|Peasant kissing a soldier of the "Army of Liberation" on a Soviet propaganda poster issued after the joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland.|
A while back I tweeted the link below as a means to have a way of storing and sharing important pieces of information. After tweeting for a while, I've found that Twitter is not a good way of accessing stored information, that the blog does this far better.
So here is Russia is a Lie, by Boris Schumatsky. It's important to keep what you read in mind whenever Russia says anything. So many people whom I thought would have known better have been taken in by Putin because they trust what they are reading.
The greatest difficulty in dealing with Russia is this: Russia lies. This blanket assertion sounds like a slogan from the Cold War, and yet it's the only one that does justice to reality. ... Today not only do I write that the country of my birth has become an empire of lies, but that Russia itself is a lie.
...only one thing matters: who is strong enough to impose his truth on his opponent. Putin actually has nothing against NATO, he had initially wanted to join it himself. Now he only claims the right to do the same as all big players of geopolitics in his opinion do, the right to betray and murder. Vladimir Putin and his followers didn't encounter these rules by reading philosophical texts. They learned them on the streets.
... The Putinist only believes in one thing: lying as a way of life. Whoever grew up, like Vladimir Putin or I, in a large Soviet city learned this already at primary school. You get surrounded by a group of bullies. One of them says: "you ratted me out to the teacher", although it's the first time you see him. If you say "that's not true" you get beaten up immediately. If you apologise you will first be mocked. And then beaten.
Cries of victimhood coupled with a clenched fist is not an unknown gesture. Putin's Russia, which jumps into the ring like a world power, complains about Western intrigues. The Kremlin is well aware of the weaknesses of the Russian state, its economy and its military. But in a street-fight one hides one's weaknesses. Your opponent should think you are strong. Your opponent should piss his pants. He should believe that if he doubts your lie you'll punch his teeth out. He can de-escalate, as politicians the world over have been trying with Putin. He can call out: 'Peace!' - with the effect that you will also shout 'Peace!' - and then strike.
If the victim doesn't defend himself against the lies he also won't defend himself against the violence. He will be beaten up, and the attacker has already won from the moment that his victim didn't call him a liar.
Needless to say Russia isn't a nation of thugs who ruthlessly shoot down passenger planes. Needless to say there is another Russia - more than one in fact. But the diversity of Russia has been banished into internal and external exile. As long as the illusion holds, the millions of potato farmers, mathematics teachers, bank cashiers or publishing editors can achieve just as little politically as those who, like me, have left Russia. Only one voice is now heard in Russia. It is the voice of the collective Putin which leaves you speechless.
...The postmodern concept of plurality of truth is being riddled with bullets in Ukraine. Putin is imposing a return to reality. Realpolitik is being displaced by the real, by the old-fashioned adventure of naming things. The luxury of relative truths and devalued values is gone. In Russia the lies have triumphed once again, and once again only simple, black-and-white language does justice to this drama. Solzhenitsyn wrote it thus: "Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence".