It is important to understand that Russian intellectuals, as well as the whole Russian humanitarian community, are fully responsible for the monstrous events of recent years. The principles on which the Putin regime was built were not hidden from the very beginning, and the ominous prospects for Russia under this regime have been clear since at least 2008 when Georgia was invaded. Meanwhile, the educated class of Russia time after time chose the strategy of collaborationism and built its well-being in morally unacceptable circumstances. It was incapable of either reflection or solidarity.
In 2022, when Russia finally and unconditionally passed the point of no return, the Russian intelligentsia seized on the saving concept “this is also a war against Russian culture”, “we are the same victims of this regime.” However, after the disgraceful year of 2014, the intellectuals of both Russian capitals continued to hold exhibitions funded by the state, hold festivals and research on state grants. Intellectuals of the Russian emigration still came to Russia with presentations of their books (as if Thomas Mann or Erich Maria Remarque visited Nazi Germany from time to time to chat with friends). During a debate with a Russian colleague from the Higher School of Economics about the impossibility of teaching in an institution whose leadership directly serves the economy of Putin’s Reich, and in return receives colossal preferences from the regime, I heard an extremely sincere answer: “As long as they pay us, we will show them a fig in the pocket”.
You guys have proved yourself. And the terrible crimes of Bucha, Mariupol, Izyum, the bombing of peaceful cities and villages in Ukraine, committed by your state with your conscious connivance, cannot be canceled or corrected now. I don’t know what you will do with this mental burden, and I don’t know if you have the strength to comprehend the entire centuries-old history of collaborationism in Russian culture in relation to new and new forms of dictatorship. But the sooner you tell yourself the truth, which lies in the absolute regularity of what happened and in no way coincides with the thesis about the “criminal Putin regime”, the sooner your country’s recovery will begin. Assuming that such a recovery is still possible.