‘Russia will not be grasped by mind...’
23 December, 2010
‘Russia will not be grasped by mind...’

‘Russia will not be grasped by mind...’
Russia will not be grasped by mind,
Measure it not with general yardstick!  
Its mien is beyond the human perception,
Russia should only be taken for granted.

(Fyodor Tyutchev, Great Russian
romantic poet of the 19th century)

Ex-president of France Jacques Chirac used these lines in his acceptance speech, when receiving the Russian State Prize. These are the words which most expressly describe the Russian state, and the mentality of the Russian people,

accentuating the irrationality of typical Russian behavior. This is a poetic image of the enigmatic Russian soul, which is overly romanticized and clearly contradicts Bismarck’s opinion of the nation: ‘Never fight the Russians! They will respond with an unpredictable stupidity to every military feint of yours’.  Winston Churchill described Russia as ‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’. In the last hundred years Russia has gone through extraordinary changes: from autocracy via communism to an elected president and legislature; from capitalism through planned economy to free market; from illiterate agrarian state to computer literacy and industrialism. Russia has endured revolutionary changes, wars and communist terror. Those rigid and scathing vicissitudes of life have probably affected the ‘romantic Russian soul’ and transformed it into a violent political temperament, so brutally bothering the world. All that is connected with Russia is simply scary and depressing. The other day, I was reading through a novel by Sidney Sheldon ‘THE SKY IS FALLING’, one of the characters of which tries to describe Russia: ‘It’s like standing near a volcano, waiting for it to erupt. You never know when it’s going to happen. The men in power are stealing billions from the country and the people are starving. That’s what started the last revolution. God knows what’s going to happen now’. Sheldon’s book was last published about 10 years ago. The quoted excerpt sounds like it is happening right now. Being fair enough, the author has noticed the other side of the Russian story too: ‘The culture here is incredible. They have the Bolshoi Theater, the great Hermitage, the Pushkin Museum, the Russian ballet, the Moscow Circus – the list goes on and on. Russia produces more books than the rest of the world combined, and the average Russian reads three times as many books a year as the average United States citizen’. Using the words of another character of the novel, ‘Maybe they’re reading the wrong books’. Possibly!
Russia is certainly different from the rest of the world in many respects, and indeed, it is impossible to understand it. Poet Tyutchev’s verse is not an accident at all – it is born through painful intellectual reflection and excruciating spiritual pains. The undying question never leaves us, the people who are spending huge amount of time in the attempt to answer this question: What does Russia want from the rest of the world? Why is it resorting to so much violence? What is the benefit? Maybe the gain is the preservation of the empire. But if Russia wants to remain as imperial as it has always been, then the Russians will have to understand that the empire should voluntarily and diligently take care of the nations and ethnic groups comprising the empire. Not just the contrary! This irrefutable rule must finally be learnt by Russians. They can’t escape it. When you are an empire, there will be many various nations living together with you. This all comes with the territory. But if by any chance, you don’t want to be an empire, you will have to give up the idea of ruling other nations and ethnic groups like an imposing power. Why beat up people of other nationalities and ethnicities in the streets if they are part of the empire? Will Russians get out from anywhere they are living around the world and go back to Russia? If not, then they have to be living by the same rules, they are demanding from others to go by. Isn’t this a plain logic? I can’t put it in more simplistic wording. Historically and currently, and even futuristically, an average intellectual has, is and will characterize Russia exactly the same way. Among the expressed opinions about Russia, negative ones are prevalent. So why tolerate the rubbish? What to do? Just think well that the above quoted words are a simple truth, and make a conclusion that we, the rest of the mankind are getting terribly tired of Russian geopolitical and imperial BS and let’s do something dramatic about it. For example, let the entire diplomatic corps, accredited in Russia get together and leave Russia in 24 hours, not even looking back at the monster. This will blow the whistle very loudly. I think! This is just one measure. I have hundreds of even more effective ones up my sleeve. For instance, let’s call a massive international conference with the participation of wise and fair professionals and denounce the violator of international rules and norms. Acting in concert with the human obligation of this generation of the mankind. Delay might be lethal for our civilization. The remnants of the Soviet Empire are still erect and functional. Make no mistake on that! And nothing good may happen to the world unless it is dead and gone once and for all. Period!   
(The idea to write this article was born in a lengthy and thoughtful conversation with Dr. Vakhtang  Barbakadze, to whom I owe certain amount of credit for his personal input).

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