By Tatyana Orel
– Valery Vladimirovich, you have recently returned from Ukraine where you have not been since the events on Maidan. What are the impressions?
– My friend and I walked on Maidan. Of course, it looks absolutely differently now, it is all washed up with shampoo… There is a photo exhibition there now, one of the pictures shows our tent with the Russian tricolor – Committee of Solidarity with Maidan. We put it on February 24, right at the corner of the House of Labor Unions. While I was walking on Maidan, I was called by a rather high-ranking Russian communist who asked where I was. Having heard that I was in Kiev, he was very much surprised: "How?!". Many people in Russia think that if you start speaking Russian in Ukraine, you will be either beaten or killed. But I only met nice people in Ukraine. In Lviv, I decided to buy a vyshyvanka and some souvenirs. Learning that we were from Russia, sellers dumped prices. And I was also surprised when I turned on the TV in the apartment where we lived, and got on the Russian "Channel One". I asked one of our Lviv friends why they had not switched off the Russian television, and she answered, that people may look, listen and compare to the real picture. The Belarusian television works there, too. I was struck by this freedom.
– You found a grave of the guard major K. S. Putin on the Lvov cemetery. Is not he a relative to the Russian President?
– I do not know. It was written on the tombstone that he had been killed in 1945. There are a lot of graves to the soldiers of the Soviet army who fell in the Great Patriotic War on the Hill of Honor. Soldiers of the Soviet army and soldiers of Ukrainian Rebel Army are buried on the old cemetery, all graves are well-groomed, it is clear that they are looked after carefully. And now there are also new graves to Lviv military personnel who were killed on the so-called East front. I was struck by the respect people treat their memory with: a great number of flowers on graves, candles, Christian crosses, benches for those who want to sit down and stay alone with this memory. I could not resist and filmed a report for Moscow on a small video camera; it is for the Russian journalists to compare how soldiers are buried in Ukraine and in Russia – those who were killed in Donbass, allegedly "having got lost" during their leave.
– Those who are buried secretly or are not buried at all, nameplates on graves destroyed, and obvious facts concealed...
– Yes, it was quite the case in the village of Vybuta near Pskov. And on the Northern cemetery in Rostov-on-Don, one of the locals found fresh burials, hastily buried trenches where dead bodies were simply dumped. Crumpled plates with names and without names show out of the earth: simply "N.m." – an unknown man. There is a version that these are Russian conscripts and volunteers who died in Rostov hospitals of the wounds inflicted during the war in Donbass.
– You happened to talk to the paratrooper Kichatkin from Pskov who was proving that he was safe and sound while his relatives were already making a funeral lunch…
– It began when I saw his surname on the Internet, found his page in VKontakte where his wife Oksana wrote the day and time of the funeral and asked to come everyone who wanted to bid farewell to him; she gave the phone, too. It was on Sunday, and the funeral was appointed for Monday. By the way, this page in VKontakte was blocked soon. I decided to call this number to find out whether the sergeant Kichatkin was really lost and to express condolences. I dialed the number and heard some cheerful prompt with children's voices that surprised me very much. Then a woman answered. I introduced myself, said that I was a journalist and asked whether her husband had really been killed... The woman replied in a playful tone that she was not Oksana, but Oksana Ivanovna and that her husband was alive and she could even pass hum the phone. A person with a strange, hoarse voice talked to me, ‘Yes, I am Leonid Kichatkin, and I am fed up with your calls.’ I asked, ‘Were it you who blocked the page in VKontakte?’. He answered, ‘Yes, because I am fed up with this.’ I apologized and wished him all the best. And the I saw the photo of Kichatkin’ grave on a cemetery in Vybuta on the Internet the next day. I realized that it was the grave of the person to whom I talked yesterday. I dialed the same number again, but it was already disconnected.
– Probably, the captain of the Federal Security Service Oksana Ivanovna carried another responsible mission at that time and could not speak …
– Perhaps so. But I did not notice any highly intellectual game in the conversation. They could hire some drunks from among informers so that they would answer the phone taken away from Kichatkin's wife, or readdress the calls.
– You wrote in the blog for the site of Ekho of Moscow that the Russian activist and Maidan participant Vladimir Malyshev was refused the Ukrainian nationality. What was the cause of refusal?
– According to recent information, he was promised a political asylum in Ukraine. But I know that others also face the same problem. Someone, for example, was at war in the ATO zone on the side of the Ukrainian army, and it is dangerous for them to come back to Russia now.
– It is dangerous to remain in Russia not only for those who were at war on the side of the Ukrainian army, but also for those who do not hide their views on Putin's policy ….
– I know that the political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky cannot obtain the Ukrainian citizenship for a long time, either. The journalist Evgeny Kiselyov told me that after the parliamentary elections in Ukraine he will try to obtain the Ukrainian nationality, too – I hope, he will not be refused. Many sound-minded people who think about their children’s future want to leave from Russia to Ukraine now, – after all, Russia is gradually turning into a fascist totalitarian state. It would be good if the new Ukrainian parliament supported the bill submitted yet in March – about the simplified procedure of obtaining Ukrainian citizenship by Russians who refuse from the Russian citizenship as a protest against the invasion of Russia into Ukraine and annexation of the Crimea.
– Judging by the data of opinion polls, there are not so many people like these in Russia…
– 84% of Putin’s supporters is a delusive figure. When a person is called and asked whether he supports Putin's policy, it is clear that his name, surname and address are already known, and he is simply afraid to answer "no". But if the question was formulated differently, for example, "Would you like your children to battle for independence of Donbass under the leadership of Girkin, Bezler or Motorola?". Nobody would not answer "yes". One thing is to answer that you support Putin's policy, another thing is to send children to war or to go to war yourself.
– And still there are people at war: not only tens of thousands of Russian military personnel who intruded in Ukraine by the commander’s order, but also volunteers who convinced of the right to "protect" Russians in Ukraine from "Banderist fascists" …
– Remembering World War II, we were always surprised: well, how could such a great nation which gave birth to Goethe, Schiller, and Kant go mad and make this idiot Hitler their leader, how could it sink to fascism? We are the nation of Pushkin, Gogol, Chekhov, Dostoyevsky, and now it is as if God told us: look what can occur if you do not think with your brains. But Russians consider that it is better to trust the TV. After all, they can open Ukrainian sites and watch Ukrainian channels on the Internet to understand what is actually happening. But it appears that most of people in Russia use the computer only for entertainments – to watch a film, to write a letter, to play, to upload photos with kitties in Odnoklassniki. But they do not want to search for information and to use their brains. And why should they? A person learns something new and starts feeling uncomfortable, he destroys the world image received from the TV. Besides, it is more convenient to think like everybody around: like friends, like neighbors or like colleagues. This herd instinct makes people zombified. I once studied the activity of the so-called destructive, totalitarian religious sects, how they manipulate consciousness of the adherents. I can tell you that mass media manipulates the consciousness of Russians in the same way today. I think, all the latest methods are used for this purpose. In the 1950s, after the end of the Korean war, it appeared that the American soldiers who were in captivity came back home as if they were absolutely different people. They spoke well of the Koreans in spite of the fact that they kept them in holes, they had a sense of guilt before the Korean people. Then the term "brainwashing" appeared.
– So, it is not simply a metaphor, but a scientific term?.
– Unlike the whole world which is full of sins, we are good, we are the chosen ones and we will be rescued. Europe is "Gayropa", Americans are Septics. There are also such terms as "love- bombing ", "guruism"…
– It is not by chance that even children praise Putin as a "guru" in their songs: "May the Kremlin not wallow in chaos and the evil, may you become the guarantor of peace for us, Russian president", and Zhirinovsky suggested renaming him the Supreme governor…
– Yes, and Russia is the last resort of the good, justice and orthodoxy. Not only Russian mass media, but also Russian Orthodox Church are involved in the process of "brainwashing", in fact, it blesses what Putin is doing in Ukraine.
– And the Russian orthodox army is fighting in Donbass… How can orthodoxy be possibly combined with aggression?
– It is not combined in any way, it is absolute nonsense. By the way, Girkin who was commanding fighters in Donbass comes from a Konstantin Malofeyev's environment; he is a famous orthodox oligarch close to Patriarch Kirill. In January, before the Russian occupation, the so-called Gift of the Magi were brought to the Crimea (the Gift of the Magi are the supreme shrine of the Christian world, they are kept on Mount Athos in St. Pavel's monastery in Greece. GORDON). It is quite possible that it was a cover for a special operation during which Girkin or someone else assessed the situation on the peninsula, and he could go to the East of Ukraine with the same purpose. There was an intercepted telephone conversation between one of field commanders and Moscow on the Internet; it said that the Kremlin was dissatisfied with Girkin’s sharp statements about Putin – as if he "let down" the fighters and that the Novorossiya project would be closed soon. And the reaction of Moscow was commented on according to the leader of Moscow man's monastery father Tikhon Shevkunov. Many people call him Putin's confessor, but I think that this is not spiritual counseling, but some other relations. According to one sound-minded priest, the confessor can even tell the tsar, "You act wrongly". And a person who runs after the child and pleases him is not a confessor.
– You say that the Russians are influenced by means of sectarian organizations. But what can you say about famous singers, composers, actors who compete for honor to compose and perform the anthem of "Novorossiya", go to Donbass to sing for fighters, and proudly take photos with those who kill civilians and tortures prisoners in cellars? It is hard to believe that it is so easy to "brainwash" these people…
– They are simply conformists, they serve the government under any regime, they just want to live comfortably.
– KOMformists, you mean... But Makarevich is not among them for some reason…
– Yes, and his concert in Perm has been cancelled recently. The reasons for cancellation of performances for his likes can be most different – firefighters picked on something or the tickets did not sell, for example. And I know firsthand as the member of the Union of cinematographers of the Russian Federation (KinoSoyuz. – GORDON) how the power supports its favorites. This association is an alternative to Kremlin’s courtly Union named after Nikita Mikhalkov. In due time I and my companions – more than hundred people – responded to the appeal of our Ukrainian colleagues, artists and cultural figures, and signed the Address in which we criticized false propaganda of the Russian mass media and military intervention of the Russian troops into Ukraine. We said, "Carry on, we are with you". As a consequence, we were refused financing of our festival of non-live-action and documentary films "ARTDOKFEST" which had always been among top ten. The president of the festival Vitaly Mansky asked only one million roubles from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. He was told that there appeared many new festivals in Russia that needed support on the first basis. Among them was the festival Artem Mikhalkov's, son of Nikita Sergeyevich; it was given 20 million roubles. 10 million were allocated for a festival of the Rybinsk diocese – there is the district of Rybinsk in Yaroslavl region. There was enough money for the organization of the Crimean festival of the Russian patriotic cinema.
– Well, patriotic education in Russia is a matter of state importance. Who will sing odes to Putin but for specially trained patriots… Are there films about the events in Ukraine among the "ARTDOKFEST" movies?
– We have a separate award "Laurels"; three movies about Maidan were nominated for this award. Another movie is dedicated to the freed Slavyansk. This year the subject of Ukraine has to sound very loudly.
– You had imprudence to offend the young figure skater, Olympic champion of Sochi-2014 Yuliya Lipnitskaya on your page in Twitter, having called her "an honored asswipe of VVP". What for?
– I will tell at once that I apologized to Yuliya on the site "Tula News" just the next day. You see, there are moments when you get very tired. And Twitter is a place where people let themselves go a little. That evening, Viktor Shenderovich wrote that Yuliya Lipnitskaya is a remarkable figure skater, but she, like it or not, supports Putin's regime with her victory. Everybody attacked him at once, and I tried to support his idea that many people create the reputation of invincible Russia with their achievements, but it took a form of this offensive phrase that people still cannot forgive me. Now I among the "national traitors", too, but I am glad that the company is a remarkable one: Makarevich, Ulitskaya, Shenderovich and other very worthy people.
– You offend some and protect others: I mean your readiness to appear in court on the case of the Pussy Riot punk rock band…
– I did not have a chance to appear in court though I was declared as a witness of defense and an expert. I was then holding a position of the Deputy Head of the Missionary Department of the Tula Diocese of Russian Orthodox Church. As a theologian, I wanted to take the floor and explain that there was no blasphemy on the part of the girls from Pussy Riot during their action and that the orthodox references that the prosecution relied upon, were given in a perverted and incorrect fashion. However, only institute teachers who were teaching girls were asked from among the witnesses. What struck me at this process was that I was the only representative of the Russian Orthodox Church who came to protect the girls in a Christian way; of course, they made a silly thing, but it did not deserve two years of imprisonment any way.
– Apparently, the girls’ appeal sent during the punk prayer in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior "Our Lady, send Putin away!", has not been heard yet…
– Probably, so. And though we cannot scold God, Russia now approached such a moral state when God is obliged to stir it up, maybe, even with some terrible events. It is unlikely that Putin will moderate his appetite stopping on the Donetsk-Melitopol line. There has to be an outcome, an explosion. I think something will clear up by the next spring.
– When someone painted a star in yellow-blue colors and hung out the Ukrainian flag on a skyscraper roof on Kotelnicheskaya Embankment in Moscow at night August 20, you gave an interesting idea that it can be "a black tag" to Putin from … his team – the Russian oligarchs. Do you still think so?
– People who are engaged in works at height convinced me that it is impossible to set up such a huge flag and to paint a star by oneself and that several persons had to participate in this action. Besides, there is an office of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation on one of the lower floors of this building, and people or a group of people had to pass this floor unnoticed when they were climbing up the wall. It suggests an idea that it was not an ordinary Ukrainian roofer, but rather serious people performing someone's task to send Putin "a black tag" telling him to finish war. The secret is not revealed yet, but I still stick to this version.
– Well, Russian oligarchs who are now victims of the Western sanctions can have their own scores with Putin. But, probably, there could be such desperate daredevils among regular honest Russians. After all, hundreds of thousands of people were not afraid to go for the March of Peace, though they waited for provocations from the authorities …
– Personally for me, The number of participants was the most important thing in the March of Peace. We sang the Ukrainian anthem and cried out the "chants" heard in Ukraine where many of us happened to be more than once. Now Ukraine is not a simple geographical point for us, it is a symbol as well as Maidan. A symbol of the fight of the people of the Post-Soviet states for freedom from the bandit authorities. I was surprised that it were intelligent elderly Muscovites who especially liked the song of Kharkov football fans "Putin – la-la-la-la-la" – they were very inspired by it. A Georgian man in a vyshyvanka was walking next to us, his compatriots ran up to him, embraced him and shook his hand. Lena Vasilyeva who created Gruz-200 group in Facebook, prepared about fifty photos of the killed Russian military men and signed each of them by name. These pictures put on usual school rulers had a shocking effect. One thing is when information on the casualties is at the level of gossip, and quite another thing is when you see faces of these children, you read their names. There were cadets of internal troops in the cordon. It seemed to me, all of them understood that any of them can be sent to Ukraine the next day, and they will be killed, too. But what for? For Putin? For the Russian world?