By Tatyana Orel
The other day the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation initiated fraud procedures against the owner of the “Bureau 17” company Aleksandrina Markvo – the civil wife of Vladimir Ashurkov, the colleague of Alexei Navalny. Markvo is suspected of embezzlement of capital allocated by the Moscow authorities for the literary readings for carrying out in parks of Moscow.
As the RF IC confirms, writers Dmitry Bykov, Boris Akunin, Victor Shenderovich, Lev Rubenstein, TV hosts Tatyana Lazareva and Mikhail Schatz participated in these actions. Bright representatives of the Russian opposition appeared in the general list probably "accidentally”.
Here is the excerpt from the press release of the RF IC:
"The investigation received documents according to which Schatz and Lazareva in 2011 received about 1 million rubles from JSC “BUREAU 17”, however none of them could remember what the actions were … Boris Akunin, as he heard about a call to the investigator, left out of the borders of Russia, Lev Rubenstein and Victor Shenderovich refused to communicate with the investigator at all, referring to Art. 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. This reaction makes us reconsider what those people were doing in the project organized by Markvo and her entrusted people like Vladimir Ashurkov who gained scandalous fame in connection to the election campaign of Navalny".
The writer and publicist Lev Rubenstein (his name also appeared in this case) does not doubt that it was politically motivated.
In September of 2014th he signed the application with the requirement "to stop aggressive adventure: to disengage the Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine and to stop propaganda, material and military support of separatists in the southeast of Ukraine". Then he went for the March of peace "together with those who keeps immunity to aggressive lies" as he wrote in the blog on "Moscow Echo".
Today, besides working on books, Lev Rubenstein, according to him, "writes for different "Facebooks" much, calling it as a new type of writing. And once, in the 70th, having no opportunity to publish books and to be published in magazines, he wrote down verses on ordinary library cards which became a peculiar collection of his compositions. Thanks to the genre of "card file" that he created himself, he entered the history of literature as the writer-inventor.
Lev Rubenstein considers that the writer, who is not interested in anything, is an example of social autism. Therefore he does not deny that he is also responsible for the events happening in the Russian society today.
So he is doing everything he can – "by means of letters and words"
– Lev Semenovich, do you think the criminal case against organizers of literary actions in parks of Moscow will become indicative, or the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation simply wants to scare both those who are suspected, and those who were witnesses, – so that they would behave well? Though they understand that for "good" behavior both from you, and from Dmitry Bykov, from Boris Akunin, and from Victor Shenderovich it is senselessly to wait …
– Now it is impossible to predict anything, events develop very unpredictably. I think, they want to scare us at least. They decline names of people whom they know and read, the names that from their point of view are anyhow connected with opposition.
Let's assume, the ordinary person looks through some text, in one paragraph sees a surname, and in other – the word "fraud". They lay account on that nobody will ponder upon an essence. As it is said, whether he stole, or someone stole from him, who knows... Generally, spoons were found, but disagreeable sensation remained. But I do not understand what it is possible to incriminate to writers who came, acted and left.
I participate in some festivals approximately once a month. And I definitely cannot remember who called me two and a half years ago and where I was invited to. I learned surnames of organizers of readings in parks only because of this investigation. And in general what relation to the budget of a festival the invited authors can have? It is undoubted that the investigation is politically motivated. At times of corruption the RF IC became interested in "Books in park", it is simply ridiculously. It is almost the same that to catch the person who crossed the road on red light when someone was being killed nearby.
– Were you invited to interrogation as the witness?
– Yes, I was there. It was called "investigation verification". I came with the lawyer, and we decided that I simply would not answer their questions. Not because I have something to hide but because those agencies have a remarkable ability to overturn any statements upside down. The lawyer told: you don’t want the investigator to use your words in another context. So I answered only some specific questions, and we left. The investigator, by the way, was very kind, did not even show any surprise. And now in the press release of the RF IC our surnames began to sound again.
– According to the press release, Boris Akunin, having received the request of summons, left Russia quickly? He thought it was a serious reason for departure, didn’t he?
– It is a lie. When the request of summons came, Boris Akunin was not in Moscow any more. They either do not check the facts at all, or lie consciously.
– You once told that since youth you got used to treat surrounding reality as climate. Do you manage to do the same way today?
– No, unfortunately. It was during Soviet years, in the years of my formation and growing. After all I lived more than 40 years in the USSR. Then reality, including not only policy, but also life, culture, and type of social relationship, I and all my environment marked the word "Soviet". And we all treated everything as the climatic phenomenon which does not depend on us. If it’s raining – it is necessary to open an umbrella, if it is cold – to put on some warm clothes. From what, actually, any personal behavioural strategy was followed. We tried to fence off from this "natural phenomenon" the different ways.
But the Soviet space was created out of us and before us, we already were born in it. I cannot take no credit for this. It happens now, with us, in some sense with our participation and with our connivance. Therefore I do not decline all responsibility. And I build creative strategy already from this feeling.
– You write the way you hear and breathe. Your columns on "the Side. Ru", on "Moscow Echo", in Facebook read those who think the same way you do. Others simply do not visit your blogs …
– No, everyone comes – as obliged. I know about it.
– So it is specially trained people, as they say. But most of ordinary Russians don’t think as you do. Do you often fight? Computer is not the same as daily communication in real life …
– I was lucky: my closest friends are not struck with this epidemic at all. All of us appeared to have immunity. And I am very happy for myself, – it is obvious that I am able to form my friendly circle.
But I know that there are a lot of dramas in many families since spring events in. It was clear before who treats what and how. But today demands new judgment. I am not ready to explain anything yet simply because I do not understand anything too.
I often hear sad stories now as, for example, "my mother was the sane person, and now she watched too much of the TV, and now I cannot find a common language with her". This propaganda machine, unfortunately, works
– And if to imagine that suddenly there was a miracle and the TV was disconnected all over Russia… Russians would start recovering then?
– I would not even call it recovery. Probably, some sharp symptoms would be removed. Recently Different people including educated ones became ill with imperialism after all these events. But if the Russian television suddenly sharply replaced their strategy and a tonality, sharp symptoms would be removed in few weeks. But we cannot expect it soon.
– Do you watch TV?
– No – I keep my nerves. But it is not possible to be fenced off anyway – either someone retells news, or I see the discussion of some program in Facebook. So I do not watch TV, but necessarily I know what’s there. And there is an accumulation of quite calculated madness. Though, it is, of course, just the simulation of madness. But it seems to me that if the person pretends to be a madman long time, he will infect himself.
There is not so many of desperate cynics. And people with the remains of conscience cannot think of themselves as cynical bustards. And here he carries out the order, but inspires himself that he thinks the same way. This is the property of human mentality.
– The other day the head of the Russian church awarded one of the main Kremlin propagandists of Russia, the television cynic Dmitry Kiselyov with the Order of St. Sergius of Radonezh "for diligent work for the benefit of church and Fatherland". You consider Kiselyov consider as a criminal. The church, in your opinion, sincerely thinks that God directs "Kiselevs"?
– The church is also various, as well as all the society is. I, for example, know very decent orthodox priests, I have many orthodox friends. These are normal people. But Russian Orthodox Church is a government institution which replaces with itself that in the Soviet years was called "ideological department of the Central Committee of CPSU". These are absolute functionaries.
– And they like terrestrial pleasures. Everybody remembers, for example, as in the 2009th, during visit to Donetsk of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill, the cameraman showed his Breguet watch worth up to 36 thousand euros. Then the archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin declared that the affected wealth is necessary "to reflect public prestige of church".
– Once I very careful asked one my religious friend about her opinion on these "Kirills" and "Chaplins". She answered with grief: "A problem is that they do not believe in God".
– Recently one more rewarding took place: Kadyrov received the medal "For Merits in Ensuring National Security" instead of getting penal for burning of houses of relatives of the Chechen fighters.
– There is nothing to be surprised of. The central leadership of Russia and Putin personally need Kadyrov, he is their deputy in Chechnya. Kadyrov is the wild person, it is obvious. But he is allowed to do everything. He preserves this relative peace in the most dictatorial ways – he shuts mouths, burns houses. Cynical violation is at all levels, and lawlessness becomes a norm.
– Judging by the recent proposal of Valentina Matviyenko to recognize illegal transfer of the Crimea by Khrushchev to Ukraine in the 1954th, indeed laws are with ease in Russia. Why the Russian politicians do not hesitate to look so ridiculously?
– In psychiatry it is called as lack of criticism. I have a feeling that they live in conditions of lack of feedback, and at the same time are deprived also of relationships of cause and effect. Speaking metaphorically, they do not look in a mirror at all.
One my friend, ex-deputy of city council who knows this all, told me somehow: "They tell all these nonsenses in order to attract attention". It is so-called public relations, – so that they are not forgotten.
Zhirinovsky uses this technology for many years. He simply opens his mouth and says everything he thinks. Everybody knows him, quotes him, and he doesn’t need anything more than that.
– By request of NTV channel the extremely action movie "Russian Character" will be released soon. The scenery takes place in the Crimea where the main character struggles with Banderas.
– Yes, in the wake of fresh events.
– Oh My God...
– According to the announcement, the movie is shot in the best traditions of the Russian actions, the youth will like it. So we will soon expect the new party of "volunteers" who will want to follow the example of the hero, only on Donbass. Where is the edge of that hatred?
– There is an increase of the joyful, blossoming idiocy. But it is not ridiculous because it really generates hatred. There is certainly a limit, because it cannot be the same way for ever.
– On your page on Facebook there is a photo of a window with the peeled window leaf wide open. The window leaf is open, but the aperture is filled with an old pillow, and the fresh air access is blocked. Just as in Russia – it seems everything is opened, and there is nothing to breathe with …
– No, it is too front image. Russia is the big country therefore everything is similar to it, and it is similar to everything. I would refrain from any metaphor. This window leaf is quite concrete. Recently occasionally I went to meet my friend at the suburbs where my school childhood passed. I led him to look at my former house and I saw that the house was dead...
I took a picture of this window leaf: the same window bar that I remember since my childhood... It was such nostalgic blow for me. I touched it – and my tactile memory worked at once. Nothing has changed there since the middle of the 70th. I think that when I will approach this place next time, my house will not be there any more.
– A year ago your book "Most likely" was published, made of the columns written for different editions. It is, in fact, the chronicle of events but reported not by the journalist staying in an eternal time of trouble, but by the writer to whom, actually, is also intended to peer at life, comparing today with yesterday, watching society in its development or in its degradation. Is it easily to write today?
– It is never easily to write for me, frankly speaking. I do not know at all more or less serious authors to whom it would be easily to write. When it is too easily to write, maybe, it is not necessary to write at all. Process of the writing it is an overcoming of resistance to material. I write a lot now. Probably , because much occurs around, a lot of irritating, stimulating and inspiring external factors. I am not the autist therefore anyway it is necessary to react to the events. And I am able to do it only in one way – by means of letters and words.
– And do you sometimes return to the "firm" cards?
– Very seldom. After all this genre arose during a before-internet era and today would look as a retro, and I would not like it. Now there are many other technological capabilities. And here then, in the 70th, the library card was associated with intellectual life. All people of my generation, humanists and not only, got used to hold these cards in hands. Someone pursued science; someone learned languages are there was very convenient, universal carrier.
– One German publisher planned to publish the book in the form of collection of your cards. Was the project successful?
– Yes, it is a wooden box with four card-index texts, very beautiful and expensive. On one part of a card there is the Russian text, on another – German one. My publisher said with pride that this piece, despite its considerable price, was bought by even some universities for the purpose of training of students in Russian. So I incidentally appeared the author of such didactic edition.
– New Year’s coming. What would like to wish to Ukrainians?
– Not to lose optimism, that fuse and enthusiasm which were felt after the Maidan. In April I took part in the Russian-Ukrainian congress of the intellectuals, I was in Kiev, and I was pleased very much by the general optimistic spirit of Ukrainians. They proved that are able to protect their own dignity. It is very important experience. I wish to Ukraine not to lose it. I think they will manage to do it. It is important not only for Ukraine, but also for Russia.
– Ukraine in its way. Maybe Russia will move a little too once. But we still should overcome so much...
– It seems to someone that the economy and the humanitarian sphere are not connected to each other at any way. But it is a big mistake. Total lie will surely convert into poverty, including economic one. Of course, there will be hard times for Russia.