четверг, 18 сентября 2014 г.
Putin's aggression has left Europe in pre-war state, says top Russian writer
By Luke Harding
Russia's pre-eminent literary novelist today warns that Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine amounts to a "black hole" that threatens to suck in the whole of Europe.
In an essay for the Guardian, Mikhail Shishkin says that Russia's aggression in Ukraine has left the unsuspecting European continent in a state of "pre-war". He says that unlike Russians – conditioned to expect violence by remorseless state propaganda – Europeans have not yet grasped "the new reality that has set in".
Shishkin is considered by many to be his country's greatest living author . He is the only contemporary writer to have won all three of Russia's most prestigious literary prizes, including the Russian Booker. Resident in Switzerland, he faced official vitriol after refusing to take part on a Kremlin-sponsored literary tour of the US last year. Shishkin said he didn't want to represent a country where "power has been seized by a corrupt criminal regime".
The son of a Ukrainian mother and Russian father, Shishkin describes Russia's president as a "one very lonely ageing man" and "an insipid colonel" terrified of losing power. He says the "demise of Hussein, Mubarak and Gaddafi" and the flight of Ukraine's leader Viktor Yanukovych spooked Putin, and prompted his seizure of Crimea in the spring and attack on eastern Ukraine.
"The instinct of self-preservation kicked in immediately. The formula for saving any dictatorship is universal: create an enemy; start a war. The state of war is the regime's elixir of life," the writer says.
Shishkin suggests that under Putin – who denied there were Russian troops in Crimea, only to later admit with a grin that they were there - Russia has gone "back to the Soviet times of total lies". The novelist says that ordinary Russians are complicit in this lying, with the survival instinct under which Soviet citizens "lived for decades" now emphatically back.
"When Putin tells blatant lies in the face of western politicians, he then watches their reaction with vivid interest and not without pleasure, enjoying their confusion and helplessness. He wants Kiev to return on its knees, like a prodigal son, to the fatherly embrace of the empire. He is sure that Europe will boil with indignation, but eventually calm down, abandoning Ukraine to brotherly rape," he writes.
The novelist – whose latest work The Light and the Dark appeared in English translation last year - is sceptical that western sanctions will have any effect in Moscow. Rather, he says, Russia is ready and psychologically prepared for further conflict. It is already in "an undeclared war against the west". His conclusion is bleak: "One needs to realise: post-war Europe has already become pre-war Europe."