The Russian-Ukrainian war and media literacy. Thoughts and memories of an East-European
Anton Carpinschi, Professor Emeritus “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași (Romania) email@example.com
Filtered through the memories of my childhood under the Soviet occupation and the experiences lived in the communist regime in Romania, the emotions caused by the Russian-Ukrainian war stimulated some thoughts about Soviet-Russian propaganda and the acute need for media literacy. Born out of a deep need for spiritual therapy in a well-documented and open media horizon, this essay focuses on cultivating the mind and saving the soul in the terrible times we live. Starting from the fact that a society is functional as long as it solves the major crises it faces, in an optimistic-constructive manner, it pleaded for reformative political solutions in a spiritual-religious climate freed from the dominance of the autocratic-oligarchic-ecclesiastical state ( the troika of the post-Soviet power).
Keywords: the three-faced bronze horseman; troika of the post-Soviet Power; Ukrainian resistance; cultivating the mind and saving the soul; reformative political solutions.
Flashback. How I began my media literacy under the Soviet occupation
Tulcea, September 1, 1954. I start primary school. On my way to school, I pass by the beautiful house on the corner of my street every day. I learned from my parents that the Soviet officer lived there with his family and that whenever I pass by this house, I have to be good, not make noise or other jesting as I often did with my friends. At that time, I did not understand what the Soviet officer and his family were looking for in our city and, above all, why they had to stay in the beautiful house on the corner of my street. But not a year passed, and I found out the answer. After together with my colleagues, we learned to sing the national anthem of the Soviet Union and the song “Glory to the victorious Red Army !” after seeing the movie “The Story of a Real Man” and being impressed by the heroism of Aleksei Meresiev, the pilot who manages to fly and fight again against the invading Nazis with prostheses on both legs, after admiring the courage of the girls and boys a few years older than us in the novel “The Young Guard”, it seemed natural to me that in the beautiful house in the corner of my street to live the Soviet officer together with his family.
But in the first days of summer vacation in 1958, right after finishing primary school, I suddenly noticed that the Soviet officer and his family no longer lived in the beautiful house on my street. I then learned from the news bulletins on the radio that, following the agreement between the party and state leaderships of the Soviet Union and the Romanian People’s Republic, the Soviet army was withdrawn from the territory of our country. So, gradually and cautiously, my parents began discussing political issues with me. From my father, a young doctor sent to the front in 1943 to an aviation squadron, I learned for the first time about the horrors of the war he experienced directly, both on the eastern and western fronts. Growing up, my father told me about the professionalism and courage of Romanian pilots, about those killed in the prime of their youth, about those burned and mutilated, about the behavior of Romanian commanders, but also about that of Soviet soldiers and officers. And so, the image of the heroism of the Soviet army slowly began to fade.
Now, after the passage of so many decades, against the background of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the experiences of my childhood years under Soviet occupation and the stories of the participants and eyewitnesses of the Second World War came back to my mind. Thus, my opinion was reinforced that without living the experience of war or, at least, without capitalizing on direct and credible sources, our words about war and its calamities remain just repeated words from books and television. I start from the idea that in addition to documentation from books, the Internet, or TV, a deep and authentic approach to the Russian-Ukrainian war needs direct experience or at least primary sources from direct experiences. A reasonable solution might be to appeal to the biographical narratives of war participants, survivors, and eyewitnesses, thus combining the documentation from books, the Internet, and television with an appeal to direct, verifiable, and credible sources. Beyond the natural dose of subjectivity, war testimonies have the inestimable value of personally lived truth. But let me be more explicit!
The TV programs of the Russian Federation remind me of the Soviet propaganda from Radio Moscow in Romanian
I am part of the first generations born in Romania after the Second World War. The war was for us, in our childhood years, something that had barely passed but whose consequences we were feeling every day. Traumatized, most families carried the vivid and painful memories of those killed on the front or who disappeared in captivity to the Russians. The discussions always came back to the events and happenings of the war or related to the war. In this atmosphere laden with suffering, I felt the pain of losing some family members in the battles at the front. Still, I also had the opportunity to learn from my parents and other family members, participants, and eyewitnesses, informations and significant aspects of the dramatic experiences in times of war on the front and the country.
What struck me from the beginning was the power of memories and the impact of the war’s biographical narratives on me, a child and teenager. First, of course, I was greatly impressed by my father’s war diary, the accounts of medical interventions in precarious conditions, the courage and self-control of our airmen, and the massive loss of life. Second, I learned about the terrible bombing of American aviation on April 4, 1944, from the vivid stories of my mother, a student at that time in Bucharest. To go to college in the morning and come running back through the burning ruins, among the corpses and wounded lying on the cobblestones, and instead of your house to find a huge pit full of smoking debris … To stay on the roads not knowing where you go … To live with terror in your soul, waiting for the Soviet army of occupation to enter the country and Bucharest. These memories and so many others directly from the source were imprinted in my mind for life, so now, when I talk or write about the war, it always comes to mind. I cannot refer to the terrible news and terrifying images of the invasion of the Russian Federation army in Ukraine without remembering sequences from the Second World War and the Soviet occupation of Romania as they were transmitted to me by my parents and relatives, participants, and witnesses to the horrors from those terrible times.
Another possibility of authentic information and understanding of the events appears, for example, in the discussions with the Romanian soldiers who participated in the operations under the auspices of the UN and NATO on the fronts of the last 30 years: Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bosnia, Angola, Mali, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Proximity to the war in Ukraine also favored the opportunity to speak with refugees and special correspondents of radio and television stations. This is also an opportunity that I used. Talking to a young family of Ukrainian refugee teachers staying in the apartment of some close relatives, I felt the pain of people who now face deprivation and uncertainty, but they are determined to continue the struggle for a free life in a democratic Ukraine. Talking to this young family, I noticed the gap between the vivid account of the experiences lived under the fire of Russian guns and bombings and the delirium of the speeches of the professional propagandists always present in the television studios of the Russian Federation. How beguiling is the distance between the wooden language of propaganda and the harsh realities we always face ? And so, memories from my childhood came back to my mind when I used to listen to Radio Moscow in Romanian, the endless speeches about the great successes of the working people of the Soviet Union under the wise leadership of the Communist Party. At the same time, Romanian society was crushed under the burden of war reparations directed towards the Soviet Union.
Returning to the war between Russia and Ukraine – two political systems with their own ethno-cultural identity, but with a long common history full of political-military tensions – we note that it took the form of a regional war with global impact particularly dangerous for international security. In these circumstances we also observe that, often, the deceptive distance between the wooden language of propaganda and the surrounding blunt realities does not diminish the attractiveness and force of the impact of propaganda on different categories of the population. On the contrary, through old propaganda tricks such as — denial with serenity of facts and of the obvious evidence, transformation of Ukrainians from victims of the invasion into war crime perpetrators, creation of a false image of the enemy by declaring the leadership of the Ukrainian state as neo-Nazi — the propaganda apparatus of the Russian Federation reverses the roles. From the position of the invading state of Ukraine, the Russian Federation is quick to victimize itself by presenting itself as a state whose sovereignty is endangered by the neo-Nazi leadership of the Ukrainian state and its Western allies. As a watcher of Soviet-Russian propaganda broadcasts for the past 60 years, I have heard this discourse generated by the dictators’ fear of reality and independent thought. Beyond today’s technological-media progress, what is striking about the propaganda shows of the stars on Russia Today TV, for example, is the great similarity to the shows we used to listen to on Radio Moscow during the Soviet era. How could we explain this similarity ? Or, extending the arc of time, could we find the source of these similarities in more distant times ? So let’s start at the beginning !
The scary shadow of the three-faced bronze horseman looms over the world: a little allegorical history of Russian-Soviet expansionism
“A wave-swept shore, remote, forlorn: / Here stood he, rapt in thought and drawn / To distant prospects (…). / And he thought: / From here the Swede is ill-protected: / A city on this site, to thwart / His purposes, shall be erected / For here we may, by Nature blessed / Cut through a window to the West / And guard our seabord with conviction. /At home in waters which had been / Unknown, all flags shall here be seen. / And we shall feast without restriction.” (A. S. Pushkin, “The Bronze Horseman: A St. Petersburgh Story”, www.tyutchev.org.uk).
This is how “The Bronze Horseman” begins, the famous narrative poem by Aleksander Pushkin, whose lyrics I heard spoken for the first time by our Russian language and literature teacher. What got me thinking from the first moment of reading were the lyrics: “For here we may, by Nature blessed / Cut through a window to the West / And guard our seabord with conviction. /At home in waters which had been / Unknown, all flags shall here be seen. / And we shall feast without restriction”. This premonitory message transposed by the poet into the thoughts of Tsar Peter the Great expressed, in fact, the obsessive concern of the Russian state for the West and announced, at the same time, the future expansionist history of Russia. Then, through successive readings, I discerned in this allegorical poem and other layers rich in thoughts and meanings. Together, they helped me understand, then, in my high school years, the metaphor in the title of Pushkin’s impressive poem. Many years later, in St. Petersburg, admiring the bronze statue of Peter the Great on horseback, looking out over the Neva from the top of a huge cliff, I once again perceived the message of Russia’s imperial rise and expansionist ambitions. But, the scary shadow of the bronze horseman extends over the people of the whole of Russia because Peter the great founder is the same as Peter the great tyrant who crushes under the horse’s hooves the poor and unfortunate servant Yevgeny who gets in his way.
“But, as for my poor, hapless brother …/ His frail mind could withstand no more (…) / Yevgeny ran, and was aware / Of cumbrous hooves behind him pounding /The roadway, crashing and resounding / Like thunder in the still night air / For after him, with arm extended / The Bronze Colossus on its steed / Charged at the gallop and offended / The moonlit calm with its stampede. / And then, no matter where he wended / His way, he found that all night through / Poor haples wretch – he was attended / By bronze hooves beating their tattoo” (Ibidem.).
For me, the image of the bronze horseman with a menacing gaze towards the West and an equally menacing gaze towards his own people is the emblematic image of the violent and painful birth of the Russian Empire on the edge of Europe. Gradually, the fearsome shadow of the bronze horseman stretching over the world took the form of a myth projected in my mind against the background of the wars against the Tartars, the Teutonic Knights, the Swedes, the Turks, as well as the anti-Napoleonic wars, the Crimean War, the First World War. But, following the bourgeois revolution of February 1917 and the Bolshevik insurrection of October 25, 1917, the bronze horseman with the face of Tsarist Power disappears, and the bronze horseman with the face of Soviet Power makes its triumphant entrance to the Kremlin gate. During the 20th century, the expansionist Soviet Power placed “buffer zones” and enclaves of “frozen conflicts” around the borders of the Soviet Union, thus completing, on a world scale, the earlier feats of the bronze horseman with the face of Tsarist Power. And today, in the roar of the armed invasion of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, trampling the bodies of men, women, and children, shouting with his thundering voice, “To Europe is our will !”, the bronze horseman showed a new face: the post-Soviet expansionist Power.
Thus, the image of the violent succession of the three faces of the bronze horseman outlined in my mind a little allegorical history of Russian-Soviet expansionism. In the horizon of this allegory, we can observe how, through the skillful succession of its faces — tsarist Power in Russia, communist Power in the USSR, autocratic-oligarchic-ecclesiastical power in the Russian Federation — the bronze horseman, the symbol of the Founding Power, ensured the continuity of his dominance over a huge territory rich in physical and human resources. First, the Russia of the all-powerful tsars, of the Orthodox Church, the rapacious nobility and the oppressed people, a socially stratified Russia in the shape of a pointed pyramid, then the Soviet Union where the supreme dictator, the bureaucratic and atheistic nomenclature of the Communist Party took over the leadership of mass society through dictatorship and propaganda. The political, economic, and moral bankruptcy of the Soviet Power led to the relative liberation of the foreground of the political scene for a short time. But political actors are endowed with a terrible instinct for reproduction, so a new face of power emerged: the autocratic leader flanked by the new economic-financial oligarchy and the resuscitated Russian Orthodox Church. This is the troika of the post-Soviet expansionist Power.
From the perspective of the symbolic image of the three-faced bronze horseman, I will next evoke some experiences lived throughout my life in the propagandistic captivity of the Soviet Power and then in the vicinity of its successor, the post-Soviet expansionist Power. And so, against the background of the Russian-Ukrainian war, I remember some scenes from the ritual of communist education of children during the Soviet occupation, but also the emotional experiences occasioned by the liberation from the traps of communist propaganda in the mid-1960s.
“USSR, bastion of peace !” About the seemingly friendly face of the Soviet Power perceived by a child
The “USSR, bastion of peace “, I cheerfully chanted with my colleagues at the festivities of the great communist holidays. But, beyond the festive moments lived with the innocence of childhood, the days of November 7 (the anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution), May 1 (the day of labor and the proletariat around the world), May 8 (the anniversary of the founding of the Romanian Communist Party), May 9 (the day of the victory of the Union of the Soviet Union and the Allies over Nazi Germany), August 23 (the national day of the Socialist Republic of Romania) were for us free days and some occasions for fun against the background of patriotic and popular music that resounded powerfully in the loudspeakers in the public square or the stadium.
Life, however, is not all fun and celebration. Hence, as future citizens of the young “people’s democracy,” we began the process of communist education from a young age through school programs and reading lists. But, as in any totalitarian political regime, ideological education is not limited to school hours. With the entry into the pioneer organization, around 8-9 years old, our training and education began according to the canons of communist propaganda. Impressed by the spectacular ritual of the pioneering ceremonial, alternating with the sharp sound of the trumpets and the jerky rhythm of the drums, we were singing hymns dedicated to the homeland, the party, its leaders and, of course, the eternal friendship between the Romanian people and the Soviet people. A few verses from the anthem of the Romanian People’s Republic regarding the friendship of the Romanian people with the liberating Soviet people come to my mind even today: “Our people will be eternally fraternal / With the liberating Soviet people, / Leninism is our beacon and strength and momentum / We faithfully follow the undefeated Party, / We build socialism on the land of the country”.
Then, we were reading articles from the newspapers Scânteia pionierului (The Spark of the pioneer) and Scânteia tineretului (The Spark of the youth ) about the heroic work of the working class in factories to exceed the production plan, about the diligence of the peasants in the agricultural production cooperatives in their hard work on the fields of the homeland. I also remember that in the fall of 1957, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of what was then called “the Great October Socialist Revolution”, a competition was organized between our city’s schools. On this occasion, some colleagues from our class were called to the Pioneer House for special training. In a large room filled with books, newspapers and magazines, we met the students from the other schools who had also come for the same event. A teacher spoke to us about the unfolding of the revolution, about the cannon salvo fired from the cruiser Aurora on the evening of October 25, 1917, the signal to begin the assault on the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, where the provisional government was located; about his capitulation and the shameful flight of the head of the government, Kerensky; about Lenin’s role and the Peace Decree which called on the belligerent powers of the First World War to conclude peace immediately; about the Land Decree announcing the takeover of the big owners and the collectivization of agricultural lands. In the end, the teacher spoke to us about the significance of “the Great October Socialist Revolution” for the whole world, for our country and for us, the pioneers who represent the future of our homeland. Then we were assigned books, brochures and newspaper articles for reading and learning. I remember that a brochure fell into my hand, titled just like that, USSR, bastion of peace and security of peoples.
In the following years, entering with my colleagues in the Workers’ Youth Organization, our ideological education took on the systematized and controlled form of the weekly ideological circles. Within them, an important place was occupied by topics such as the unmasking of the exploitation of the working class in capitalist countries and the struggle of the Soviet Union and the socialist countries to condemn American imperialism and defend peace throughout the world. I remember the terrible propaganda condemning the aggressive policy of the United States on the occasion of the downing of the American pilot Francis Powers during a reconnaissance flight over the Soviet Union. To watch the sequences filmed on the occasion of the trial of the American pilot at a court in Moscow, we were taken to the cinema with the school and then, urged by the head of our youth organization//, we condemned the aggressive policy of the USA against the Soviet Union and the socialist countries. I also remember the film’s retrospective presentation with the Romanian delegation’s participation led by the writer Mihail Sadoveanu and the scholar Constantin I. Parhon at the World Peace Congress in Moscow in 1949. In a grand setting, with thousands of participants from all over the world, the Soviet Union received on this occasion “the crown of the world champion of the struggle for peace”. And also, in the circle of ideological education, I read for the first time from the famous textbook, History of the Communist (Bolshevik) Party of the Soviet Union. The Short Course. Declared an “encyclopedia of the basic knowledge of Marxism-Leninism”, this manual became the pillar of communist ideology, its study mandatory for party and youth worker organization members.
But, the awakening from the nets of communist ideology and the lifting of the veil of propagandistically beautified surreality happened quickly. Three shocks in the mid-1960s ripped the friendly mask of Soviet Power from my mind. First, the so-called “Valev plan” after the author’s name, the Soviet professor of economic geography, Emil Borisovich Valev. Starting from the idea of specialization of the economies of the Danube regions of Bulgaria, Romania and the USSR, it was proposed to build an “interstate economic complex” in the area of the Lower Danube, Romania being assigned the role of the predominantly agricultural state (Valev, 1964). How Tulcea, my hometown at the gates of the Danube Delta, was entering the area of interest of this Soviet plan of masked seizure of a part of Romania’s territory, it is obvious that such a territorial abduction has aroused in the family, at school, in society, vivid emotions, great concern and heated discussions. Immediately, the second shock followed. Gathered in the “Great Hall”, the beautiful festival hall of our high school, we listened to someone from the District Party Committee who presented us with a document of great importance. The April Statement of the Central Committee of the Romanian Workers’ Party was perceived by us, then, as a true declaration of independence from the Soviet Union (Statement of the Central Committee of the Romanian Workers’ Party, 1964).
Finally, the third shock, the strongest and most direct for me: the political amnesty in the summer of 1964. In those days, after long years of detention, humiliation and suffering, those who had opposed the establishment of the communist regime in Romania were released from prison. With a large group of newly released ex-convicts, we traveled on the ship’s deck that had just left Tulcea and was going upriver to Galați. I plucked up the courage and started talking to some of them. They were peasants from Moldova who had opposed the forced collectivization of agriculture on the model of the Soviet collective farms. After difficult years of detention, they had been released from the forced labor and extermination camp at Periprava, in the Danube Delta, where they had worked in harsh conditions cutting reeds. They were now returning to their families, in failing health, aged and disoriented, not knowing who and what they would find there.
The three shocks of waking up from the spell of communist myths at a young age, family conversations on the big themes of history, culture, politics, and the literary and philosophical readings accumulated during those years contributed to my preparation for university studies in philosophy. Looking now through the charmed spyglass of the retrospective, I could say that it was then, as a teenager, that I began to discover in the face of Soviet Power the harsh and menacing features of the expanding bronze horseman towards Europe. And also then, under the specter of the Soviet threat, the long and permanent process of media literacy began for me.
The Kremlin, Gazprom and the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate: The power troika and the post-Soviet expansionism
Featured in poems, songs and paintings, the troika – the sleigh drawn by three horses across the endless expanses of the snowy steppe – became a symbol of the Russian soul’s longing for undefined freedom over time. Wanting, as it were, to express the terrible rupture in the human soul between the longing for freedom and the temptation to dominate, there is also a dark meaning of the word “troika” in Russian. Recorded in Soviet history, the term of sad memory “NKVD troika” (Narodnîi Komisariat Vnutrenih Del / People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) refers to those three-person commissions tasked with the extrajudicial punishment of those considered by the Soviet Power to be enemies. “The troikas were introduced as a parallel body to the official legal system for swift punishment of anti-Soviet elements. They began as an institution of the CEKA (Vserossiyskaya Chrezvychaynaya Komissiya po Borskoy Kontrrevolyutsii i Sabotazhu / All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage) but later became very important in the NKVD, where they played a major role during the period of the Great Purge in the Soviet Union” (Wikipedia). But in post-Soviet Russia, a new troika of power has emerged in the succession of the Soviet-era KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoj Bezopasnosti / State Security Committee). The Kremlin, Gazprom and, unfortunately, the Orthodox Patriarchate are the three institutional structures that articulate politically, economically and religiously the troika of absolute power, leading the Russian Federation on the risky road of a political-military adventure with an unpredictable end.
The troika of absolute power is the image of the autocratic regime in post-Soviet Russia. A political regime allergic to democracy and modernizing reforms in a Russia that — after the collapse of communist totalitarian power, after a chaotic transition to wild capitalism through the plundering of the state’s assets and natural resources during the presidency of Boris Yeltsin — quickly went on the road of restoration absolute state power. This is how, in its Euro-Asian authoritarian tradition, the Russian Federation has embarked on a violent, repressive and resentful path, “Putin’s way” (Cornea, 2022). But, of course, the reformist, democratic and pro-Western “Gorbachev way” was proving unsafe and financially losing for the old, repressive and anti-Western security service leaders, for the outdated and corrupt military leadership, for the newly enriched oligarchs under the protection and complicity of the political system, but also for a good part of the revitalized ecclesiastical hierarchy concerned with the power of dominating the souls of believers in Russia and beyond.
But let’s take a closer look at what “Putin’s way” means. Beginning of September, the year 2022. A Moscow court revokes the printing license of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, the banner of the fight against corruption and for freedom in Russia. The editor-in-chief, Dmitri Muratov, tells reporters that the newspaper was killed by a political decision, just as several journalists were killed in recent years, such as Igor Domnikov, Iurii Shchekocikin, Anna Politkovskaia, Anastasia Baburova, Natalia Estemirova, Orkhan Dzhemal, as reprisals for critical and exposing reports on war crimes in Chechnya and the North Caucasus or corruption in state institutions and the army. “Today [they] killed our colleagues again, who had already been killed by this state for fulfilling their professional duties” … “[But] [the newspaper] was, is and will be,” concluded the 2021 laureate of the Nobel Prize for saving freedom of expression (Radio Free Europe. Radio Liberty, September 5, 2022). A few days later, the Supreme Court of Russia also ordered the revocation of the license of the Novaia Gazeta website because it referred to organizations declared as “foreign agents” without explicitly mentioning this status. In Russia, dozens of organizations and individuals have been declared “foreign agents”, and their status must be systematically mentioned in any publication under the threat of sanctions. Externally, following failures on the fronts in Ukraine, “Putin’s way” turned out to be a losing military venture. In these circumstances, Putin announced on September 21, 2022, the “partial” mobilization, and after the partial destruction of the Crimean bridge over the Kerch Strait, the so-called “Putin’s bridge”, the Russian leader triggered a total war of destruction of civil infrastructure and Ukrainian population.
Closely related to the political-military plans of the Kremlin, Gazprom, the huge energy company controlled by the Russian state, completes the picture of the war against Ukraine and the West with the strategy of transforming natural gas into a political weapon. But in such a hybrid war, it happens that “oligarchs connected to Gazprom die on their heads” (Pora, 2022). And this is because the oligarchs, the important people from the old institutions of force (siloviki) entered by the rapid devastation of the natural and financial resources of the state into the new economic-financial elite, share vital interests and deadly secrets with the center of political power in the Kremlin. For its part, shepherding the largest number of believers in the Orthodox world, the Moscow Patriarchate expresses, in accordance with the imperialist policy of the Russian Federation, its claim to be the center of spiritual power over world Orthodoxy. If, during the totalitarian Soviet Power, the aim was to build a society modeled on “homo sovieticus”, the new man, atheist, without roots in Christian spirituality, but receptive to Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist ideological indoctrination, post-Soviet absolute power reactivated the Orthodox Church, conscious being of its ideological and propaganda importance. So, symbolically speaking, the Kremlin, Gazprom and the Orthodox Patriarchate are configuring the new face of absolute power in post-Soviet Russia. And so, looking again through the enchanted spyglass of comprehensive hindsight, we can see how the bronze horseman has taken on a third face: expansionist autocratic-oligarchic-ecclesiastical power.
Let’s ask ourselves now, why did the liberal, modernizing reforms fail in this huge, rich, beautiful country with an impressive culture nourished by the unmistakable Russian soul ?! Why the reform and modernization programs envisaged in different historical-political circumstances by Stolypin, Kerensky, Gorbachev, or Yavlinsky could not be carried out? I think that the most informed and authorized answer could come from Grigory Yavlinsky, economist and politician, leader of the social-liberal Yabloko Party, three-time candidate for the presidency of the Russian Federation, the author of the 500-days Program, a plan for the transition of the Soviet regime to a free market economy. “The cause of the problems and tragedies that Russia is going through is the abandonment of the European development model,” professor Grigory Yavlinsky was declaring on Radio Svoboda on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the victory of the followers of democratic reforms over the coup of anti-reformists in Moscow in August 1991 (Yavlinsky, 2016). The Euro-Asian course of the policy of the Russian Federation, the failure of post-Soviet modernization, the war in Ukraine and subsequent developments are the main cause of many problems and tragedies in Russian society. Grigory Yavlinsky thinks that the current system in Russia is weaker than the Soviet one and will be able to maintain itself for a certain period. Still, only until it exhausts the reserves through which it lives now, and only as long as no viable political alternative emerges. Betting on the absence of a viable political alternative, the absolute power in the Kremlin launched a so-called “special military operation”, as we know, the invasion of the territory of the sovereign and independent state, Ukraine. However, the plans of Russian political leaders and military strategists faced something they had underestimated: the resistance of the Ukrainian people.
Ukrainian resistance or how the post-Soviet power troika broke down
Autocracy, oligarchy and ecclesiastical power shook hands in post-Soviet Russia. So, the Russian troika of absolute power entered, under the pretext of defending the holy land of mother Russia, on the great and rich expanses of Ukraine. “Go bravely to fulfill your military duty and do not forget that if you die for your country, you will be with God in His kingdom, in glory and in eternal life” (Patriarch Kirill, 2022). This is how Patriarch Kiril addressed the young people, and less so the young people hunted with the arcane through the cities and villages of Russia, to be sent, poorly trained and ill-equipped, as cannon fodder in the unjust and criminal war against independence of Ukraine. That’s why I used the metaphor of the troika, which symbolizes, in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the autocratic-oligarchic-ecclesiastical power of invading Ukraine.
And because I am referring to the lessons of the war and the moral strength of the Ukrainian people, I appeal to the opinion of an informed commentator expressed on the Deutsche Welle website on the occasion of the fulfillment of a hundred days of war. “A hundred days. It’s a lot; it’s a little ? Who wins and who loses ? The well-known commentator Roman Goncearenko. was asking himself (…). A hundred days is a long time if we remember that at the beginning of the war, many commentators, especially in the West, did not see the government in Kyiv withstanding the Russian attack for more than two or three days. This was probably one of the reasons why some countries, including Germany, hesitated to supply weapons. A mistake. Others, most notably the US and Britain, have delivered weapons incessantly, thus helping to prevent an early defeat of Ukraine. Therefore, the first lesson from the beginning of the war is that rapid arms deliveries save lives” (Goncearenko, 2022). And so, thanks to the heroism of the Ukrainian people and Western financial and military aid, we can now talk about the Ukrainian armed resistance and the failure of what I have called the troika of the occupying autocratic-oligarchic-ecclesiastical power.
But, to succeed in such a political-military performance, one needs the strength of character and a clear mind able to counter the myths spread by Russian propaganda. Since the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and now during the military aggression against Ukraine, Kremlin propaganda has continued to conduct a sustained and coordinated disinformation campaign to influence public opinion from Russia and abroad. Just listing a few myths and misconceptions commented on by Chatham House specialists seems conclusive to me: “Russia was promised that NATO would not expand”; “We need to improve the relationship with Russia, even without concessions from the Russian side, because it is too important”; “Russia has the right to a defensive perimeter – a sphere of < privileged interests >, including the territory of other states”; “The peoples of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia are one nation”; “Crimea has always been Russian” (Chatham House Report, May 13, 2021). President Vladimir Putin himself makes a compendium of these misleading myths in the authentic Soviet propaganda style. “I am certain that the true sovereignty of Ukraine, he was writing, is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human, and civilizational relations have been formed for centuries, come from the same sources, and hardened in the same trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship is passed down from generation to generation. It is in the hearts, in the memory of people living in Russia and Ukraine today, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together, we will always be much stronger and happier. Because we just form the same people” (Putin, 2021). What strikes me every time I read and listen to the speeches in the authoritative tone of President Putin, Patriarch Kiril, or other high representatives of the Russian autocratic-oligarchic-ecclesiastical power is their claim to impose their opinions, in other words, their personal truths, as the unique and the universal truth, the absolute truth that we, all others, must listen to and follow. Probably, when they think, write and speak in a peremptory way about their truths, these all-powerful masters of the world, considering themselves the only holders of truth, do not have in mind the usual Russian word, právda, with its sense of the particular, relative, everyday truth but, on the contrary, the word ístina, meaning the absolute, universal, undeniable truth (Právda and ístina, Teacher’s Newspaper, no. 4 of February 2, 2010 / Uchitel’skaya Gazeta).
But reading and re-reading the article about the ethnic and historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians reminded me of a lesson in history and professional honesty I learned a long time ago. During my high school years, I was particularly impressed by a distinguished teacher who came from far away. Born and educated in Chernivtsi (Bucovina) during the Austro-Hungarian imperial administration, having a rich multicultural experience acquired before and after the First World War in the lands scorched today by the Russian-Ukrainian war, Professor Viktor Dumanski told us in the early 1960s about the fact that the Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians are three peoples distinguished by their own ethnolinguistic and cultural identity. I then retained the idea that Ukrainians and Belarusians were embedded in complicated historical-political circumstances in Tsarist Russia and then in its successor, the Soviet Union. I also learned from our teacher that a strong patriotic and anti-Soviet feeling reigned in the Ukrainian population. In a private setting, I learned from Professor Viktor Dumanski about the strong anti-Soviet feeling that reigned in the Ukrainian population, especially following the mass starvation policy of 1932-1933 (Holodomor). Applying this criminal policy to the entire population of Ukraine explains, to a large extent, the reception of the German army, falsely perceived in June-July 1941 as liberators from the repressive Soviet yoke. Although this information seemed subversive at the beginning of the 1960s in a Romania, governed by the communist party installed in power under the Soviet occupation, our teacher spoke to us, as an eyewitness and honest historian, about the truths and experiences lived by Romanians, Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, Russians in the disputed territories in the decades before and after World War II.
I remembered these history lessons learned six decades ago when I read Vladimir Putin’s propaganda article about the close historical unity between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples. I realized, once again on this occasion, the trap into which a propagandist falls when he supports the illegitimate interests of imperialist, revisionist power, unable to recognize the right of peoples to self-determination and, implicitly, their state sovereignty enshrined in international treaties. For example, when they deny the current status of Ukraine and support its return to the status of a part of the Russian Federation or, at least, to that of a satellite state of the Russian Federation, we observe how the various propagandists — Putin, Medvedev, Solovyov or someone else from the political-ideological apparatus mixes and truncates, at the same time, historical facts and truths, twisting the meanings of the terms and sentences of international treaties. Unable to recognize, e.g., the spirit of resistance and fighting capacity of the Ukrainian people, they prefer to call the legitimate leadership from Kyiv, a nest of neo-Nazis in the service of the North Atlantic Treaty. And the more they strive, the more they move away from understanding the national aspirations strongly felt by the Ukrainian people, from the stipulations and clauses that enshrine the legitimacy of these aspirations in international treaties. Historical truth and international law can only be understood and reconciled when reasonableness and discernment exist. The imperialist and revisionist interests claimed propagandistically by a state unable to implement modernizing socio-economic reforms in his own country distort the truth of the facts, distancing it from the voice of truth and common sense.
Like any war, the Russian-Ukrainian war takes place at the intersection of several planes: geopolitical, military, informational, propaganda, psychological, economic, energy, food, etc. But in the case of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the ethnocultural kinship, the meanderings of history traveled by the two peoples in conflict or together, and a large number of mixed families make the perception of this war much more strange and painful. Now, memories from the 1992 – 1993 years come to my mind when I taught the course Contemporary Political Doctrines at the State University of Kishinev as a visiting professor. On that occasion, I met numerous guild colleagues with mixed families, composed of Moldovans, respectively, Ukrainians, Russians, Armenians, Georgians, Baltics, Tatars, or even Uzbeks, Kazakhs and Tajiks from Central Asia. I can say that this multicultural landscape, familiar to me from my childhood in Tulcea, maintained a pleasant and culturally elevated atmosphere. I can’t help but wonder what is happening now, how my colleagues from Kishinev feel, how they live the war in their immediate vicinity, and how their mixed families feel the war with which they are always threatened. More, I keep in touch with some of my colleagues and Ph.D. students from Kishinev. One of them, a little older, lived as a recruit in the adventure of another tragic invasion, that of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. And the verdict of history was given then: the military invasion of Afghanistan accentuated the system crisis of the Soviet Union, hastening its collapse. After more than three decades, we can ask ourselves: is the Russian state now in a similar political-military situation? Are we somehow living at the end of another autocratic era in the expansionist history of the Russian state? Has the last hour sounded for the three-faced bronze horseman?
Russia, where are you going? The longevity of a global power depends on its capacity to innovate and develop
Skillfully combining the techniques of repression and propaganda, the absolute autocratic-oligarchic-ecclesiastical power has so far managed through its vectors the Kremlin, Gazprom, respectively, the Orthodox Patriarchate, to counteract the coagulation of any democratic political alternative with a chance of success. In this ideological-political context, I make the following observation: the propaganda of absolute power in post-Soviet Russia relies on the stability of the traditional Russian psycho-cultural model, which is impenetrable to democracy and modernizing reforms, but history shows us that the duration of a global power depends on its capacity for innovation and development, including in terms of propaganda. The propaganda of the Russian Federation took over the ideas of Russian nationalism and expansionism from the myths of Soviet propaganda and those of Tsarist Russia, counting on the fact that these, having been assimilated for centuries in the traditional psycho-cultural profile of the Russian people, will continue to function through inertia in the new political context. But as the lessons of history teach us, global powers have maintained their status as long as they have been able to respond to the major challenges and problems they have faced. Therefore, the loss of the global power status in the event of repeated failure of the economic, technological, political, propaganda innovation and development race is the alarm signal for the political leadership of the Russian Federation. Or, against the background of the unsuccessful invasion of the Russian army in Ukraine, the disorderly mobilization and the exodus of a large part of the Russian population that does not recognize the legitimacy of this invasion, we can observe the signs of the crisis of the Russian Federation as a global power and, implicitly, the symptoms of popular discontent, the nervousness of the authorities and the ideas feather of the propaganda apparatus.
Against the background of the Russian-Ukrainian war, a war of attrition of the Russian Federation against the West, I make a second observation: the propaganda of the Russian Federation aims at weakening the cohesion of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty, counting on the deterioration of the psycho-mental state of the population in the West and, implicitly, on the weakening of democratic regimes. In the horizon of the previous observations, the propaganda of the Russian Federation appears as a system of transposing into the mind of its own people of the ideological corpus of an authoritarian, centralized, repressive and expansionist power and, at the same time, as a well-coordinated and financed system of spreading in the ranks of the Western population of a message of mistrust and insecurity in the principles, values, institutions and practices of democracy and, implicitly, of social and political destabilization of Western states.
But when I talk about the ideological corpus of an authoritarian, centralized, repressive and expansionist power, I am referring equally to the plans of the “bronze horseman” who successively took the faces of Tsarist Russia, the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. Let us, therefore, trace the goals and obsessive political concerns of the three-faced bronze horseman as they have crystallized over the past four centuries: full political-administrative control of centralized state power over a vast territory and its immense wealth; control of the centralized state power over the entire population by the Russification of the numerous ethnic groups spread over a huge territory and limiting their right of movement; the repression of all opposition and rebellion through the violence and terror exercised by the secret political police under its various names throughout history: Tsarist Ohrana, CEKA / NKVD / KGB / FSB (Federal’naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti / Federal Security Service); the cult of personalized absolute power and the adulation of the supreme leader; the instillation in the mind of the Russian people, as a counterweight to Western Catholicism, of Orthodoxy, enshrined in the mystical aura of Eastern Christianity of Byzantine rite (except for the Soviet period dominated by Leninist-Stalinist atheism as “public religion”); the rejection of Western liberal democracy and of modernizing reforms that did not find in Russia after the era of the reforming tsar Peter the Great either the political class or the society prepared for their implementation. Concluding, we could say that the stake of the ideological corpus rooted in the mind of the three-faced bronze horseman was and remained the preservation of absolute power and its imposition through terror and propaganda on the entire population spread over a huge and rich territory.
A good connoisseur of the mechanisms of the individual and collective psyche, a skillful manipulator of human limits and weaknesses, the bronze horseman with three faces succeeded in an ideological-political combination through which he defies the principles and practice of democracy. When I refer to this phenomenon with dissatisfaction and concern, I have in mind the following fact: the combination of terror and propaganda woven around absolute/total power relies on the exploitation through submission and obedience of the natural reflexes of defense and survival of the individual and collectivity and on their emotional-affective receptivity. At the same time, the theory and practice of democracy — a product of Euro-North American culture and civilization — address the capacity for rational choice and discernment of the citizen and the educated collectivity, capable of (self) organization and leadership. So, Nature versus Culture ! And the three-faced bronze horseman has always known that nature is the basis of culture and that he can pay any amount in nature because he has, through terror and propaganda, the labor/fighting power of the masses. Absolutely possessing the labor/combat capacity of the crowd of individuals, the three-faced bronze horseman chose the simpler and cheaper route. He knew that it was too difficult and too expensive to develop economic and social policies, establish public services and explain to an uneducated and impoverished population the principles of the rule of law and representative democracy, the self-regulating mechanisms of the free market, the impossibility of increasing income without increasing investment, reducing the budget deficit without reducing public spending, balancing the trade balance without limiting imports and increasing exports of value-added (manufactured) products.
At the same time, a good psychologist of domination and manipulation, the three-faced bronze horseman understood that it was incomparably easier and more profitable for him to enchant the soul of the people with the boundless love for the great Russia transfigured in the sacred portrait of the motherland, to cultivate the quasi-religious obedience of the people to the beloved leader perceived over time under the guises of the daddy-tsar, of the general secretary of the communist party, of the president of the Russian Federation, to look for scapegoats, traitors and internal saboteurs or culprits in the politics of international companies and Western states. In other words, the rapacious, cynical and contemptuous policy of absolute/total power is delivered to the impoverished, uneducated, frightened population in the polished packaging of populism, the ideology of nationalist Orthodoxy, of the xenophobia, of the myth of the Savior, of the idolization of the leader. In turn, the impoverished and uneducated population buys the “box of poisoned candy” overpriced with the enthusiasm of unconsciousness and of the suicidal convenience. And so both parties, satisfied with this long social pact imposed through domination and manipulation, live in a sinister “cohabitation” whose end is not seen at the moment.
Could it be and otherwise?
March 15, 2022, the Russian Federation announced its withdrawal from the Council of Europe before being expelled. The same evening, during the extraordinary meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Russian Federation is officially excluded from the Council of Europe. On October 12, 2022, the UN General Assembly condemned with an “overwhelming” majority (143 states) the “illegal annexations” of Ukrainian territories by the Russian Federation. Thirty-five countries abstained, including China, India, Pakistan and South Africa. The five states that voted against the Resolution condemning the illegal annexations are the Russian Federation, Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Nicaragua. In the dry language of numbers, the isolation of the Russian Federation on the international stage is evident. In the drama of daily life, the population begins to feel more and more the loss of human lives on the front and the economic sanctions imposed by the international community. And yet, domestically, a political alternative capable of winning the elections by convincing people that, in fact, “Putin’s way” and any other variant lacking vision and reforming force will lead the Russian state and society to collapse has not yet been configured. In other words, the antidote capable of neutralizing the drunkenness of power and the virus of politicism in the leadership circle, nor the fear and fatalism in the ranks of the population, has not yet been found.
On the contrary, we are in a critical situation where the political Power of the Kremlin and the economic power of Gazprom have engaged in a criminal war of invasion of Ukraine, and the Orthodox Patriarchate, through the voice of Patriarch Kiril, has asked the Russians to enlist in this war. Engaged in a military adventure, isolated on the international scene, the troika of the post-Soviet power is heading towards an abyss where we do not know how many collateral victims there will be. Therefore, we are asking ourselves how the Russian Orthodox Church could free itself from the dominance of the autocratic state and the ideology of nationalist Orthodoxy. In other words, how could the Russian Orthodox Church earn its status as a “free church in a free state”? I am convinced that within the Russian Orthodox Church, some hierarchs and priests ask themselves such a question. “Can a critical mass be created within the Russian Orthodox Church that would lead to this paradigm shift ?” father-professor Wilhelm Dancă recently asked in a Romanian culture magazine (Dancă, 2022). Of course, “at the moment, no, because of the ideology of nationalist orthodoxy that dominates Russian society today”. There is still hope, though; the father-professor encourages us. “Just as Emmanuel, the “Prince of Peace”, “God with us” was born in Bethlehem, not in Nazareth, so the God who will save the Russian people will be born not in Moscow, but in exile if he was not born already. I state this based on two concrete facts. The first: from January to June 2022, 3.8 million inhabitants of Russia emigrated (…). The second: since June 7, 2022, Metropolitan Hilarion, the second hierarch in the Moscow Patriarchate, is in exile in Budapest because he did not support Patriarch Kiril’s decision to establish three dioceses dependent on the Russian Orthodox Church in the Crimean Peninsula. Therefore, I repeat, the God of peace for “Ruskii Mir” will be born in exile. All we have to do is meet Him. It’s important to be prepared !” (Ibidem).
Indeed, it is important to prepare our minds, soul and deeds for the implementation of modernizing reforms in the interest of the public good. The seeds of spiritual revival and renewal reforms are found, moreover, even in the recent documents of the Russian Orthodox Church. Prepared on the occasion of the Jubilee Episcopal Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in August 2000 — a period of crossroads that still was giving hope to Russian society in its post-communist transition — the document entitled The Foundations of the social conception of the Russian Orthodox Church has of major importance for the modernization of the Church (www.patriarchia.ru text/documents). In this document, the question of the relationship between Church and state, religion and politics are very clearly raised. Here is a memorable passage: “The Church maintains its loyalty to the state, but God’s command to carry out under all conditions and under all circumstances, the work of saving people is above this loyalty. If the power forces the Orthodox believers to apostasy towards Christ and His Church, forcing them to commit sins and acts harmful to the soul, the Church must refuse to submit to the state. Following the voice of his conscience, the Christian may not fulfill the commands of the state that push him to a serious sin” (Ibidem, III. 5). What a dizzying chasm between the position of moral high ground assumed by the Russian Orthodox Church in a moment of freedom, and the incitement to invasion and a war of mass destruction uttered by the current Patriarch Kiril in the name of a church enslaved to the autocratic Power of the Kremlin !
Starting from the fact that a society is functional as long as it can solve the major crises it faces, as a Romanian intellectual familiar with the Russian ethos through the comprehensive attitude of transposition into the situation, I advance the following hypothesis: freed from the dominance of the autocratic state and the ideology of nationalist Orthodoxy, the Russian Orthodox Church could contribute – through a living catechesis that appeals to the inner voice of the self – to the spiritual education of the people and, implicitly, to the preparation of a functional society capable of modernizing reforms in political, economic, cultural terms. The chances of a functional society in the Russian Federation, as well as in Romania, depend on the application of rational public policy programs in a spiritual-religious climate freed from the ideological-political enslavement. In such circumstances, by adopting the comprehensive attitude of transposition into the situation, we can perceive the exit of the Orthodox Church from the post-Soviet power troika as a necessary act of moral purification and soul salvation possible when each of us, hierarchs, clerics, the laity of good faith, we will have the courage to act by listening to the voice of our own conscience. I am aware of the complexity of such a process and the difficulties and risks assumed by the hierarchs and reforming priests in the Russian Federation. However, exceptional situations call for exceptional measures. Beyond the fears induced by the autocratic-oligarchic-ecclesiastical power to each of us, the human tragedy and gravity of the Russian-Ukrainian war can only be faced by listening to the inner voice of moral conscience. Living catechesis, synodal consultation, and the ecumenical spirit cannot occur outside the dialogue with the deep self and the assumption of moral consciousness.
Flashback. An unforgettable evening at the “Taras Shevchenko” National Museum in Kyiv
August 1973. I am on a trip to the Soviet Union, organized by the National Tourist Office (ONT, Romania). After visiting Moscow, Leningrad and Minsk, Kiev followed. Situated on both banks of the Dnieper, which flows majestically among the city’s forested hills, the Ukrainian metropolis has been adorned during the centuries with palaces, cathedrals and monasteries whose gilded domes glisten in the sunlight. We visit the Kiev Monastery of the Caves (Kiev Pechersk Lavra), the cathedrals of Saint Sophia, Saint Volodymyr, and the Holy Dormition. In the evening, we attend a memorable meeting with the poetry of Taras Shevchenko, whose literary work is the basis of the modern Ukrainian language and literature. Then, to the musical background of a nostalgic Ukrainian folk song, one hears the verses loaded with a strong premonitory message of the “cobzar” of the Ukrainian soul…
– Chatham House Report (May, 13, 2021). Myths and misconceptions in the debate on Russia. How they affect Western policy, and what can be done.
– Cornea, A. (2022). “Calea lui Gorbaciov” și “calea lui Putin” (“Gorbachev’s way” and “Putin’s way”). Dilema Veche (Old Dilemma), nr. 961, September 8. dilemaveche.ro.
– Dancă,W. (2022). Elemente religioase în conflictul ruso-ucrainean (Religious elements in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict ). Dilema Veche (Old Dilemma), nr. 955, July 28 – August 3. dilemaveche.ro › La porţile orientului
– Declarație cu privire la poziția Partidului Muncitoresc Român în problemele mișcării comuniste și muncitorești internaționale adoptată la Plenara lărgită a C.C. al P.M.R. din aprilie 1964 (Statement regarding the position of the Romanian Workers’ Party in the problems of the international communist and labor movement, adopted at the enlarged Plenary of the Central Committee of the Romanian Workers’ Party (1964). www.cnsas.ro › documente_programatice › 1964 Declaratia PMR
– Goncearenko, R. (2022). Opinie: De ce pacea în războiul din Ucraina este iluzorie în prezent (Opinion: Why peace in the Ukraine war is currently illusory). Deutche Welle, Romania. June 3.
– Osnovy sotsial’noy kontseptsii Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi (The foundations of the social conception of the Russian Orthodox Church). Jubilee Episcopal Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, August 13-16, 2000. The original text: “Tserkov’ sokhranyayet loyal’ nost’ gosudarstvu, no vyshe trebovaniya loyal’nosti stoit Bozhestvennaya zapoved’: sovershat’ delo spaseniya lyudey v lyubykh usloviyakh i pri lyubykh obstoya tel’stvakh. Yesli vlast’ prinuzhdayet pravoslavnykh veruyushchikh k otstuple niyu ot Khrista i Yego otkazat’ gosudarstvu v povinovenii. Khristianin, sleduya veleniyu sovesti, mozhet ne ispolnit’ poveleniya vlasti, ponuzhdayushchego k tyazhkomu grekhu” (III. 5). www.patriarchia.ru text/documents.
– Patriarch Kirill (2022). “Go bravely to fulfill your military duty. And remember that if you die for your country, you will be with God in his kingdom, glory and eternal life” (“Idismelo na vypolneniye svoyego voinskogo dolga. I pomni, chto yesli ty umresh’ zasvoyu stra nu, ty budesh’ s Bogom v yego tsarstve, slave i vechnoy zhizni”). twitter.com › nexta_tv › status.
– Pora, A. (2022). Oligarhii conectați la Gazprom mor pe capete. Ce știu despre Putin (Oligarchs connected to Gazprom die on their heads. What do they know about Putin), Free Europe, Romania, May 4. romania.europalibera.org › oligarhii-gazprom-putin.
– Právda and ístina in Teacher’s newspaper, No. 4 of February 2, 2010 (Právda i ístina v russkom yazyke, № 4 ot 2 fevralya 2010 / Правда и истина в русском языке -Учительская газета ug.ru › pravda-i-istina-v-russkom-yazyke.
– Pushkin, A. S.(2021). “The Bronze Horseman: A St Petersburg Story”. Retrieved from http://www.tyutchev.org.uk/. The original text (1833).
First quote: “Na beregu pustynnykh voln / Stoyal on, dum velikikh poln, / I vdal’ glyadel. Pred nim shiroko Rekaneslasya; (…) I dumal on: / Otsel’ grozit’ my budem shvedu, / Zdes’ budet gorod zalozhen / Na zlo nadmennomu sosedu. Prirodoy zdes’ nam suzhdeno / Yevropu prorubit’ okno, / Nogoyu tverdoy stat’ pri more. / Syuda po novym im volnam / Vse flagi v gosti budut k nam, / I zapiruyem na prostore”.
Second quote: “No bednyy, bednyy moy Yevgeniy… / Uvy! yego smyaténnyy um (….)./ Bezhit i slyshit za soboy / — Kak budto groma grokhotan’ye — Tyazholo-zvonkoye skakan’ye / Po potryasonnoy mostovoy. / I, ozaron lunoyu blednoy, Prostorshi ruku v vyshine, / Za nim nesotsya Vsadnik Mednyy / Na zvonko- Skachus chem kone; / I vo vsyu noch’ bezumets bednyy, / Kuda stopy ni obrashchal, Za nim povsyudu Vsadnik Mednyy / S tyazholym topo tom skakal (…)”. Alexandr S. Pushkin, Mednyy vsadnik. ilibrary.ru › text; www.culture.ru › … › Александр Пушкин — стихи.
– Putin, V. (2021). Ob istoricheskom yedinstve russkikh i ukraitsev (About the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians ), July 12. kremlin.ru › events › president › news
– Radio Free Europe. Radio Liberty (September 5, 2022). Court Deals Blow To Russian Press By Revoking Novaya Gazeta Print License, www.rferl.org › russian-court-print-license-independent-newspaper-novaya...
– Valev, B. E. (1964). Problemele dezvoltării economice a raioanelor dunărene din România, Bulgaria și U.R.S.S (The problems of the economic development of the Danube districts in Romania, Bulgaria and the U.S.S.R) published as an Appendix to the paper, Probleme ale relațiilor economice dintre țările socialiste (Problems of economic relations between socialist countries) in Viața economică (Economic Life), Year II, no. 24 (43) of June 12, 1964, pp. 47-59.
– Yavlinsky, G. in dialogue with Sokolov, M. (2016). “V lyuboy rossiyskoy sisteme – lozh’ i vor ovstvo !” (“In any Russian system – lying and stealing !”). Radio Svoboda, August, 22.