Sunday, February 18, 2024

Russians Must Learn to Love Their Country on Their Own Terms and to Oppose Putin’s War Because They Do, Kostyuchenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 13 – Vladimir Putin is always ready to tell Russians how they should love their country, but Russians must decide for themselves how and what to love about Russia if they and not he are to define to future, according to now in exile Russian journalist Elean Kostyuchenko, the author of I Love Russia, argues.

            (Her book was published last year in Russian as tamizdat by the Meduza news agency and is available electronically from that source. It has now appeared in English and other languages, and she speaks about her ideas in an interview with RFI Russian (россия/20240213-елена-костюченко-наша-национальная-травма-бессилие).).

            Many Russians have come to believe one of two paradigms: If one loves Russia as Putin says, one must be for the war in Ukraine; and if one is against the war and against Putin, then that means you hate Russia and of course ultimately hate yourself, something that contributes both to a sense of impotence and passivity.

            But there is a third possibility and it is the one that must be grasped, Kostyuchenko says. One must oppose Putin and Putin’s war not because one hates Russia but because one loves it – and loves it enough to view it and its problems with wide-open eyes. That is a more powerful basis for opposition than hatred.

            Despite her own current travails and even differences with her mother about this, the exiled journalist says she remains confident that Russians will see the sun rise again. “Putin is not eternal. The war is not forever. We will return our country to itself. We will live long and happily, very long and very happily. I believe this with all my heart.”

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