Friday, March 12, 2021

The Only Thing Tying Russians Together into a Community is Their Language, Vyrypayev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 10 – Ivan Vyrypayev, a prominent Russian dramatist who has often taken part in protests against violations of human rights, says that the only thing tying Russians together into a single community is their language because their culture is no longer a single whole strong enough to do so.

            He offers that observation in the course of an interview for Deutsche Welle’s Russian program conducted by Konstantin von Eggert, a remark that many Russians may find offensive but that helps to explain Vladimir Putin’s obsessive focus on the Russian language rather than on any broader basis for identity (

            “I think,” Vyrypayev continues, “that in Russia today, there is in general no wholeness. This is a country characterized by eclecticism … It is enormous and it is impossible that it will be a single whole. It seems to me that this contradicts the development of the planet and that it is impossible to hold such enormous imperial territories.”

            “People in Vladivostok live even in a different time zone,” he observes. “How can they be dependent on Moscow? Only the Russian language unites us. There is no culture! I do not think, for example, that one should seriously focus on Orthodox culture” because “today there is no common Orthodox culture” either.

            Figures like Pushkin and Dostoyevsky are people of the past, Vyrypayev says. “Today, Russia in any case lives according to Western economic structures. We have a Western political model: there is a parliament, a president, a constitution, a system of taxation, and bank cards.” None of those things set us apart or make us a nation.

            China has adopted capitalism as well, but the Chinese are united as a nation. That makes them different from Russians because the Chinese can come together and act as one whereas Russians even when orders are given from above do not act collectively as one would expect if they were truly a unified nation.


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