Tuesday, July 9, 2019

For Putin and His Supporters, ‘Truth is the Enemy,’ Atai Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 8 – Golineh Atai, ARD correspondent in Moscow from 2013 to 2018, says that for Vladimir Putin and those who support him, “truth is the enemy;” and to underline that point, she uses that phrase as the title for her bestselling memoirs about her time in Russia (dw.com/ru/журналистка-года-в-германии-путин-не-отдаст-того-что-уже-забрал/a-49433613).

            In a Deutsche Welle interview, she argues that “thirty years ago a revolution of the spirit and a cardinal shift in the worldview and way of thinking in Russia did not occur. Everything as before is being translated from one generation to the next.” And that is having the most disastrous consequences for Russia, Russians and the world.

            “The older and middle-aged generation [in the Russian Federation] to a large degree thinks in the old way. They have or have turned back to the old attitude about facts: We don’t need them, don’t talk about this. Facts do not play a role our truth does not depend on them. And we are even proud that facts are not important: disinformation legitimates our political system.”

            The younger generation is different, Atai says; it is patriotic; it would like to live in Russia; but it has the sense that nothing there is going to change and that living in the West is a better choice.
            In other comments, the German journalist says that in her view, “the central conception of ‘the Russian world’ will continue to function in the immediate future. Putin will not give back what he has already taken: Crimea, part of Eastern Ukraine … In the Donbass, there is no peace … it is a front” where people continue to shoot at each other.

            Russia under Putin has become a repressive and revanchist state. Its repressive nature is causing ever more Russians to leave, although not to break ties with their homeland entirely. Its revanchist qualities are something that many in the West generally and in Germany in particular don’t want to face up to.

            Atai says it is critically important that no only Russia but Germany and the entire world recognize that “Ukraine is not Russia.” Tragically, many Germans still think about the world with a map that ceased to exist in 1991.  “Ukraine has already for a long time been a sovereign state which has separated from Moscow both legally and spiritually.”

            Germans have a particular responsibility to do this, the journalist says.  Their own history has forced them to come to terms with the dangers of revanchism in themselves; they need to be “especially critical” when the policies of others as now in Moscow are “revanchist,” rather than denying that fact altogether.

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