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Khrushcheva: Russia Should Look to its Real Greatness, not Imagined Greatness

Nina Khrushcheva has a new op/ed in the IHT taking on Putin’s Russia from a literary analysis:

In Gogol’s Russia, which is also, sadly, Vladmir Putin’s Russia, individual needs are neglected, the state’s needs are overstated, and everyone is condemned to a life of cheating and stealing, consoling themselves that, while there is no justice, they are at least part of a great country. … “We take from the West what we want,” goes this way of thinking, “but we won’t allow their values imposed on us.” In other words, “We’ll take Nokia cellphones, but gay parades in the center of Moscow we will crush.” When I hear this kind of talk I want to scream back: “Cellphones and street marches go hand in hand – they are both part of the freedom to think, to communicate and to act.” So, how does Putin’s Russia answer the question of what is to be done? It uses news broadcasts, entertainment programs, billboards and even childrens’ cartoons to remind everyone that Russia is great. Subway loudspeakers recite poems about the country’s greatness. Posters call for strengthening the military. Uniforms are in and patriotic youth organizations such as Nashi (Ours), successor to the Soviet-era Pioneers, are on the march. The economy is great, Gazprom is great, the military is great, Putin is great: The empire remains ours. … The classics of Russian literature should make us proud – their words have proven durable. But wouldn’t Russians rather see their nation step out of the dreamland of fiction and start living in modernity, not in some imagined greatness?