely many facts about scandalous behaviour of the USSR’s leadership in their collaboration with the Nazi Germany from 1933 onward and with their incredible appeasing of it, plus their supplying the terrible Nazi regime by wide variety of essential resources and training their military personnel. Even from the open sources, there is more than enough material for launching an efficient educational program on who did what and who was against whom with regard to the Nazis. But of course, the geniuses who run Our Victory or whatever else of the kind are immune to the truth of history. They and the country in which they are turning Russia now is a ghost only. A ghost of truth, ghost of decency, ghost of dignity, ghost of humanity. A ghost of life. Shadows. 

Day 69: May 3, 2022, Tuesday

TORTURES OF POWS IN THE XXI CENTURY: RUSSIA’S PRACTICES

Inna Rogagtchi (C). Frost. War Pictures. 2022.

What one needs to shock an ombudsman, the person who supposedly had been used to all kinds of injustices? One needs to narrate to an ombudsman the chronicles of Russian tortures of the Ukrainian prisoners of war, as it happened recently when Ukrainian ombudsman Ljudmila Denisova was provided the information from the Ukrainian prisoners of war who were recently returned to Russia in an exchange between the side. Ljudmila Denisova, a Russian woman  from Arkhangelsk by her origin, and experienced Ukrainian politician and official, goes through gruesome experiences daily during all the time of the 69 days of the Mean War. Still, the ombudsman stated officially that she was shocked after getting the latest information from the tortured Ukrainian soldiers. The young boys were returned home, after repeated and uneasy efforts of the Ukrainian side, without limbs, with amputated legs. What has happened? 

They were forcibly taken off their boots, which the Russians filled with an icy water ordering the prisoners to put the boots on. With those boots filled with ice water, young men were placed face down on the ground, outside, in chilly weather, and forced to stay in this position for three-four days. 

It is happening now, in Europe, just next to us. The prisoners were kept blindfolded for days, they were moved blindfolded. Prior to the exchange, they were moved in cargo railway tracks, for hours. Chillingly familiar, isn’t it? Prior to the exchange, those people with amputated limbs were left by their captors on stretches just in the middle of the road, before being picked up by those who were responsible for actual exchange. 

I am  reading it and I still force myself to believe it. It is not just that the Russians treat prisoners badly. It is all another story altogether. It is that they are instructed and commanded to commit tortures, on a regular basis. It is that somebody teaches them how to do it and what to do. It is that they enjoy doing it. It is that nobody stops them , but instead, instigates them. 

It is that evil is created, added and applied on a large scale in front of our eyes. I do not even talk about the Geneva Convention and other legalities. Those who are ordered, commanded and instigate to torture openly in the way the Russia so-called army does, and who order this feast of evil give no damn about any conventions. They are living in another world. The world beyond humanity. But they are harming our world, the lives of many normal people, for now and forever. This must be stopped. And there are ways to stop it, if the body which is responsible for obliging the Geneva Convention would wake up, at last, and start to act as it should. 

Day 68: May 2, 2022, Monday

HITLER THE JEW: RACIAL THEORY IN ITS RUSSIAN INTERPRETATION, 2022 

Michael Rogatchi (C). Living Shadow. Oil on canvas. 90 x 60 cm. 1993. The Rogatchi Art Collection.

Officialdom of Russia in the face of its current Foreign Minister Lavrov has managed to stunned the world again. Importantly, Lavrov used the opportunity provided to him willingly by the Berlusconi’s owned Italian  Mediaset corporation to relay his views and statements in a lengthy interview aired on Sunday, May 1st. 

One needs to know the Italian media landscape in a closer detail, to get the full picture. Mediaset, privately owned by the long-standing P’s special and close  friend, too close one to keep a moral sanitary normality with this regard, is in a permanent rivalry with the state-owned RAI television. The Mediaset program with Lavrov aired on Sunday May 1, was simply disgusting. My Italian journalist colleagues, many of them, independently from each other, have called it, both privately and publicly, as ‘the one of the lowest, most shameful episodes in the history of Italian journalism and television’. “ It was basically Lavrov’s monologue, with servile nods and ‘understanding’ smiles by the program’s author, Giuseppe Brindici, who was literally on his knees before Lavrov”, – said by a distinguished colleague with a long career at Italian television. 

So, in that comfy atmosphere willingly created for that Russian  propaganda offensive, a senior representative of the Russian leadership aired to the world, knowingly precisely well what he was doing, that statement about supposedly Jewish blood in Hitler, comparing him with the president of Ukraine, and most importantly, about ‘worst anti-Semites to be found among the Jews’ themselves. 

Official Israel went ballistic, the passage was reported world-wide promptly, people were gaping in disgust, and even normally ready for response president Zelensky had to say that he had no words for that outrage. Our friends started to write and call us. And I? I was enraged, but not surprised, not for a bit. The same as my husband who said that he was expecting something like that to happen for a while by now. 

One needs to know the history and tradition of anti-Semitism in Russia , or perhaps live through this experience, not to be surprised by their top minister referring to possible Jewish blood in Hitler and to call Jews the worst anti-Semites. It is as sick, as cynical, and if someone is a master of cynicism in the P’s government, it is his foreign minister Lavrov who opted to use his mother’s maiden name, or the name of his step-father, there are two versions of its origin,  to smooth in his own diplomatic  career rejecting his father’s Armenian surname from the rich and prosperous family in pre-revolutionary Tiflis, current Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. 

Senior international diplomats who know Lavrov personally have told me privately that they ‘never met a more cynical person’. Dubious legacy. 

The real  message of his insulting and outrageous statement is not the one which he hoped for in their helpless fiasco on all possible fronts, military, morally, politically, etc. They, on top of Russia’s power, are very angry due to that total fiasco, and being boiling angry, they are losing control of expressing themselves. It is a known behavioural pattern. To get this low as Lavrov allowed  himself to shame his country and himself in that relaxed sympathetic towards them Italian unchallenging interview-monologue, one has to be beyond despair. And he obviously is. He got older by ten years during the last two months of constant frustration. 

Quite similar to the psychological tests on what one’s smile tells about a person, what one’s behaviour being drunk tells about a character, people’s behaviour in rage and frustration also reveals a lot about their personality. Lavrov’s behaviour being angry shows very well what kind of person he is: low anti-Semite and arrogant, cheap, unsophisticated racist. Period. 

It also shows Russia’s leadership, not just their foreign minister’s attitude towards Hitler and Hitlerism. He is an experienced fox, cautious towards reflecting the correct line correlated with the policy and views of his boss, and general outlines of the state policy. Whatever he might think and feel personally, he would never allow himself to air anything which does not reflect the mainstream of the Kremlin policy. With his – and Mediaset’s – assistance, the world now knows that Russia is back to its traditional utter anti-Semitism, updating it to the new low, version for XXI century, with refering to the Jewish blood of Hitler and insisting that the worst anti-Semites are to be found among the Jews themselves. 

If president of Ukraine Zelensky did not happen to be Jewish, the world, most likely, would be kept out of this educating knowledge.  So now we know. And the world must not only react to that, but to treat Russia’s leadership, at all levels and in all dimensions of politics, economy, and whatever else,  for who they are: anti-Semitic racists of the XXI century. 

Day 67: May 1, 2022, Sunday

 ARRESTS FOR ‘INVISIBLE SLOGANS’ IN RUSSIA

When I saw the photo which is on my work from the War Posters series, initially I thought that some of my journalist friends  working in Moscow were tired, understandably, being under such permanent pressure, and posted a senseless photo, by chance. ‘Hmm, what did they mean, really, with those kids just staying there with some dance-like gesture and nothing happening around? People get tired there, surely”, I thought. But in a minute, I was reading that what I took for a dance-like gesture was actually a gesture of a person who was holding a poster. As if. I was also reading in total misbelief that actually a lot was going on around those kids in the Red Square in Moscow. They all were arrested. In a few hours, I’ve got the quote from the police protocol of the kids’ arrest. In an official police document, it is written, black on white:” detained people were holding in their hands invisible posters with anti-government slogans’”. This is an indisputable champion in a very long top list of the causes of arrests of people in Russia  today. 

After the arrest of youngsters in Moscow for their pantomime, there is no reason, actually, to be surprised because of the series of previous multiple arrests made in many Russian cities of the people who were keeping in their hands empty A4 sheets. It quickly has become ‘a norm’ there. Orange is the new black, what a cliche. Surreality is a new reality there in Russia, and it is a mere fact. 

Critically thinking people there are thoroughly enjoying another recent arrest. It happened in Yakutsk, in the far North.  A young man who was masked all over up to his eyes, came next to the local morgue, with A4 sheet in his hands as well. His A4 was not empty. It was a photo of a bier, with a sign in Russian ‘Zhenich Prijehal’, A Groom  Has Arrived. Normal Russian black humour. But the police in Yakutsk did not get it. The youngster was promptly arrested. 

 According to several human rights watch organisations, today there have been more than 40 surreal arrests in Russia with regard to the  not obvious protests of the people, or not protests at all but people’s opinions expressed. Nine of these cases concern journalists who were supposed to conduct their duties. One of these cases is simply outrageous. Journalist Maria Ponomarenko has posted one post in her Telegram channel describing and referring to the tragedy of bombing of theater in Mariupol. She has been arrested, recently was imprisoned for two months awaiting a trial. ‘A trial’. Kafkian one. She was imprisoned for ‘violating’ Russia’s recently adopted new article in their criminal code imposing imprisonment for 10 years for ‘discreditation of the Russian army’.  Ten years of imprisonment in the Russian prison for one post in social media referring to extensively  reported all over the world world crime. 

The same 10-year imprisonment is looming for the elected politician in one of the Moscow municipal administrations, Alexey Gorshkov. He did not post anything. He just aired his doubts regarding planned celebrations for children in a conversation with colleague deputies, some of them were for his opinion, some against it. The dialogue was posted to YouTube. The deputy who in a perfectly civilised way doubted possibility and necessity to organise rosy celebrations for Moscow kids while ‘children are killed in Ukraine’, had been reported, arrested and also imprisoned for two months, with a very real prospect to get ten years of prison for the ‘violation’ of the same new article of the criminal code. His other colleague who sided with him, managed to get out of Russia before being arrested. The prosecutors are using against elected deputies such quasi-Stalinist terms as ‘motivation by political hatred’, ‘expression of negative attitude’, and alike. So, expression of negative attitude is criminally punishable in Russia today. This should be well understood by everyone. 

I have read with my own eyes, otherwise, I would not believe it, fresh  legal documents from the ongoing trial in Russia against a well-known journalist. There, in black on white is written the following: “According to the prosecutor, the Signal App installed in the journalist’s phone is a proof of his espionage activities”. Not the content of the messages in his phone, but a mere fact of installing Signal App. The fact that Signal App is used by 100% world diplomats, including their own, and the fact that Signal is used today by 40 million people worldwide does not make any difference for those prosecutors, obviously. It probably convinces them more firmly that there are 40 million spies around. 

No wonder that Russia’s general prosecutor is so busy. Poor man is as busy as ever. For example, a few days ago he in full seriousness proposed, officially, to ban ‘any symbol that could be used for the purposes of extremism. The ban should  include all memes as well”. This is a direct quote. This is what Russia’s top prosecutor is busy with nowadays. And this is for real in their vast Through-the-Glass place. 

As surreal and wild as it is, it is deadly serious. The authorities are spreading a real terror in Russia nowadays, in a preventive way, in order to silence anyone with slightest protest, and more, simply with own opinion. Or with an empty A4 sheet. Or no empty sheet is needed any longer for prompting those hilarious lines in a police protocol about ‘invisible anti-government slogans’. 

Russia, due to its perpetual irrationality and upside down surreality as a norm of life, had a chain of great sardonic writers, masters of dizzy metaphors who would be understood only by the inhabitants of that place, great Evgeny Schwartz, fantastic Daniil Kharms,  our contemporary late Grigory Gorin. They all have created eternal masterpieces stuffed with bitter-sweet metaphors of the sort of ‘invisible slogans’. But all of them, in their wildest dreams could not imagine that their masterly metaphors would be processed to such extreme, and will become reality. It is beyond any extravaganza. It is terror of imbeciles. The most scary terror of all. 

  Day 66: April 30, 2022, Saturday

SPECIAL OPERATION ON RUSSIAN TERRITORY : A WAR AGAINST BLUE & YELLOW

Inna Rogatchi (C). Life of Light. 2019.

There is only one hospital functioning in a very limited way today in once big and thriving Mariupol city. That hospital is under control of the Russian ‘liberators’ who send a doctor from Donetsk to lead it, with some of the hospital’s own personnel and some other doctors working there voluntarily – because people need help. That doctor turned out to be an honest and decent man, and without crossing the lines of endangering his own and his personnel position under the occupation, told the truth of what was going on there. And why. 

That doctor, who is trying to be calm and professional, told that under the Russian siege, people in Mariupol had to eat raw potatoes. For a long time. Which has caused a lot of sickness among a large number of people. He also said that many people had not even that. 

At that hospital, currently working there doctors and medical personnel can treat only easy cases, the head doctor said. For anything beyond it, they had to transfer the patients to Donetsk. But. The problem is that the prevailing number of people feeling sick in Mariupol, exhausted, seriously under-nourished people who are surviving the Russian siege, are refusing to be transferred to Donetsk even for a temporary treatment, even for an operation. “I keep saying to those people: please please let us transfer you to Donetsk, there is light, there is warm inside any premises, there is normal water, normal food and adequate medical services. You will be treated well. And you do need an operation. But people are refusing to go en masse. I can only guess on their motivation to refuse the treatment there ( in Donetsk”, – sighs honest doctor and seemingly a good man. 

I also can guess why stoic people from Mariupol are refusing to go to Donetsk which is under Russian and local militant gangs control even for urgent operations. They were seeing the Russian treatment in general enough to stay as far away from it as possible. 

In this hospital, the only one functioning in Mariupol partially so, there is a severe, acute shortage of practically everything. The hospital relies on volunteers, and humanitarian relief organisations largely in everything, from food to any kind of medicine. What kind of governing power is it which abandons even the hospitals in the zone under their occupation and control?  This kind of power, that conducts the Mean War. Mean Power. 

According to the official data WHO, by  March 24, 2022, there were as many as 64 hospitals in Ukraine attacked and damaged. In three weeks time, by April 14, 2022, the figure rose up to 120. Meaning almost 60 hospitals were hit in three weeks, almost twenty per week. Isn’t it too barbarian even by barbarian standards? 

Day 65: April 29, 2022,  Friday

MARIUPOL’s ONLY HOSPITAL: IN, OUT and AROUND

There is only one hospital functioning in a very limited way today in once big and thriving Mariupol city. That hospital is under control of the Russian ‘liberators’ who send a doctor from Donetsk to lead it, with some of the hospital’s own personnel and some other doctors working there voluntarily – because people need help. That doctor turned out to be an honest and decent man, and without crossing the lines of endangering his own and his personnel position under the occupation, told the truth of what was going on there. And why. 

That doctor, who is trying to be calm and professional, told that under the Russian siege, people in Mariupol had to eat raw potatoes. For a long time. Which has caused a lot of sickness among a large number of people. He also said that many people had not even that. 

At that hospital, currently working there doctors and medical personnel can treat only easy cases, the head doctor said. For anything beyond it, they had to transfer the patients to Donetsk. But. The problem is that the prevailing number of people feeling sick in Mariupol, exhausted, seriously under-nourished people who are surviving the Russian siege, are refusing to be transferred to Donetsk even for a temporary treatment, even for an operation. “I keep saying to those people: please please let us transfer you to Donetsk, there is light, there is warm inside any premises, there is normal water, normal food and adequate medical services. You will be treated well. And you do need an operation. But people are refusing to go en masse. I can only guess on their motivation to refuse the treatment there ( in Donetsk”, – sighs honest doctor and seemingly a good man. 

I also can guess why stoic people from Mariupol are refusing to go to Donetsk which is under Russian and local militant gangs control even for urgent operations. They were seeing the Russian treatment in general enough to stay as far away from it as possible. 

In this hospital, the only one functioning in Mariupol partially so, there is a severe, acute shortage of practically everything. The hospital relies on volunteers, and humanitarian relief organisations largely in everything, from food to any kind of medicine. What kind of governing power is it which abandons even the hospitals in the zone under their occupation and control?  This kind of power, that conducts the Mean War. Mean Power. 

According to the official data WHO, by  March 24, 2022, there were as many as 64 hospitals in Ukraine attacked and damaged. In three weeks time, by April 14, 2022, the figure rose up to 120. Meaning almost 60 hospitals were hit in three weeks, almost twenty per week. Isn’t it too barbarian even by barbarian standards? 

Day 64: April  28, 2022, Thursday

‘THANK  YOU FOR NOT  KILLING US’

CHECHEN TREATMENT AT the MENTAL CLINIC IN 

BORODYANKA

Inna Rogatchi (C). Tear Rain. 2022.

It happened in March. But people needed some breath to be able to tell about that. In early March, Russian ‘liberators’ seized a large mental hospital in Borodyanka, 80 km from Kyiv. Terror started, with patients got agitated, some of them on the run, three of whom were never found any longer; many in panic resorted to under their or anyone’s beds and hided inside the small closets for days. In a week of so, Chechens arrived, to a total terror of doctors, medical personnel and all the patients. Borodyanka hosted a large mental hospital, with around 700 patients there, a hundred of them bed-ridden. 

The nice Chechen squad was in a good mood. They were laughing while taking over a mental hospital from their Russian so-called brothers in so-called arms. Being obsessed with social media uploads day and night, Chechens had a working professional camera with them. They are keen journalists if you did not know. 

They commanded all patients of the mental hospital to gather in the courtyard in front of the building. It had been done. They commanded everyone to smile. ‘Smile! Smile! Smile!’ – they screamed at the frightened to death mentally ill people. People cried. And cried. And cried. Camera worked. The Chechens were unhappy. Then they tried to improve their video. Otherwise, what would they upload to TikTok? 

Then they commanded the hospital director, a woman, to start to praise on camera V.V.P. ‘Say: “Thank you, dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!” Say it now! Say it loud! Now!”  They were all with gun-machines turned towards a crowd of crying mental patients, doctors and nurses in the front of the hospital’s building. 

The hospital’s director who actually started to work there a couple of months ago, being a director of a school before, tried to think on what she must do, very quickly. “ If I refuse, they will kill us all on the spot. But I’d rather die than to thank that criminal. Yes, it is fine with me, but all those people right here and now. What to do? What to do?” Chechens were screaming: “Loud! Now! Loud!” Director said on the Chechen camera dropping the name: “Thank you for not killing us” – and fainted. Chechens were laughing like babies with gun-machines. 

By a miracle, they controlled that large mental hospital in Borodyanka for only one day. Or maybe, it was not that much of a miracle as it is known now that Ukrainian high military command was doing everything they could in that tragic situation appealing to ‘the liberators’ and sending them messages explaining who those patients are and trying to appeal to the remnants of humanity among ‘the liberators’ command. They obviously succeeded as the Chechens were replaced the next day by the regular savages. 

And the savages they all are. ‘The “ liberators” controlled the mental hospital in Borodyanka for several weeks. All those weeks there was no electricity, no water, and no heating in the hospital. The temperature there was -7C. People had to drink the technical water and they all fell ill. Twelve patients died. The personnel had to prepare some very scarce food for them on an open fire. “The Liberators’ looted everything possible and impossible. Leaving, they left most vomiting, literally, as well, absolutely sick graffiti all over the hospital’s walls. They made it in their excrements. And sick people and medical personnel exhausted during the weeks of the Russian siege, had to clean it. 

This ‘army’ is going to parade on their Red Square and may other squares in their cities soon, celebrating a 77-year old victory which they all did defaced with the excrements of their soldiers today, on the high command of a pygmies, all over it. 

Hitler the Jew: Racial Theory In Its Russian Interpretation, 2022 – Essay

The Essay was published at The Times of Israel.

Officialdom of Russia in the face of its current Foreign Minister Lavrov has managed to stun the world again. Importantly, Lavrov used the opportunity provided to him willingly by the Berlusconi’s owned Italian Mediaset corporation to relay his views and statements in a lengthy interview aired on Sunday, May 1st. 

One needs to know the Italian media landscape in a closer detail, to get the full picture. Mediaset, privately owned by the long-standing P’s special and close friend, too close one to keep a moral sanitary normality with this regard, is in a permanent rivalry with the state-owned RAI television. The Mediaset program with Lavrov aired on Sunday May 1, was simply disgusting. My Italian journalist colleagues, many of them, independently from each other, have called it, both privately and publicly, as ‘the one of the lowest, most shameful episodes in the history of Italian journalism and television’. “ It was basically Lavrov’s monologue, with servile nods and ‘understanding’ smiles by the program’s author, Giuseppe Brindici, who was literally on his knees before Lavrov”, said by a distinguished colleague with a long career at Italian television. 

So, in that comfy atmosphere willingly created for that Russian propaganda offensive, a senior representative of the Russian leadership aired to the world, knowingly precisely well what he was doing, that statement about supposedly Jewish blood in Hitler, comparing him with the president of Ukraine, and most importantly, about ‘worst anti-Semites to be found among the Jews’ themselves. 

Michael Rogatchi (C). Living Shadow. Oil on canvas. 90 x 60 cm. 1993. In the Mirror of Shoah collection. The Rogatchi Art Collection.

Official Israel went ballistic, the passage was reported world-wide promptly, people were gaping in disgust, and even normally ready for response president Zelensky had to say that he had no words for that outrage. Our friends started to write and call us. And I? I was enraged, but not surprised, not for a bit. The same as my husband who said that he was expecting something like that to happen for a while now. 

One needs to know the history and tradition of antisemitism in Russia , or perhaps live through this experience, not to be surprised by their top minister referring to possible Jewish blood in Hitler and to call Jews the worst antisemites. It is as sick, as cynical, and if someone is a master of cynicism in the P’s government, it is his foreign minister Lavrov who opted to use his mother’s maiden name, or the name of his step-father, there are two versions of its origin, to smooth in his own diplomatic  career rejecting his father’s Armenian surname from the rich and prosperous family in pre-revolutionary Tiflis, current Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. 

Senior international diplomats who know Lavrov personally have told me privately that they ‘never met a more cynical person’. Dubious legacy. 

The real message of his insulting and outrageous statement is not the one which he hoped for in their helpless fiasco on all possible fronts, military, morally, politically, etc. They, on top of Russia’s power, are very angry due to that total fiasco, and being boiling angry, they are losing control of expressing themselves. It is a known behavioral pattern. To get this low as Lavrov allowed himself to shame his country and himself in that relaxed sympathetic towards them Italian unchallenging interview-monologue, one has to be beyond despair. And he obviously is. He got older by ten years during the last two months of constant frustration. 

Quite similar to the psychological tests on what one’s smile tells about a person, what one’s behavior being drunk tells about a character, people’s behavior in rage and frustration also reveals a lot about their personality. Lavrov’s behavior being angry shows very well what kind of person he is: low antisemite and arrogant, cheap, unsophisticated racist. Period. 

It also shows Russia’s leadership, not just their foreign minister’s attitude towards Hitler and Hitlerism. He is an experienced fox, cautious towards reflecting the correct line correlated with the policy and views of his boss, and general outlines of the state policy. Whatever he might think and feel personally, he would never allow himself to air anything which does not reflect the mainstream of the Kremlin policy. With his – and Mediaset’s – assistance, the world now knows that Russia is back to its traditional utter antisemitism, updating it to the new low, version for XXI century, with referring to the Jewish blood of Hitler and insisting that the worst antisemites are to be found among the Jews themselves. 

If president of Ukraine Zelensky did not happen to be Jewish, the world, most likely, would be kept out of this educating knowledge. So now we know. And the world must not only react to that, but to treat Russia’s leadership, at all levels and in all dimensions of politics, economy, and whatever else,  for who they are: antisemitic racists of the XXI century.

Week 9: April 21 – April 27, 2022

Summary of the Week 9, April 21 – April 27, 2022

TURNING HEAVEN AND EARTH FOR UKRAINE VICTORY – psychological definite shift in the Mean War

Inna Rogatchi (C). Soul Search. Original drawing in crayons Luminance, oil pastel, with hand-applied pigment of gold on pigment print on cotton paper. Song for Ukraine exclusive series . 30 x 40 cm. Size in a museum passepartout 40 x 50 cm. Ed. of 10. 2022. The artwork is part of Inna Rogatchi charitable art appeal in support of the people of Ukraine. 

The Mean War against Ukraine continues for 9 weeks by now. It will not be finished tomorrow. As we can see, the world community needed two months to recover from an initial shock and to start not only to express solidarity with attacked Ukraine, but to think – and most importantly, to act properly to help and to assist the the brave and resilient country  attacked by the moral Neanderthals although I didn’t mean to upset the Neanderthals.  

We know that military assistance comes and reaches Ukraine. The only thing is that it comes too late. And in the war , especially in the Mean War, there is no such thing as belated military assistance. 

We also know that Ukraine gets many other possible kinds of help: financial, logistical, intelligence,  humanitarian, possible help in reconstructing the destroyed country. It is all deadly important. But Ukrainian sky is understood to be left a prey to the unqualified savage army of thugs. 

Still, the most important thing has happened during the ninth week of the Mean War. The process which has started on February 24th, 2022, from its total disbelief and all kind of arguments justifying not that whole-hearted help to Ukraine, through the horrors of Bucha, Borodjanka, Mariupol and so many other places, has transformed into firm commitment by the world not only to sympathise with Ukraine, but to stand next to it. This is a fundamental, qualified shift. A principal shift in the commitment to help Ukraine to prevail. 

In the phrasing of the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin ‘to turn earth and heaven’ to help Ukraine to win its battle, the joint decision of the collective West has crystallised. Moreover, the US Defence Secretary has made this crystal clear statement not just anywhere but at the largest US base in Europe in Ramstein, Germany. That base and its military personnel had a long and productive experience during the decades that they had been posted there, so far from their home, and so stunningly necessary in the third decade of the XXI century. I have many friends connected with the US base in Ramstein and I know that well-preserved tradition well enough.  I know that once these kinds of people and institutions are committed, they are committed. There are no ifs left  in such a context. 

Ukraine paid a very high price to be understood in the way it is understood now, and to be consciously defended by the united community of the world’s countries. Unnecessary high price, in my opinion. Unpardonably high price, with insuperable damage on so many levels. But Ukraine also was able, as amazingly as it is, to teach us all to be brave, articulated, moral and resilient. It was a much needed lesson. I hope it will be taken by all parties thoroughly. 

Day 63: April 27, 2022, Wednesday

‘A REGULAR THIRD WORLD WAR’ – STATEMENTS OF THE RUSSIAN MILITARY VETERANS

So, a serious event had happened in the Russian parliament recently, a special meeting of the Duma  ( Military) Veterans Affairs Committee. The Committee is chaired by MP Mironov, the head of the party called Fair Russia. Mironov himself never fails to remind the public that he was a paratrooper in his past. Recently, this Russian MP has gathered some attention by his inflamed public instigation to kill the president of Ukraine. “He did deserve it. He deserved it in full. It serves him right!” – a senior Russian MP was exlaming and repeating, repeating and exclaiming publicly in Moscow recently. Well, we got it: a senior Russian MP, the leader of the parliamentary party, was publicly instigating the assasination of the president of a sovereign state. 

As this was not confronted, the former paratrooper who is seemingly more militant decades after his regular army service, was emboldened to get into the Russian domestic contest of warmongers which is rather crowded. 

During his Military Veterans Affairs Committee recent show in Duma, the people present there, some who should be there to follow the mainstream of Russian politics, you see, were quite impressed, as I am hearing, first-hand.   “There was a super ultra militant hysteria there for several hours, conducted at full speed” – those observers mentioned. 

Just some of the pearls from that Duma Committee official meeting: “ There is a regular war ( which is going on in Ukraine), the Third World war” – said one official, on the record. “ It is a historical battle of the XXI century’ – said another. “ If there is a war, we should carry it all out” – said the third. 

Everyone who was speaking at the meeting was calling for far more radical military measures against Ukraine. The Committee also officially reprimanded Russia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Lavrov who repeated, due to his role and script for it, that their country ‘does not seek the change of the government in Ukraine’ . “What on earth are we not seeking the change of the government there? What else are we seeking then?” – a former MP who is still a member of the Committee was exclaiming. 

The Committee has demanded, also on the record, that Russia’s schools and universities would be running special programs for establishing ‘the correct understanding about purposes and tasks of the war among our children and youth. This is absolutely important’. 

Nobody from the present, several tens of adult men, did not call the Mean War as ‘ a special operation’. They all are former or current officers, for them to call it ‘a special operation’ and to use any kind of euphemisms is an insult. 

Those warmongers from and in Duma really demand more blood and destruction. Yet more blood and destruction. They are very agitated. They see by whatever professional eye that has left among them that their army is losing big and that it is utterly incompetent.  They are registering a professional disaster, ever subconsciously so. But their reaction to what is going on with their army acting in a way of useless barbarians is quite telling. They want it to be improved to the last Ukrainian. And to the annihilation of the Ukrainian cities, towns and villages. 

The hate behind this low militant idiocy is stunning. Even people who are living in Russia and who are professionally observing this one and the other similar official committees and bodies there are stunned. “What on the earth are they hoping for?Are they adequate? How does  it possible for the professional military to be so wall-stupid?” – the person who was present during that telling Committee meeting at the Duma was exclaiming. “In the end of that mad-house show, where everyone tried hard to be more militant than Shoigu & Co, I felt that I needed to see a psychiatrist, to check if everything is OK with me, and if I did not hallucinate all that afternoon at that Duma audience room”. – “But those one in that hall, they did not feel as if they were in urgent need of medical help although they definitely are in danger. They and the world where they can reach’,  – I said to my friend. – ‘No, – he said – they are completely occupied  by running the regular Third World War. They were waiting for that for so long”. 

Day 62: April 26, 2022, Tuesday

CHERNOBYL ANNIVERSARY in 2022

 April 26th is the date which is known to the world as the date of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. As it was not enough, 36 year after that nightmare-like day, Russian geniuses were very close to organising there a terrible repetition from the day one and thereafter of the Mean War 2022. As if it was not enough to cross the path, in the tanks,  through the forbidden zone around the deactivated Chernobyl nuclear station thus rising to the air an enormous cloud of what is known as ‘a rusty dust’, deadly, lethal dust which was left as the result of the catastrophe, to cut the way to the station, according to the genius plans of the genius tactics planned the operation in the Russian army. As if it was not enough to get people on the ground of the Rusty Forest, a no-go 5 kilometre zone on the station perimeter, so dangerous that it will stay in its status for eternity. As if it was not enough to command the thousands of ‘the liberators’ dispatched in that way on the ground to cave in trenches just inside the Rusty Forest. Whom they were supposed to defend themselves from? – I still wonder all the time. As if it was not enough to seize entire active Ukrainian personnel at the station, killing five people there and keeping hostages for three and half weeks the rest of them depriving people who were providing the security of the station – and the bloody captors, as it goes – from food, drink, bathing, and any normal sanitary condition, not mention such luxury as sleep. 

As if it was not enough to make and leave behind a repulsive mess made by stupid barbarians in the station’s premises – just check some of it on the pictures in my poster. As if it was not enough to loot the computers from the Chernobyl centre, and anything lootable from there. As if it was not enough also to loot , for souvenirs, many bottles with samples of highly radioactive liquids from the station. I wonder who would be honoured by receiving such great souvenirs from ‘the liberating operation’, or would it stay in the possession of the marauders, effectively killing them all? As if it was not enough to destroy, on purpose, as orangutans on megatons of steroids, the priceless and crucially important archive of the Chernobyl centre, with unique documentation collected and kept there during the last 40plus years. 

When those vertically-oriented orangutans retreated, solely because hundreds of them started to suffer from acute syndromes of the radioactive disease and had had to be rushed to the nearby hospitals in Belarus for some kind of treatment, Ukrainian authorities and locals who were able to visit what has been left from the neatly maintained previously Cherobyl centre, were stupefied to find such a pogrom both inside and outside it. The same stupefied was Dr Marco Grossi, the Director General of the IAEA who had to visit the Chernobyl twice by now, with his second visit was around the date which we all do remember so very painfully. Now, after that savage pogrom, the Ukrainian Chernobyl Centre urgently needs a large amount of equipment, in order to stabilise the station and its premises and maintain it safe. The orangutans who were enjoying themselves at the Rusty Forest and in the no-go zone would die within a calendar year. This is strictly medical projections. There are hundreds of them. 

Typically , not a word is muttered about Chernobyl in Russia after the truth about their just unbelievable stupid criminal activity there was told to the world after their jackal-like retreat from there. And how boasting they were on ‘taking Chernobyl under our control’ on the first day of their Mean War. Taking control for what? – one wonders. For distributing the souvenirs with lethal liquids among the orangutans without explaining to them that it is not vodka? Amazing army, indeed. A gang. 

Day 61: April 25, 2022, Monday

UKRAINIAN MELODY BY POLISH ORCHESTRAS FOR THE WORLD

On April 11, 2022, two weeks ago, there was a wonderful event in our virtual global space. Thirty eight Polish orchestras, conducted by the top conductors from Poland, Ukraine and many other countries, performed one piece of music in a special action of solidarity with Ukraine, on the initiative of the Society of Polish Philharmonics. The piece they played was Melody by Myroslav Skoryk, a very well-known Ukrainian maetre of music who died in 2020. You are welcome to see and hear this touching and masterly performance here.  

Anyone who is versed in music is aware of the long-standing fact of an exceptional quality of Polish musicians, due to the long tradition and refined way of understanding and performing of music. The brilliant performance of Skorik’s Melody is one more beautiful justification of the thesis. 

But there is so much more in that story and its meaning. Myroslav Skoryk was well-known in the USSR, which had treated his family harshly. That cultured family belonged to the Ukrainian Polish intelligentsia with backgrounds in Europe. The composer’s parents, father the professor of history and mother the professor of chemistry were both brilliant graduates of the University of Vienna. His great-aunt was nobody else than famous opera global super-star Salome Solomyia Krushelnitsky. 

Poor Solomyia who literally did save Madama Butterfly for Puccini and posterity, with the composer  always remembering it with trepidation and love ( Solomyia sang the Butterfly part for the second time and in a new edition in June 1904 at the Teatro Grande in Brescia, four months after the fiasco of the opera at its premiere at La Scala in February 1904), who sang under the button of Toscanini, and together with Caruso, Shaljapin, Ruffo, after the death of her Italian husband, the mayor of Viareggio, decided to return briefly to her house in Lviv, then in Poland. That brief return turned to be eternal, as the year of those events was 1939 and the month was August. 

A world star was confined in a few rooms in her house which was occupied in turns by Soviet and German troops, had no possibility to move anywhere from Lviv either during, or after the WWII, and left strayed and penniless there giving private lessons to earn some miserable living. She was repeatedly refused to be given Soviet citizenship thus denying her the possibility to work or pension. But she was promptly extorted by the Soviet authorities to give away her villa in Viareggio, and her entire property in Italy. 

When a poor lady of an advanced age agreed to do that under heavy pressure in early 1950s, Solomiya was provided the Soviet passport to travel to Italy and to handle the business via Soviet representatives. Being thoroughly robbed, a legendary singer was allowed to work at the Lviv Conservatory as a teacher. She was bestowed a professor title one month before her death in 1952 at the age of 70. Among a very few possessions that Salome Krushelnitsky managed to keep, there was her photograph with a signature from her good friend and colleague, they were travelling the world and performing  at the stage together, maestro Giacomo Puccini: “To the most beautiful and best Buttefly ever’. 

There is no wonder that a quarter of a century after Solomyia’s death, her grand-nephew Myroslav has authored a ballet called The Return of Butterfly about the astounding life of his great aunt. The ballet which was written back in 1978 is in the repertoire of the Lviv Opera today. It is beloved by the public. 

Myroslav Skorik and his immediate family were the same trapped in Lviv as his famous aunt. The composer was a year old at the time. He was born the same year as my uncle.  A couple of years after the end of WWII, in 1947, Skoriks family was deported to Siberia for about a decade. They were allowed to return in 1955, so the future big composer did not have a chance to meet his aunt in person, but the family in which such a star was the centre of its general and cultural life did educate Myroslav about her and her friends and colleagues’ life and input in world culture. 

The process of return of the exiled families of ‘enemies of the Soviet people’ from Siberia and Kazakhstan in the 1950s and 1960s is a separate and special saga. Many of them actually did not, many did so partially. We know is first-hand in detail, as my husband’s family was exiled to Kazakhstan from yet ‘better’ place, the Gulag Valley of Death in the Russian Far East, following the arrest of his father, regarded by the NKVD ‘the enemy of the people’ whose guilt was simply belonging to ‘the wrong’ family of the similar to the Skoryks culture intelligentsia from Poltava, of a Jewish origin as it goes in my husband family’s case, and with the same Polish multiply cultural connections which were the tissue of life in Poltava historically, as it was in Lviv.  

Myroslav Skorik has become well-known pianist, composer and conductor, and is regarded as the one of the strongest proponents of the famous and special indeed Lviv Musical School. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a famous composer emigrated to Australia and got an Australian citizenship, but the same as his famous great-aunt did  a half of century ago, he also returned back home soon. Skoryk was the leader of the Union of the composers of Ukraine and the artistic director of the Kyiv Opera in the mid-2020s, until a few years before his passing. 

His Melody played with such soul and beauty by so many Polish musicians all over Poland in their solidarity action two weeks ago, is regarded by the Ukrainians as one of their most essential melodies. No wonder why. Among the international conductors who led their corresponding orchestras in that beautiful action of solidarity in the midst of the Mean War, there was naturally the conductor from Ukraine, who is shown in the end of the video. It is a telling performance.  But  most importantly, the essence of that great solidarity  gesture is a joint emotional expression of the best which is there in the souls of those people who are not indifferent to the torments of the others, the victims of the ongoing Mean War. 

I am very grateful to the straight-back Polish musicians and their international colleagues for such a Melody. For such a memory. For such in-tuning of their and our hearts at the moment when words do not work at all.

Day 60: April 24, 2022, Sunday

The TWO MONTHS OF THE MEAN WAR : GRIM BALANCE

Inna Rogatchi (C). A War Kind of a Spring. War Pictures. 2022.

It is a beautiful spring sunny day today. There in Ukraine. And there in Russia. It is also an Orthodox Easter which is celebrated in both countries, the aggressor one and the attacked one. 

The Russian Orthodox Church has a lead today in their national celebrations, from the huge cathedral in Moscow to small ones in small cities. Their TV is all-religious today, non-stop. The degree of official state hypocrisy there is beyond imagination. Their current church leadership is just another top functioners. They are unable to be and to do otherwise. The schism between the Russian Orthodox Church leadership, their nomenclature, and many people in Russia who are believers and are against this cursed Mean War, is giant. I cannot tell how many years should pass for this schism to disappear. 

So many Christian people in Russia are grieving today, on the day which generally is their most bright holiday of hope. So many people there are saying, writing and repeating: “Jesus resurrected not here and not for us this year”. So many people are publicly deciphering Russian XB abbreviation on all their Easter cakes and many other decorations in an anti-war way. Normally, that XB means ‘Christos Voskres, Jesus Resurrected’, this year it means, for many people there,  ‘ Chvatit Voiny, Enough of War’. 

Many people decided not to go to their churches, but to stay at home, to meditate, not celebrate, alone and with one’s own family and close friends, to escape those impossibly false ceremonies at the Russian Orthodox Church officialdom. It seems to be the most dramatic, most sober, most sad Easter in Russia for many people there with conscience for the past 30 years, for the time of one generation. 

Having said all that, I have also to say that although there are many of those people with conscience in Russia today, many of those who are categorically against the Mean War, who are suffering, who are living in deep personal crisis, with great compassion towards the Ukrainian people, the victims of the Mean War, with burning shame for their country and its leadership who has entered into this mad adventure, and outright military crime, still, my friends, and their friends are in a stunning minority in that big country. 

With confusion and terror, they are saying about those thousands filing  cafes all over Russian streets, those smiling, celebrating, drinking, eating, enjoying themselves and all around. Those are people of all ages, one should not be mistaken to think that it is only elderly generation who fell victim to the unprecedented Russian propaganda and support the Mean War sincerely. 

As one of the respondents of the fresh social study conducted by two Moscow-based sociologists in three cities of Russia said to them: “of course, I am against the war. Who is for the war, actually? What are you talking about? But where do you see the war, actually? We are conducting the special operation, as we are explained very well daily, and this is not a war. Of course, I am against the war”. Of course, he is. 

This unbelievable laziness of mind, this amazing inability to think independently, this mass instinct of power does not matter how it is used. These behavioural treads demonstrated by the majority of the Russian people during the last two months, in their blind support of the Mean War, does not matter active or passive, are extremely disappointing phenomena. Many of them, especially in the sphere of culture, are worried that they would be ‘cancelled’ internationally solely because of the fact of their national belonging. They might be because the decision-making about exclusion of Russian and Belarussian cultural and sport participants at the international events would not be able to make distinctions. 

This is naturally a grim perspective, and it is quite upsetting for those people in Russia who are against the war, but still might become the victims of the international boycott to their country-aggressor. 

But in my view, much more deep and serious scars of rejection and desolation could mark those people from Russia who are laughing in their cafes today, ignoring the photos from Ukraine which each of them can easily access but does not bother to do so. This kind of indifference, arrogant, purposeful indifference, this kind of ready acceptance of utter lies, and this stunning absence of compassion among such a big segment of 145-million society is the most warning mark of the Mean War. 

Perhaps, that man in the Kremlin who has decided to go on for the Mean War, did it to a serious degree with his knowledge, understanding, or feeling of this quantity of support that he, his views, his position, his methods would enjoy in the country where his club of friends has ruled over the last 20 years. He is, or perhaps, was pragmatic enough to act ruthlessly but more or less within the margin of what was acceptable to the prevailing amount of the people in his country. 

The fact that the horrific unjustified war, with crimes committed daily against the territory and the people with whom a huge amount of Russian citizens do have family relations, not to speak about friendly and collegial ones, is supported, accepted, and does not , actually, much bother prevailing number of population, screams out. It gives its leaders a carte-blanche for ceremonial Easter rituals, with enormous pomposity, and the similarly enormous hypocrisy, not only by some individuals who behave in churches as on the Mausoleum roof, because they simply do not know a difference, but most importantly, but that extremely false church leadership who shamelessly serves the regime to its best.  

As the Mean War ran for two months now, 60 days and nights of horror and annihilation, it can be seen, felt and understood that it is not only Moskva the flagship did sink in Russia. It is the Russian society’s common conscience that sank. This is self-inflicted trauma. And self-inflicted traumas of the sort are treated the most slowly. If ever. 

Day 59: April 23, 2022, Saturday

ORTHODOX EASTER: RUSSIAN GREETINGS FOR ODESSA

We knew that Russia’s commander-in-chief and his military would avenge the sinking of their Moskva flagship. There were various ideas among the experts regarding the possible targets. Experts are aware of strategic and tactical flaws in the present Russian warfare, flaws so stunning that the size of their army does not decisively matter, actually, so much below any level of quality it is. Still, experts were expecting significant military targets in Ukraine to be chosen by the aggressors to strike their revenge for their flagship sanken in the Black Sea. Military is a key-word here. 

But in the morning of the Quiet Saturday as a day before Easter is known in the Orthodoxy, Odessa was attacked by seven Russian missiles which most likely were fired from their submarines in the Black Sea there. Two of the missiles were intercepted by the Ukrainian air defence forces. The rest five attacked the residential areas of Odessa wounding 18 people and killing eight people, including three generations in one family, all women, grandmother who was just over 40, her daughter, 20-something young mother, and her just three-months old baby Kira. 

Three-months-old baby girl.  Three generations in one family, in one hit. On the Quiet Saturday on which, according to the Orthodox customs, one should not even get slightly irritated, not to speak on anything else. 

 Many people lost their words by these barbarian actions of those who started and still conduct the Mean War, for two months by now. But I think that we should not retreat to that mode. We should name the things by their names. We should demand accountability for committed crimes. The Mean War should not be allowed to happen. Not in the first place, not after two months of barbarian savage attacks. 

Those who assume the right to kill innocent people should be stopped immediately and treated for who they are, military criminals. They did show to the world, not just to Ukraine, what their religion is. They did it on the most sacred time in the Orthodox calendar – but what do they care? Anyone who might suppose that spiritual values of humanity means anything to the Kremlin bosses and their military, is not on this planet. 

Once, in my book “Ten Commandments in the USSR”, the book which researches and explains the Soviet mentality and how it has been formed, I wrote: “Those who are apologetic for the Soviet regime, are either idiots, or scoundrels”. Either one did not give a damn on the value of a human life to praise the USSR, or one was a total jerk unable to comprehend the reality in which 250 million people lived as in the prison ( minus nomenclature and the KGB and around). 

Today, I would say that anyone who finds any apology for the butchers from the Kremlin is not an idiot any longer. The openness and real-time availability of information deprive potential idiots from that escape of an absence of the information. 

Today, those who tolerate the actions of the Russian military and those who direct it, are either patented cowards or simply despicable creatures.  Would it be a chain of German former chancellors, third-class plebeian French and Italian politicians, trembling power figures in Austria, nasty mental machos of the both sexes in Hungary or Serbia, greedy German, French or Italian industrialists, or pathetic as ever Western commies  intellectuals of all kinds and sorts.  We should not be interested in their motives, there are usually just two: money or compromenational material against them in Russian possession. 

Orthodox Easter Quiet Saturday Russian bombing in Odessa just did show once again, graphically, tragically, who they are: jackals. Stupid, lazy, uneducated, unable, lying, brainless, soulless primitive criminals. 

Day 58: April 22, 2022, Friday

RETURN OF UKRAINIAN REFUGEES: UNPRECEDENTED PHENOMENA

Inna Rogatchi@. Hope Against Hope. Blue & Yellow Song for Ukraine series. 2022.

When I heard it for the first time, I thought that there is a separate case. It was in the midst of the frantic evacuation of the Ukrainian civilians from their homes, a hectic flee, with all kinds of emotions involved. My friend told me that in the middle of an uneasy journey in the car towards Poland, some of her distant relatives decided to return to their homes. ‘How come? Why?” – I asked. We all knew that the situation was precarious there. – “Well, they just want to return to their home. They do not want to go to the unknown”, – my friend told me. Those several women did return to their homes from the middle of the way of their small group of a few cars. They were using auto-stop to get back. 

But day after another, I was and still am learning that Ukrainian people are returning to their homes en masse. I have noticed that many of them, in Poland, Germany or France, did not like to register as refugees. “We want to work, we do not want to be refugees” – they have told one friend who helps them in Berlin, and to the other one who does the same in Paris. They also believe that to be ‘a refugee’ is somewhat shameful, degrading them in those societies where they had to flee from their homes and their work. 

As the Mean War continues, more and more refugees from Ukraine moved back to their homes. That steady process was unfolding to the degree when the number of the people returning to Ukraine has become larger than the number of those who are leaving the country. It happened a couple of days ago. This is an unprecedented phenomenon. It does tell a lot about the Ukrainian people, their attitude to their life, to their country, and to their way of thinking and living.  

 It was overseen, in my view, with not enough attention and understanding given to this important feature of the Mean War. 

The refusal of a large number of the people who had to flee their homes to become refugees, and to keep that status,  their willingness and intention to work in the new countries and circumstances speaks powerfully about dignity and self-respect. The return of hundreds of thousands of the people from Ukraine back to their homes in the midst of the war tells about their caring about their country and their belonging to it. 

This is a luxury for a huge amount of the inhabitants of Russia. Since Karamzin and Pushkin, since Gogol, Chekhov, Saltykov-Schedrin and Turgenev, we know from generation to generation , once and again, how a huge bulk of Russians dislike their motherland. They always wanted to study abroad, to work abroad, to travel abroad, to buy abroad, to live abroad. There always was and still is that powerful disbalance in their own society and in their own lives, for very many of them, between sharp dislike and criticism of practically everything ‘here at home’ and over-rosy perception of so many ever-attractive features for them ‘there abroad’. 

As one of the current descriptions goes: “ The true Russian patriot today has his children living and studying abroad, his apartment in London or Berlin, his summer house in Spain or Italy, and his working position here in Russia’. 

It always was like that for very many people in Russia, and I do not believe that this feature would change in the foreseeable future.  

But I still  am thinking about so many Ukrainian people who are returning back to their country, their cities, their homes, under the Russian bombs, despite the war. And I am proud that I was born in Ukraine. I really am. 

Day 57: April 21,  2022, Thursday

EASTER TRUCE UNFULFILLED

Inna Rogatchi@. Expectations Failed. War Pictures. 2022.

A few days before an Orthodox Easter on the coming Sunday April 24th, 2022, Antonio Gutteres, the UN Secretary the General, extended an appropriate gesture, both political and human-wise. He addressed the presidents of Ukraine and Russia with a suggestion to introduce an Eastern truce, at least for a several days period. Ukraine agreed momentarily. Russia did not. Telling, but not surprising for a bit. It would be surprising if they would agree, and yet more, if they would keep the promise. 

As far as I can see, nobody in Ukraine was holding breath in this expectation. They know their neighbour much better than well-disposed top officials from Portugal, New York and many other civilised places.  

They know the real attitude of the Russian leadership towards matters spiritual which, in fact, is an obscure illiteracy. They also know what those mediocres with nukes at the top of the power pyramid in Russia are fascinated with, apart from gas & oil prices and logistics. That Russia’s bosses’ true fascination goes undeservingly for militant quazi-myths, a surrogate anti-science rubbish which is extremely attractive for the circle on the top of the Russian power today. 

So, no, unlike Mr Gutterres, Ukrainian people did not expect a miracle of an Eastern truce from their neighbour who is determined to destroy the entire country. So determined are they that they did not even bother to pretend or to impose, even temporarily,  a kind of normal human behaviour in the society celebrating Easter.  

 But still, the UN Secretary General decided to visit both Ukraine and Russia in his forthcoming trip in an effort to establish the conditions for the direct peace negotiations  between the aggressor and victim presidents under the UN patronage and in the Turkey premises. That ‘s all fine. Every sincere effort is worth it. But for all wrong reasons – and all wrong messages -Antonio Gutteres decided to visit Russia first. This is just flat wrong. The right diplomacy with this kind of tyrants is true, as medical, as it gets. Otherwise, they will continue to behave in their boorish mode of an outcast. But what is more serious and what really matters, they will continue to destroy.