Team 29: How to fight Lucifer

posted 27 Nov 2019, 12:39 by Translation Service   [ updated 27 Nov 2019, 12:44 ]

23 November 2019 

Hi. Natasha Korchenkova here.

Late last week, I started to read the book The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo, author of the well-known Stanford Prison Experiment. He has dedicated his whole life to studying the nature of evil and has come to the conclusion that hidden influences in a situation can override the will of even the best person. However, writes Zimbardo, there are ways to counter unwanted social influences.

I still haven’t finished the book, as we spent every day (and night) this week working on a special project on former political prisoners. But as it turned out, the project itself ended up being a little guide on countering evil. It was five interviews with very different characters from several post-Soviet countries – about how to survive a prison experience, not give in, and keep going. The Azerbaijani politician Ilgar Mamedov spent five and a half years in a prison camp for standing against the permanent president of the country, Ilkham Aliev. Aleksandr Feduta, having helped the Belarusian President Lukashenko in his first elections, supported the opposition candidate in 2010 and ended up in a KGB isolation cell. The activist Dmitry Dashkevich, also from Belarus, was put away twice for protesting against election rigging. Andrei Barabanov was sentenced in the ‘Bolotnoe Affair’ – they are using the same formula right now in the ‘Moscow Affair’. And the pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who was sentenced in Russia to 22 years and returned to Ukraine after being cleared, ended up a political prisoner once again, only now in her own country.

What unites all of them is the fact that even after surviving prison, and aware of all the risks, they remain the same people. Mamedov is preparing for the next election cycle, Dashkevich continues to put crosses on the graves of victims of Stalinist repression near Minsk, Barabanov helps political prisoners and prepares meals according to prison recipes with guests on his own show.

It’s likely that you won’t share all the characters’ views, ideologically. Certain statements of theirs may surprise or annoy you. But that is precisely why we wanted to bring up our interview series: no one should be persecuted for their position. This is because respect for others serves as a guarantee of our freedom – even if that’s the freedom to say things that we find unpleasant or thoughts that we find abhorrent.

Before I go, I recommend that you have a listen to our podcast. It’s dedicated to Egor Letov and the political persecution of his group ‘Civil Defence’. In general, though, it’s also about the most important thing: freedom. There’s lots of great music in the podcast, too. Don’t miss it!

iTunes | SoundCloud | VK | Android | Yandex.Music

Have a good weekend!

Natasha and Team 29

Translated by Lindsay Munford