Putin hasn’t Destroyed Russia but Rather Russia has Destroyed Him, Konchalovsky Says

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 3, 2017)

Many people accuse Vladimir Putin of destroying Russia, film director Andrey Konchalovsky says; but instead “Russia has destroyed Putin” because like any Russian ruler, he finds it hard “rule a state whose population has no idea about democracy … and by according to inviolable tradition voluntarily delegates all power to one single individual.”

In a wide-ranging interview to Germany’s Spiegel magazine, the noted film director says that Putin began with a “pro-Western” orientation but has been forced by the nature of the Russian people to become like his predecessors (magazin.spiegel.de/SP/2017/30/152270478/; in Russian at philologist.livejournal.com/9493875.html).

What people need to understand, Konchalovsky says, is that Russians are “an archaic nation, the majority of its people live in the stone age even though they use i-phones. And as far as [its] system of values compared to Europe, [Russians] are in the 11th or 12th centuries when there was no bourgeoisie and no citizens. Marx wrong about this.”

Russians “never had property,” he points out, “and when an individual does not have anything that he must defend or can sell, he cannot understand what a market economy is. As a result, many Russians cannot understand Germans and Germans, Russians: there exist different systems of priorities” and in fact a clash of “two civilizations.”

And there is an additional problem: “Russian thought is Manichean: there is only light and darkness, black or white. And that is one of the reasons for the crisis-like development of our society. Dialogue between the left and the right in Russia will never lead to reconciliation or agreement.”

Asked about his recent film, “The White Nights of Postman Aleksey Tryapitsyn,” Konchalovsky says that he doesn’t view it as denigrating Russia in any way. Instead, the film “simply shows the life of people whom [he] loves and who however strange this may seem don’t suffer.”

Such people can’t be harmed by Western sanctions, he says. “They have lived their entire life under sanctions. They don’t run off in search of French camembert because it has suddenly disappeared from the shelves of stores.” Instead, their response will be to become more patriotic, and if a war begins, they will rally round the Kremlin.

“But when there is no war,” Konchalovsky continues, “then the national idea will disappear into thin air.”

Asked to explain his statement that in Russia, “everything is possible except reforms,” the director says that he “had in mind successful reforms. We still haven’t cracked the Russian cultural code … the German one is more understandable than [the Russian].” That is because the Russian is “a peasant” while the German “from birth” is either a rural resident or a bourgeois.”

Compared to the bourgeois, “the peasant has completely different qualities: he is always hostile to the state because it constantly wants to take something from him. The West isn’t in a position to understand this: The CIA in the 1990s thought that the situation would lead to revolts of the hungry.” That was “complete nonsense,” the director says.

“In Russia, there cannot be any revolts of the hungry because Russians are always prepared for hunger. Their patience is so great that they can survive injustice.” And that sets them apart from the West. This is “a conflict of two civilizations” and between “such different worlds, there will always be hostility.” The current round, he says, is the West’s fault.

“The Western man will always be afraid of the Russian,” Konchalovsky says, “even if there is nothing in him to fear. But then he will drink vodka with him and everything will be fine.”

[Article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/08/putin-hasnt-destroyed-russia-but-rather.html]