Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Being Honest

The Russian text of the long interview with Anna Politkovskaya by the Israeli journalist Natalya Mozgovaya - the original interview was made last winter - has been published on the InoPressa website. Veronica Khokhlova at Neeka's Backlog has already linked to the Live Journal text of Mozgovaya's interview, which appears to be identical. Excerpts from such a discursive, deeply personal, but at the same time absolutely relevant and topical text may be unsatisfactory. Yet there is one passage where Politkovskaya steps out beyond her role as a chronicler and historian of the Chechen conflict to talk about the Russian people as a whole. And this, I think, can be excerpted without loss (though this only my translation):
They say that the Russians have exactly the government they deserve.

Certainly. Because if tomorrow millions of Russians were to take to the streets with a protest against that same Fradkov, who doesn’t do anything – he wouldn’t be there. But there’s none of that. Yes, a part of people understands that this is Putin, and that it’s a path [put' = path in Russian] to nowhere, to a catastrophic degradation of the habits and the few rudiments of democracy that existed under Yeltsin, who was also a contradictory figure – but in those days the people spoke. But now I walk into some store, and without fail someone will approach: "Oh, Anya, we support you so much, we so understand what you’re doing" - but they always speak softly, almost in my ear. One could discuss for a long time why this has happened. But I think it’s because KGB officials have been placed in all the key positions. And the genetic memory of people is such that THIS can't be resisted. Unfortunately, the only people we have with the ability to resist and raise their voices are the National Bolsheviks. Not as Limonov supporters, but in principle – the glaringly nationalistic movements. The Russian fascists. They can get people together, and they possess this fearlessness... And that creates big problems for the democrats, because if the people are made to rise up - who will we get? It’s these folk that we’ll get. It’s not impossible that if people are made to rise up on some pretext, the result of that rising will the accession to power of such a type, that...

That it would be easier for you to reconcile yourself to what you consider to be the lesser evil?

Better the evil we know than the evil we don’t know? No, I don’t see it that way. But we must be honest. We mustn’t reconcile ourselves to the lesser evil, fearing that a greater evil may come. One must fight to the end.

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