Russian culture “the most powerful weapon of Russia”

When Arkady Babchenko’s documentary novel “The Color of War” was published in 2007, I had a cramp in my heart. The world was shocked and upset when reading why there was such an outrageous level of violence in the two Chechen wars.

‘Russia has always been violent’

Arkady Babchenko, who was conscripted into the first Chechen war in 1995 at the age of 19 and volunteered for the second campaign, explained everything in his novel: unbridled violence in the army, sadism, brutality, madness, exploitation and indifference on the part of the military. People of Russian society. He settled accounts with those who, for poor equipment, sent him to war “against his Russian-speaking people” – as the book once said.

The war in Ukraine, in many places like Mariupol again against their own people, is a bad idea for Arkady Babchenko. “Russia has always been violent,” Babchenko explains in an interview: “In Chechnya, for example, there was official torture and concentration camps. Soldiers killed, set fire, tortured and destroyed everything. Just as they did in Syria. The commander in Ukraine General Alexander Dvornikov was also In Syria and Chechnya.I know him personally.I served under his leadership in Chechnya.

Excessive violence by the Russian military – a structural problem

Dornnikov is known as the “Butcher of Syria”. Arkady Babchenko does not want to talk about him any more. The writer and journalist – Babchenko who has worked for Novaya Gazeta, a critic of the Kremlin for many years – lives dangerously anyway. In 2017, he was forced to leave Russia. He went to Kyiv, where he made headlines a year later for faking his assassination with Ukrainian intelligence. A scheme to uncover an actual assassination plot against him. He does not want to reveal his current whereabouts, he left Ukraine. But the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine hangs in his living room.

In “Ten Pictures of War”, which Arkadyj Babchenko puts it at the beginning of his Chechen novel, he says: “The cold, dampness and dirt drove us out all feelings. Only hatred remained, and we hated everyone in the world, including ourselves. “The hatred and cruelty have now led To fuel many war crimes in Irbin, Bucha and Mariupol. For Arkady Babchenko, there is a structural problem behind the excessive use of force by Russian soldiers.

Historic constant: violence against “our people”

Russian society cannot be compared to European society, he said. “Society is subject to politics. In Russia, on the other hand, there is only the“ Russian people ”and that is the whole population: separated and isolated people. There is a saying from the days of the Gulag that says “You die today”, I am tomorrow. This is still true to this day. A country where half its population is trapped in camps and the other half is guarding them cannot help but be violent.”

The refusal of the majority of Russians to face the horrors of the Stalinist past has a profound effect on the present, and even breeds new monsters. According to Arkady Babchenko, culture has long ceased to offer a way out in this situation, but rather it is part of the problem.

Culture is no way out

Babchenko even calls them “the most powerful weapon” of Russia. It’s more powerful than TV, although TV actually has an amazing effect. Television is a unique weapon in history against its own inhabitants. Unfortunately, I also experience this in my family. But the Russian culture is also strong because it is followed by Russian tanks to defend the Russian language and culture.”

The abuse of culture by those in power in the Kremlin – one of the supposed reasons for this war being the protection of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine – is a heavy burden on Russian art, literature, and music. In any case, Arkady Babchenko only wants to accept authors who provide enlightenment and write according to the tradition of Varlam Shalamov. Shalamov was imprisoned in the Gulag Prison from 1937 to 1951 and documented daily life among forced labor, violence, and starvation in several volumes. He once noted that “camp is the deepest reason for life”.

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