Putin and the Girl on Skates

10 February 2014 

By Viktor Shenderovich

Source: Echo of Moscow

The Olympic civil war that already took wing on Facebook during the Games’ opening ceremony has exposed, like an open nerve, the eternal question: where does their state end and your country begin?

Tolstoy, the Constructivists, Gagarin and Korolev, and you sit there and turn up your nose? You don’t love your Motherland!

The opposite variant: Chechnya, Magnitsky, Putin with his friends from Petersburg, theft and usurpation, and you sit there and drip saliva in the form of the multi-coloured (Olympic) rings?

So that there should be complete harmony during such ceremonies it’s best to be a complete idiot.

And little by little, the thinking human soul, of course, is torn in two.

Is it possible for me not to be delighted by the Russian alphabet, not to be proud of my participation in a unique civilization, and not to wish for a beautiful 15-year-old skater from my own country to win gold?

And is it possible for me not to understand that Lev Tolstoy, the Constructivists and the 15-year-old skating beauty have been brought together for the purpose of making us quite forget, carried away as we are by our enthusiastic praise, about all the theft that is going on and the blood that is being shed?

Can I be glad that Putin has put Lev Tolstoy into harness and the Count is now serving without fail an important administrative function?

That’s how we live in this schizophrenic world.

Nothing is new under the sun.
People of my age and fans of an older generation will remember both this feeling of being torn in two, and these accursed questions…

Would it have been possible not to support Mikhailov, Petrov and Kharlamov?

And would it have been possible to fail to understand that the wonderful fledglings from Tarasov’s nest were representatives of an army and a country that had just occupied Czechoslovakia?
That the Soviet national anthem for the Czechs would be the same for us as the Horst Wessel song?

There was no way this could not be understood.
The number 68 worn by Václav Nedomanský meant that there is no sport, nor can there be, that is separate, distilled, with no admixture of politics. And many of the older generation at that time supported the Czech team…

I was very young, and it wasn’t that I considered them traitors, I simply had no idea that such a thing was possible!
Now I have grown up, and I understand.

I truly admire this young girl skater.
Very much so! But if you knew how Berliners in the summer of 1936 admired the shot putter Hans Woellke, the first German athletics champion, a smiling young guy, handsome, a symbol of the youth of the new Germany!

But something prevents us from celebrating his victory.
Now we know the the price of this sporting achievement – the price, that includes Dachau, and Coventry, and Katyn, and Leningrad…
Hans, of course, was not directly to blame for any of these things, but it turned out that he helped it come about.

A witches’ brew is a thing with a complex recipe.
It includes very sweet-smelling herbs to deceive you about what the brew really contains.

‘When the State begins to kill, it is called Motherland,’ is how Strindberg put it.
And how true that is, but not just back then!

The State, the executive, mimics the Motherland all the time, and the more insistently and brazenly it does this, the more there are grounds for it, the executive, to get a scolding from its own people.

The never-ending hysterical series of patriotic celebrations which accompanies the Putin regime, low on legitimacy as it is, from the Eurovision Song Contest, via sporting victories to the forthcoming football World Cup, is the best confirmation of this witches’ recipe.

The Olympics, of course, are an excellent opportunity for them to play the Motherland card. They don't want to talk about Sechin and Churov, or Bastrykin, but only Kirill and Methodius, Barma and Postnik, Korolev and Gagarin!

And here, caught where it hurts on the very issue of patriotism, even the members of the cursed intelligentsia feel awkward on account of their own opposition-mindedness, and, like Shiites, they begin to beat themselves with their own chains till they bleed.
And this young girl of genius, flying over the ice, catches up and carries aloft the Putin regime.

At the same time raising our chances of falling down miserably.

NB: Some hyperlinks have been added to this text - ed.