Lost North Caucasus?

Today I came across an interesting article by Amy Knight on Russia and North Caucasus. And since I have been working with refugees from that part of the world I resolved to write a short comment on this topic:

I have been working with refugees from Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia since July 2006 and met among them many people, who have never supported terrorist attacks. They just look for peace and possibility of normal life.

The problem of North Caucasus poses not only high rate of unemployment, so called “zachistki”(sweep operations), murders, but also illegal apprehensions, rapes, tortures, extremely interrogations. This is everydal life in North Caucasus. Ramzan Kadyrov obtained from Vladimir Putin cart balnche and can do all what he wishes. If he or his people will like a girl, the just take her, if they want to shoot to women who do not wear headscarves, they just do it.

Pushing Chechens, Dagestani or Ingush people towards terrorism – in my opinion – has two reasons: strategic interests of Russian government in North Caucasus and lack of interest of the Western World in this part of the world.

Let’s recall the first and the beginning of the second of the so called Chechen – Russian wars. Chechens fought for independent country, they even had a democratic, secular constitution. In the second war Aslan Maschadov was a moderate, relatively liberal president, who also fought for independence, not for muslim state. But the second world is much more pereceived as a war for Emirate of North Caucasus. Fundamentalist muslims started appearing in Chechnya, common people got to radicalize. It is no wonder. Each long, cruel war must demoralize and change people to the worse. Chechens got disappointed with Western World, they counted that this mytical Western World would support them, not in military way (even though some might have thought that even in a military way), but mainly with political measures. But id did not happen so. They felt abandoned by democratic world, international community and turned to the muslim fundamentalists. And fundamentalists understood that situation very well, they just waited for such course of the events.

I have no idea what may be the way to untie that real Gordian Knot. Addressing of unemployment, poverty may be not enough. As long as there are fighters in mountains and woods, “zachistki”, murders, tortures, illegal apprehensions will continue. It is not enough to give these people employment and money, there are young men who support muslim fighrers because of religious reasons and , whom you just cannot buy. And we should remember thar so many evil happned in North Caucasus and continues to happen that “blood revenge” so strongly rooted in Chechen society may never have an end. I hope I am mistaken.

My ideas about Russian literature

Today I came across an interesting article – “Why western authors are in love with Mother Russia” by Andrew Miller, and resolved to write a comment below it, including my private and modest ideas concerning Russian literature:

A few years ago I read about one of my favourite Russian writers, that “he was closest to the truth about human being”. This sentence concerned Fiodor Dostoyevsky. And it is impossible to disagree with this statement, when one reads “Idiot” or “Crime and punishment”. In every of these books one is able to find himself/herself, to identify with some characteres. When I read Dostoyevsky or Turgeneiv I read it with all my nerves, it is not just work of the mind, but work of my whole being (my soul, my mind and body).

That is why I agree with following Author’s statement:

“Writers born elsewhere tend to be captivated first by the grandeur and reckless honesty of the great Russian authors (…)”

Russian writers do possess not only “reckless honesty”, but also – sometimes even heroic – courage to tell truth about human being’s nature. It is a kind of civil courage, which so often Western writers lack, with exception of Joseph Conrad, C.S. Lewis, or Jack London. They do not hide truth behind the curtian of courtesy, social conventions or political corectness. They show it with all its pain, suffering, ugliness, so that we get fed up with our reality, and do not see another possibility, apart from changing our inner, spiritual world.

With regard to another Author’s statement:

“Nick, my narrator, is sucked into Moscow during its greedy, oil-fuelled boom. He only finds out what sort of man he can be, perhaps has always been, when he lives in Russia.”

I think that in Russia we may feel in some sense “naked”, it is still a state, where one can feel as “pure”, “naked”, “raw”, “defenseless”, as it is only possible, where state, law, authority, social conventions do not prevent him/her from all evil human instincts existing in all human beings. In Russia there is a bare human being standing opposite omnipotent authority, simple people opposite corrupt officials or oligarchs. In such milieu all human stances, all human behaviours are sharper, more visible, distinguishable. If you are courageous, you are much more courageous than in Western countries. What is the price of courage in Great Britian, or Germany and what is the price of courage in Russia? You can answer this question, when you take into consideration, fate of such persons as Anna Politkovskaya, Natasha Estemirova, Nastia Baburova, Litvinenko, Chodorkovsky.

In Russia you have much better and more occasions to be decent or wicked, and when you decide to be decent you have much more to lose, than when you decide to be decent in France.

In other words, I think that in Russia, a person have much more possibilities to be more human, to be more real and true, than in other parts of Europe. And no wonder, that in such reality, great literature appears…