War with Ukraine reveals hypocrisy of Russian intellectuals

Political cartoon by Oleksiy Kustovsky

Political cartoon by Oleksiy Kustovsky 

Analysis & Opinion

Article by: Ihor Losiev

The Russian-Ukrainian war that entered its hot phase in 2014 has contributed to the erosion and destruction of many relatively stable myths about relations between Russia and Ukraine. It also has jeopardized the continuation of a certain number of pro-Russian illusions, though not all, if one believes opinion polls that indicate that half of Ukrainians still view Russians as “brothers” after what Russia has done to Ukraine. These people say it is Putin who is personally guilty of everything.

Nonetheless, something has changed significantly, including the myth about the Russian intelligentsia — specifically the notion that it is the “conscience of mankind,” not to mention the “conscience of the Russian people.” This myth was created through the efforts of the Russian intelligentsia itself, which has not disdained self-promotion and self-glorification for at least two centuries. The well-known thesis of the writer Fyodor Dostoevsky about the so-called “global responsiveness” of the Russian people belongs here.

Creeping admiration for a dictator

For Russian intellectuals, the aggressive war against Ukraine has served as a kind of test that they have largely failed. The creeping admiration for the actions of a dictator, the joy at the seizure of another’s property, the fear of having an independent opinion (that differs from the mob), the complete spiritual and social dependence on authorities have revealed the true face of the Russian intelligentsia, (which calls for even greater respect for its individual representatives who were not afraid to become modern Russian dissidents).

In fact, even earlier, there were suspicions and revelations in this regard among  Russia’s intellectual leaders. This is what Anton Chekhov, a good representative of Russian intelligentsia, wrote about it:

“I don’t believe in our hypocritical, hysterical, rude, lazy intelligentsia. I don’t believe in it even when it suffers and complains, because its own oppressors always emerge from its own midst. The entire intelligentsia is guilty — all of it, my friend. As long as they are still students, these are honest, decent people — our hope, Russia’s future. But as soon as the students go on their own and become adults, then our hope and the Russia’s future vanish like smoke, leaving only dacha-owning doctors, greedy officials, thieving engineers.”

The current educated class in Russia has confirmed Chekhov’s opinion resoundingly. Writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, scientists, doctors, and professors have written hundreds of letters supporting Kremlin’s aggressive policies. Crimea became the insurmountable test.

The collapse of Russian democracy

This test finally exposed those Russian intellectuals who have cultivated their democratic reputations for decades, although certain chauvinistic-imperialistic manifestations could be detected even earlier. But Crimea forced them to reveal themselves fully because this situation represented an existential choice between good and evil. A few Russian democrats tried and continue to try to “tip-toe on the minefields,” saying that aggression against Ukraine and the seizure of its territory is bad, but that it is still a good thing that Crimea is Russian and that Russia has benefitted.

There is the example of the “registered Russian liberal” Leonid Gozman who writes: ” If processes similar to those that took place in Scotland and Catalonia had been carried out in Crimea, the supporters of independence and even possibly the supporters of union with Russia would have won.”  In other words, the taking of the peninsula was right, but not with such brutality. Ukraine should have been wounded less painfully, more aesthetically and intelligently. This summarizes the democratic beliefs of the Russian intelligentsia in their entirety. It goes without saying that processes, in contrast to actions, are not directed by anyone. They happen spontaneously and unconsciously. And no one has any doubt that there are distinct nations such as the Scots and the Catalans with their special cultures history,  and mentality. There is no “Crimean people,” as there has not been nor will be a “Donetsk” or Luhansk” people. Thus, the “democratic”  Mr. Gozman had demonstrated a completely imperial lust when he failed to mention the only distinct people on the peninsula — the Crimean Tatars, who alone have a legitimate right to national self-determination.

And the “last hope of Russian democracy,” Alexei Navalny, while recognizing the illegality of the Russian annexation of Crimea, nevertheless stated that “Crimea is not a sandwich” to be passed from hand to hand. Therefore, when Russia occupied it, Crimea was this sandwich, and when the problem of returning it to its rightful owner came up, then Crimea suddenly stopped being a “sandwich. In his interview with the Dmytro Gordon publication several days before his assassination, the former Russian State Duma deputy Denis Voronenkov said that Navalny is an FSB agent, who is used to infiltrate the anti-Putin movement. “Don’t be fooled,” he said. “And I really advise Ukrainians not to delude themselves. Crimea will remain part of Russia and in the near future will not become part of Ukraine.”

Yet another Russian democrat, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, spoke in the same vein: “In the democratic system that I would like to see in Russia, it will not be possible to return Crimea to Ukraine,” he said. Thus, the former oligarch and Putin’s  prisoner dreams about a ” democratically chauvinistic empire” that must retain everything seized from neighbors at any price — an empire with no regard for international law (nor for the borders of other states). In other words, he, too, is convinced that the general principles of world order do not apply to the new-old Russia.

Yet another Russian “democrat,” Irina Khakamada, exclaimed enthusiastically about the dictator’s “genius”: “Crimea was transferred to Russia peacefully and calmly and Putin professionally managed this blitzkrieg,” she said. Apparently she does not even fear that the last word in her remarks quite clearly places Putin on a par with another politician, who also successfully launched his blitzkriegs, but who finished very poorly.

What can be done?

Despite the anti-Ukrainian declarations of the Russian “democrats,” Ukrainians will regain their lands and will build a powerful and effective state but under one indispensible condition: the complete rejection of all pro-Russian illusions — the naïve and destructive belief in “brotherly Russia,” which never existed, does not exist, and will never exist for Ukrainians, the expectations (typical of some Ukrainian intellectuals) of ” a democratic Russian intelligentsia,” the idea of a “common history” (can a colonizer and the colonized ever share a common history in the best meaning of the term?), the faith in the “good Russian people” who  differ fundamentally from their evil government. In short, Ukrainians must dispose of everything that makes up the imperial propagandist junk that has so lavishly polluted the minds of millions of Ukrainians. What other horrors must the Ukrainian people still experience in order to erase the imperial myths from their consciousness forever?

Ihor Losiev, PhD, is a political scientist, journalist, member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, and Associate Professor of Cultural  Studies at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Source: Radio Svoboda

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  • Mr. Jackson

    Ukraine is not a Country. It tried and tried but it can’t.

    • Liever

      Right! The pathetic JEWNAZZIS AND CATHOLIC POLAK TRASH FAILED IN UKRAINE! THE KIEV NAZZI JUNTA WILL BE LIBERATED BY RUSSIA SOON!

      • Vasyl P.

        Ukraine doesn’t want to be “liberated” by russia.

      • Mr. Jackson

        INDEED !! The day is coming when UkrNaZZi would pay for all the terror they inflicted on innocent East Ukrainian population. Thousands of the churches that Vatican agent Stalin gave to Vatican should be returned to ROC also.

        • Alex George

          The Russian Orthodox Church no more deserves to be called a church. It serves the state rather than God.

          The day is indeed coming when the Kremlin and its supporters will pay for all the terror they inflicted on the east ukrainian population,

          • Mr. Jackson

            1,000’s of churches stolen by Vatican under watchful eye of the Vatican’s Shill Stalin has to be returned to its rightful owner Russian Orthodox Church. – Amen!!

          • Alex George

            The Russian Orthodox Church has forfeited its right to be called a church. It is no longer Christian. All it’s churches will be taken from it.

            And don’t pretend – you love Stalin, just as putin does.

          • Mr. Jackson

            All 1,000 plus Russian Orthodox Churches stolen by Vatica through your beloved Vatican Shill Stalin would be returned to Mother Russia. But more Importantly when is Banderistan Going to Pay that $3bn Loan and Interest Back to Russia …. The Longer it is left the Larger the Amount ! Ouch, this hurts!!

      • Dirk Smith

        Your gay dwarf’s days are numbered. Back to driving taxi for you…… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b0f915b243e36b1dd497bae0fa98bdb3ca48b9b7fb663934545a03d2b16a763.jpg

        • gmab

          This is how the older Commie gays had to dress to survive. (except guy taking photo)

    • Vasyl P.

      Ukraine is slowly getting itself back together, every move leads to blood curdling screams I’m sure but they’re trying. Compare to russia that bans websites that promote its dead constitutional rights and executes opposition, even including DPR/LPR officials who tried to stray too far from russia control.

      • Mr. Jackson

        Ahmm… If this was true, which is not anywhere except in your imagination, the proper way was to wait for Yanoukovich’s turn to end and then elect whomever you want. That was the right way. Instead, you resorted to violence, acted as foreign agent and light the Kiev on fire while eating Nuland’s cookies.

        You then pursued Russian speaking population in the way that made them feel very unsafe and not want to be the part of your mass-murdering “democracy”. What was your response? You banned Russian language, burned innocent people in locked buildings, attacked them with choppers and tanks and you call this democratic? NO! it is NOT! The force will be met with greater force and then LVIV UkrNaZZi will be put in its place.

        • Vasyl P.

          Nope, Ukrainians didn’t oust Yanoukovich. He fled Ukraine to Russia, all on his own. He knew after the massacre he had he police do in Kyiv he’d be kicked out by Rafa, with no protection. And quit giving that idiotic claim of Nuland’s cookies. Do you really think America would bake revolutionary cookies?

          Also, Russian isn’t banned. They want to promote Ukrainian, which isn’t the same thing. However, speak Ukrainian in Occupied Crimea, and the true Nazzis will beat you up and shoot you. Also if I remember, much of the bloodshed is in the hands of DOR/LOR/Russia/other Mafia states

          • Mr. Jackson

            Stop spreading LIES. We all saw how the things developed in Kiev, day by day.

          • Vasyl P.

            Yes, we did, and your version isn’t how it came to be

          • Mr. Jackson

            In all “Color Revolutions” it is the CIA who steps in and introduces shooters once enough people are on the streets and when chaos consumes the event. We’ve seen this SAME scenario, time and time over, it in Country after country, not to go in specific here but you are welcome to research and see you will.

            Ukraine is being duped and now is available for the grab. Reservist will not help you. UkrNaZZi, those evil animals who garbed power would be destroyed like they were in WWII !! And they should be.

            If you are a true democrat and want democratic Country out of Ukraine you would let people freely express themselves. You would allow local goverment more power, instead of treating them grad missile and bombs. this will take you nowhere but down. Yet you cannot see that and that is a problem.

          • Vasyl P.

            Maidan wasn’t a color revolution.

          • Quartermaster

            Always flag troll posts as inappropriate. The Mods eventually get the message and ban the troll.

          • Liever

            YOU SHUT THE [email protected] UP YOU UKRATRASH! YOU PIECE OF SH!T POLISH CATHOLIC NAZZI! YOU lie all the time, like PORKY your little JEW puppet! WAKE UP AND STOP SUCKING YOUR BISHOP, POLAK TRASH! UKRAINE TURNING NAZZI BECAUSE OF YOU AND YOUR KIND!

          • Vasyl P.

            Poor Ruskie troll, mad, flaming up to your ears. Using material disproven long ago.

          • Liever

            UKRATRASH! NAZZI! BANDERA WORSHIPPER! CRIMINAL! THIEF! KEEP CLEANING TOILETS IN KHARKIV YOU PATHETIC EXCUSE OF A FAILED ABORTION!

          • Dirk Smith
        • gmab

          Russia’s warped & unrealistic point of view & propaganda. Regurgitated by morons onto every site that even mentions Ukraine. Face it, Ukraine is a sovereign country and is going its’ own way. Russia could have been mature about this but threw a PUtler tantrum and as much as he tries to crush Ukraine the exact opposite is happening. Russians’ dependence on dictators & murderous maniacs throughout history gave you Putin. Truly baffles most civilized nations that Russia is oblivious to its’ own death rattle.

        • kievjoy

          Strange that all my neighbours are Russian speakers and many of them are in the Ukrainian army. Many of those considered too old for the army have joined the ATO, and these are people who speak Russian, not Ukrainian.

        • Murf

          Is that why most of the Azov Regiment are ethnic Russians.

      • MichaelA

        Hi Vasyl, this guy Mr Jackson used to be “Njordheim” before the mods banned him. He’s a complete fruitcake. Thinks i am about three other people. Also is convinced that some mysterious “Mig-22” was exported to Syria by the Russians. Don’t believe a single thing he says

        • Murf

          He is living a life of Illusions.
          Or is to delusions?
          For some reason he is convinced I am Polish.
          At other times Jewish,
          And even Croatian.
          And something called a Khazar Mafia.
          I have no idea what that is.

    • zorbatheturk

      You are a dummkop.

    • Murf

      Russia is not a country.
      It is a shared delusion.

  • veth

    Russians love war and fascism. 5000 Russian soldiers killed in Donbass, whole Russia applauds. Putler: killing Syrian babies with gas is no crime, killing 180 schoolchildren in Beslan is no crime.

    • Mr. Jackson

      Million Americans wounded in Iraq and the Country rejoice. Did you notice that too or only you care about Russia?

      • MichaelA

        You really are an idiot. A “million Americans wounded in Iraq” – try 4500 casualties in over ten years

        Found those “mig 22s” yet?

      • Murf

        So it’s your contention that the US lost more to Ira than to the entire Axis powers of WWII?
        We were only there for 6 years that’s 160k average per year. We never had more than 150k troops at one time.
        So you actually think the entire occupation force was killed off each for six years?
        And nobody but you noticed.

    • Dirk Smith

      Ukrainia is the gay dwarf’s graveyard. He’s done…..

  • zorbatheturk

    RuSSian intellectual is an oxymoron. A RuSSian is simply a moron.

    • veth

      Zacharenko, the fascist leader of DPR wants to to speak with Poroshenko personally about ending the war…………………hahahaha

      • zorbatheturk

        This guy needs to be in jail. He is a criminal.