Sunday, August 29, 2021

Russians ‘Long Not for the USSR but for a Normal Life Not Dominated by Machines and Money,’ Khotinenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 28 – Many think that Russians long for the Soviet system as a whole, Vladimir Khotinenko says; but in fact, they are longing for a normal life, one in which human beings rather than money and machines are in control, as all too many of them are convinced is the case now.

            They may have been poorer in Soviet times, the filmmaker says; but they at least lived in a world in which the leaders had an ideology that specified everything was being done for human beings rather than for money or machines. Now, they don’t; and they miss it (

            In Russia like in many other countries in recent decades, “the human” has disappeared, overwhelmed by money and by machines, Khotinenko continues. These seem to be in control; and so when Russians express a longing for Soviet times, they are in fact saying that they want a world in which human beings, not money and machines, are at the center of things.

            His Argumenty i Fakty interview notes that the magazine gets “many letters from readers saying we long for Soviet times; we feel outselves deceived. We are convinced in perestroika times that we had to kill the totalitarian monster and as a result …” and the director completes the sentence “we killed man.”

            “The monster it turned out consisted of living people,” Khotinenko says. And so when people appear to feel “nostalgia for the Soviet Union,” they are in fact “nostalgic” for a normal human life, not necessarily rich but focused on human beings rather than being driven by forces like money and machines beyond their ken.

            In short, although the film director does not express it this clearly, Russians today are nostalgic for a past that they remember as simpler and more regular – and it is those values, often found among older people in all nations, that is behind what they say rather than any admiration for the USSR as such, whatever some of its adepts may think.

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