The Russian Occupant’s Burden
12 March, 2015
The video “Hello, I am a Russian occupant” has drawn the attention of almost 5 million people and generated over 25 thousand comments. Russian Vice PM Dmitry Rogozin retweeted the link and some Ukrainians even started producing their video replies to it. But what is so special about it?

It is impossible to produce a video with a Kalashnikov rifle, no matter how perfectly one wields it.

The text is by a little-known user of (a popular Russian site
for amateur writers) Alek Ivanov. Russian blogger Evgeny Zhurov produced the video and published it on the Youtube channel “ОКеям — Нет!” (Down with the OKs!) The title denotes strong disgust towards Western values and lifestyle embodied in such a typical American abbreviation as “OK.” The channel’s subtitle is “Anti-Western creative work.” The main message of the video is justifying Russia’s invasions of its neighboring countries, because, as the author claims, “they bring goods of the advanced civilization to the backward ones they conquer”.
“Hello, [the off-screen commentary goes] - I am a Russian occupant. That is my trade. That was historically established.
I occupied Siberia. Before Russians they sold women for a bundle of sable skins there. But now they produce oil, natural gas, aluminum, build multi-story houses, hospitals, kindergartens etc.
I occupied the Baltics. Built factories and power plants there instead of their ridiculous farms. Under my rule, the Baltics produced high-quality radio engineering and cars, but I was asked to leave the land. Now they produce only sprats and the majority of the working population cleans toilets in Europe.
I occupied Ukraine. I built factories and power plants there too, as well as bridges, mines and universities. Ukraine produced aircraft engines, ships, tanks and cars. I was asked to leave the land. Now Ukrainians produce only Maidans and dictatorships, but they are sure that Europe will receive them with outstretched arms.
And if you want to know, I am fed up with making excuses for being an occupant. Yes, I am a natural-born occupant. I know a Kalashnikov rifle better than a milk nipple. I am an aggressor and a bloodthirsty freak. Be afraid!
I don’t need your hypocritical “freedom” - freedom of not being a human. I don’t need your rotten democracy of capitalism to be a human, your duplicitous concepts and everything you call “Western values” - perversions, vices, deception and endless greed - are alien to me. I have other interests. Russian humans are more interested in space, education, medicine, science and development of everybody’s creativity.”
In short, this absurdity is what the West is up against. Even for those who did not study Russian history, the text looks like what a rebellious teenager might come up with when he runs out of rational arguments and switches to threats and curses. To begin with, the video was produced using American software and published on, which is hosted on American soil. It is impossible to produce a video with a Kalashnikov rifle, no matter how perfectly one wields it. But the overall concept of the message is deeply rooted in the history of Soviet media manipulation.
For example, many Russian journalists like to quote an utterance they attribute to Winston Churchill: “Stalin found Russia working with wooden plows and left it equipped with atomic piles.” Of course, Churchill never said that; the saying was produced by Soviet spin-doctors and became extremely popular only because the majority of Russians don’t speak English and have a tendency towards believing anything they agree with or like.
In an attempt to justify Russian aggression, the video (unwittingly, of course) resorts to the old idea of Rudyard Kipling, expressed in his poem “The White Man’s Burden”:
Take up the White Man’s burden, Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives’ need...
The poem was published in 1899, with the subtitle “The United States and the Philippine Islands.” It appeals to white men to colonize and rule other nations for the benefit of those people, justifying imperialism as a noble enterprise. As the video reveals, Zhurov and Ivanov consider Russian invasions to have “progressive” influence as well, because they “civilize” “backward” nations. The stale idea was inspired not by Kipling, but by Russian poets like Alexander Pushkin and his poem “To the Slanderers of Russia” where he appeals to those who criticize Moscow’s expansions:
What stirred you up? The throes of Lithu­ania?
Desist: this is a strife of Slavs among themselves...
Let us put the very interesting idea that Lithuanians are Slavs (even though they are not) and thus must be conquered aside and open Ms. Ewa Thompson’s book “Imperial Knowledge: Russian Literature and Colonialism.” She writes that while many Indian Brahmins felt hatred or enmity to the Brits, they did not despise them. Russian colonizers ended up in a vastly different situation, encountering extremely contemptuous treatment in many parts of their empire. Conquered nations criticized imperial power from the position of cultural superiority that Russians universally attribute to In reality, Russian influence had nothing in common with modern technology; in essence, it was purely parasitic. This phenomenon is explained in the response to the “Russian occupant” video, produced by the Ukrainian Ministry of Information Policy.
“...I occupied Siberia, [the off-screen commentary goes] - and I don’t give a damn about the local residents. I am not going to build roads and new cities there. I don’t give a damn about extinct Siberian townships. Let the Yakuts, the Evenks and the Buryats drink themselves to death in their dirty huts while I plunder their mineral wealth. I will suck Siberia dry and then establish a nuclear testing area there. And if someone doesn’t like it, he better remember Chechnya. I will come and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians – just because I am a Russian occupant.
...I occupied Ukraine because I am nothing without Kyiv. Ukrainians are too free and I was simply obliged to punish them. I starved millions of Hohols (a slur for Ukrainians) to death, stole their property and hanged or shot the most proud ones. I tried to destroy their language and break their will, but failed. Then I decided to unleash an open war against Ukraine. I don’t give a damn about the Russian-speaking Donbass; I destroyed it almost completely anyway. But I do not aim for Kyiv, either. I would like to drive my tank into Europe instead. They lead too prosperous a life and I have to punish them.”
In that struggle, the conflict between these two videos, the victory is won not only through the truthfulness of presented facts, but also due to whether the audience needs to be held at gunpoint to be convinced. And we know all too well who is always eager to threaten people with “radioactive ashes.”

Author: Oleg Shynkarenko