The Russian poet, singer and playwright Yuliy Kim, like many of his peers (he was born in 1936) comes from a family of the repressed. Father Kim Cher San, a translator from the Korean language, was shot in 1938, mother Nina Vsesvyatskaya was in exile for more than 10 years. Caution must be the main feature of his character.
But he became a dissident, he participated in the human rights movement from 1965, signed collective letter addressed to the authorities with the demands to observe human rights.
His satirical songs, like the songs by Vysotsky, Galich, Vizbor, Okudzhava and other bards, were sung by Soviet intellectuals in the close company of friends – around campfire and in Moscow kitchens. Unsophisticated poetic metaphor often enciphered what people did not dare say aloud.
The idiocy of Soviet dogmas seemed to be over and done with. But people with the sense of inner freedom still feel dissidents in Russia today. While there is only one official authority in the country – the president of the Russian Federation – things cannot be different.
Therefore, his recent "Song about the fifth column" with the following line, "Russia after the Crimea went crazy through and through" was presented by Yuliy Kim in the USA, he they sang it with his friends in Israel, but he will certainly not be allowed to perform it on a Russian stage in the near future.
On March 1, 2014, he came to the Maidan, and three weeks later he signed the statement of the participants of Intelligentsia Congress "Against war, against isolation of Russia, against restoration of totalitarianism."
"We, representatives of Russian intelligentsia, are obliged to warn the authorities against making a historical mistake – the desire to take control over another, recently fraternal country of Ukraine with the help of the Russian armed forces. The first step – annexation of the Crimea to Russia – has already been made, first blood has been shed."
A lot of blood has been shed since then – blood of both Ukrainians and Russians...
– Yuliy Chersanovich, can the "bad guys" from your "Song about the fifth column" change anything in Russia today?
– I cannot imagine how they can do it so far. Not so many people dare tempt their fortune by participating in rallies and demonstrations when they can be sentenced for at least two and a half years for this. However, the authorities have to manoeuvre somehow. The story with Navalny brothers is a good example. They did not dare put him to prison, but they did everything to shut his mouth, they put his brother to prison as a hostage. Platon Lebedev is another hostage; he is not allowed to go abroad in order to keep Khodorkovsky on a short leash. The method of hostage-taking used in the USSR is also practised in Russia today..
– In one of your interviews, going back to the Soviet times, you remembered the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party and Khrushchev's report "On the Cult of Personality and its Consequences," that exposed terrible crimes of the Stalin epoch. You said that this event somehow brought people from under hypnosis. In your opinion, what can bring the Russians from under hypnosis that make them shout "Crimea is ours"?
– The current regime in Russia has driven itself in a deadlock from which it is simply necessary to find a way out, otherwise it will collapse together with the country. This need is growing every day. The regime will have to seek a way out and make serious concessions. Otherwise, society will come into play.
For example, Saddam Hussein presented all his defeats as victories – both the story with Kuwait and the war with Iran. Victory monuments were erected in the centre of Baghdad commemorating these defeats. But it will not work this way in Russia. So the affair is coming to a head.
– Today, emigration from Russia has reached its peak for the last 15 years. When leaving the country temporarily of for good, people say that it has become stuffy and scary in Russia. You are especially susceptible to stuffiness from the Soviet times. Do you feel it in Russia?
– Yes, it is a perfectly fine sense of growing lack of air. It was once said about Block that he died for lack of air. Many years later, in the early 1980s, before the appointment of Gorbachev, Okudzhava answered practically the same to the question about how he felt, "I'm dying." He lacked air, too.
Our unthinking Duma puts forward initiatives that restrict artists in different domains. The latest "achievement" is a scandal concerning the film by Andrei Zvyagintsev "Leviathan", in which people often swear and drink vodka.
– You have a wonderful, funny and, at first glance, simple song "Inner Voice", which performed from Putin’s second self. What do you think, does the inner voice of real Putin whispers only what its master wants to hear, or do you admit that there can be a kind of internal struggle. After all, he was taught something in school, he was read kind fairy tales before bedtime...
– There is no point in trying to reveal Putin's inner world by his actions because he is a very practical and pragmatic person, he is a good tactician but a poor strategist. He is certainly a very reserved person. Playing open games is his state necessity.
– Today, a year later, Ukraine recalls the tragic events on the Maidan. You happened to be there, too, though a little later, in March, when Yanukovych had shamefully fled the country, and it seemed that the worst was over. Did not you have a premonition that Putin will not forgive Maidan to Ukraine?
– I was on the Maidan on March 1. The day of shooting in Institutska Street had already passed, but I followed the trail of those events. The atmosphere on the Maidan made a very strong impression on me.
I realized, I felt, I knew that Putin did not like what was going on in Ukraine, but I could not assume that this will be followed by the seizure of the Crimea (although there was some movements already, but it did not come to the invasion of "green men") and then Donbass. No one would have thought that Putin could venture that.