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Friday, March 16, 2018

The writer Tatyana Ustinova: “the Past does not let go, hurts me”

The wounds inflicted on our people in the XX century, “will not be healed for decades, if not centuries,” said the writer Tatyana Ustinova

Sergey Naryshkin presents the award to Tatyana Ustinova. Photo: rushistory.org

Russian historical society celebrates its 150th anniversary. According to its Charter approved by Emperor Alexander II on may 23 (June 5, new style), 1866, the society was “to Celia to collect, process and distribute in Russia… materials and documents related to national history pertaining to.

It is noteworthy, however, that the 150th anniversary of the RIO almost coincides with the centenary of his defeat: this institution, like most other attributes of the “old world”, could not survive the catastrophe of 1917.

Vospriimchivosti traditions of the Russian historical society was re-established relatively recently — in 2012.

On the vicissitudes of Russian history, the features of national memory and our historical prospects, we decided to speak with last year’s winner of the historical-literary prize “Clio”, established by the Russian historical society and the Russian book Union, the writer Tatyana Ustinova. Explain that the award “Clio” Ustinov was awarded for his novel “one Hundred years”, which resonate modernity and the history of Russia of the last century.

— Tatyana Vitalevna, the main character of your novel “one Hundred years” expressed in the final thoughts that, as I thought, your close: “they (the people who lived a hundred years ago. — “MK”) did not work, we can’t… we still Have a chance to fix something… Because… we know that they have failed”. I wish you complements your character. What exactly did not work for them, that it is impossible to have and how big are the chances to avoid a hundred years ago made fatal mistakes?

– This book is about the Russian parliamentarism. Then, a hundred years ago, with the Parliament it was impossible practically anything.

To some extent the same problems again and now the laws, as we know, sometimes obtained crooked, unpalatable, contrary to the laws adopted earlier. But now something is obtained, and then, absolutely nobody knew what to do should the Parliament that should be “output”.

The state Duma functioned primarily as a platform for delivering speeches. And the more these speeches shook the faith of the people in power, the more successful it was considered parliamentary activity. Speeches of deputies, to thwart ovation, came down to the fact that the world is exceptionally unfair and that the only way to improve is to oppose the legitimate government.

— But do not you think that now we hit the other extreme? Our current Parliament won the nickname “mad printer” for uncritical, blind support of the initiatives of the government.

— If our Parliament was a meeting of conspirators, then it would make sense to demand revolutionary measures. But this is a legitimately elected body, he did not have to fight the power. Although the deputies are, of course, can and must adjust the power to induce it to act in the public interest.

— The accusations, in fact, just relate to the fact that the adjustment is not happening: the Duma majority vote for the governmental and presidential bills quickly, obediently and without much thought.

— I can say that I am well aware of the situation with the adoption of the copyright act. This law was discussed more than a year. Can’t say that it was very quick.

— But amendments to the Constitution are accepted in a matter of days.

— This, of course, too, is voting for one minute and for everything. But this is not what the people who work in the Duma, any abnormal or hating people. The whole thing, I think, is the inability. The inability to reconcile the interests of different social groups, a lack of understanding of how this is done. It’s really a very difficult job.

— But in any case you feel the progress in relation to the Parliament a hundred years ago?

— Well, of course. A hundred years ago parliamentarism in Russia was just beginning, and now gradually we come to understanding how it should be. There’s a cliché that history does not know subjunctive mood. However if all these hundred years the Russian Parliament worked fine, I assure you, we have now would be an excellent legislative body.

— It’s true, incidentally, that the idea of “a Hundred years” you have prompted state Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin?

— Yes. And I am not shy. This is a very well educated man, who cared for the cause that he serves.

— That is, it is a kind of state order?

– No, I beg you. No “government orders”. What do you mean “idea”? We had some General conversation about the first State Duma. This period in the history of Russia, beginning XX century, very dark. It is poorly researched, very little about him is written. And Naryshkin said: “I Have of the book is terribly curious, read”. And sent me these books, including, for example, were the memories of Ariadne, Tyrkova Williams (journalist, writer, member of the Central Committee of the cadet party. — “MK”).

I began to read, and it really turned out to be terribly interesting. Well, it’s getting interesting, already wanted nothing to do with me, so I wrote this novel. When I wonder all by itself it turns out.

— Do you see any other Parallels with that era — in addition to parliamentary?

– The Parallels are obvious. First and foremost, it is absolutely a complete lack of understanding between the government and the intelligentsia. The intelligentsia does not want to enter into any dialogue with the authorities, the government in turn does not pay any attention to the intelligentsia. The same pattern was observed then.

Or take the problem of terrorism. In the beginning of the century revolutionaries-terrorists were killed and injured tens of thousands of people. And for the most part they were ordinary officials: minor officials, postmasters, railroad workers, lower ranks of the police… When we in the Soviet school told me how good was Alexander Ulyanov, who tried to kill the king, I had no idea that the victims of revolutionary terrorism has become such a number of completely innocent people. Everything is repeated, developing a spiral: terrorism is a threat not only for Russia but for all countries, for all human communities.

— We often hear that our problems are largely caused by the fact that our citizens do not know their history and few are interested in it. As far as I can tell, the same point of view shared by you.

— Yes, absolutely.

But there is another point of view: we are too fixated on its history. The country seems to be moving backwards, with his head turned back. We’re very much and passionately discuss historical events and very rare and few are talking about the future. In short — the country is living in the past. You see such a problem?

– No, I do not see. I was lucky in our family during the great Patriotic war, no one died. All worked in scientific institutes — TSAGI, for example — where on the front did not take. However, I absolutely know, that after the occurrence of such events, which befell our Motherland in the twentieth century, it is impossible serene gaze to look to the future.

We have not licked the wounds. The Russo-Japanese war, revolution of 1905, world war I, two revolutions, Civil war, war communism, collectivization, famine, repressions, the Great Patriotic… the country hosted the ice rink, sweeping away everything in its path. And from this disaster we are only some 70 years!

Tell us about your father. When parents come to visit me, I ostavljaju your table the different meats, and dad with fun treats. But after a visit I always find him under a plate of bread crusts. He can’t eat the bread because is afraid to return to the hunger that he once experienced. I’m just his daughter — not granddaughter and not granddaughter. In the future well see, living in a country that has never fought on its territory. We have a very different past. This past does not let go, taunting me, and think I’m not the only one. That’s why we have so many talks on historical topics. We have just too terrible past. Any psychologist will tell you that in order to get rid of fear, we need to talk about it.

— But such conversations often do not unite, but divides us. So far we have raging violent debates about the revolution, about Lenin, about Stalin…

— Disputes about historical figures always were and will be. Although many participants in these debates, it seems to me, just want them to pay attention. But any person engaged in public activities should relate to their desire “to pointeresnee” with the possible consequences. Need to feel responsible for how you speak your words. This I do not mean that it is necessary to introduce censorship, and the fact that our tribunes should be understanding what they say and why they say. If such an understanding were available, discrepancies in the understanding of our past would be, I’m sure, much less.

— And you have no desire to debate with, say, your colleague at the Council for culture under the Chairman of the state Duma, film Director Vladimir Bortko, bluntly calls himself a Stalinist?

— I try not to take seriously this kind of verbal exercise. What is there to discuss? About the genocide that Stalin gave to his people, everyone knows. I have no idea what can be justified. The fact that “chop wood — chips fly? Industrialization? But in the same logic and about Hitler to say that he was a big fellow: the economy picked up, raked it, United the nation… Or recall, for example, Bokassa (first President, then Emperor of the Central African Empire. — “MK”). Leonid Brezhnev at one time loved him very much, mouth sugar kissed. Bokassa was also a strong leader and good Manager. However, in addition, he was a man-eater. What is more important — the fact that he was a good Manager, or that he was a cannibal? In my opinion — still the last.

— Nevertheless, Vladimir Vladimirovich Bortko has a large number of like-minded people… However, it just confirms your idea that the wounds have not healed, including the wounds of mentality, national consciousness.

— Yes, not healed. And want to upset you: they will not be healed for decades, if not centuries. And all this time we’re going to look back.

— Speaking of looking back: Dmitry Peskov — press Secretary of the President, the other, but also an important official, head of direction “Young professionals” Agency for strategic initiatives, responsible among other things for the future scenarios, said recently that the ideal scenario is one in which the country will look like Russia of the late XIX century. As you are such futurology?

— I don’t quite know what this official is referring. If we are talking about some kind of pastoral idyll with lawns and estates, reading Goncharova for a samovar, educators, enlightening the people, then that’s fine. However, I do not see any possibility to implement this utopian scenario. In addition, it very little resembles the Russia of the late XIX century. It was no to a lesser extent strife-torn than today’s Russia.

– They say that writers and poets have the gift of foresight. I to such opinion were treated, frankly, rather skeptical, until I read the novel “ZHD” Dmitry Bykov, who is, as far as I know, one of your favorite contemporary authors.

The novel describes the Russia of the near future that came to a complete standstill and disarray after the world opened the gas phlogiston and Russian hydrocarbons became useless. Bykovskaya dystopia came out long before everyone found out about the shale oil and gas, and, it seems, the first part of the start come true… all I mean is that I want to know what your own feeling. Whether you are a historical optimist?

– No, they are not. Although I can’t say that I fully share the pessimism of Dima. You can live well without relying on hydrocarbons. At least in Russia — for sure. However, this requires an entirely different social system that taught people to work, honest life, to the interests other than the interests or glamorous gangster communities.

Unfortunately, no progress in this direction — towards the development of education, culture, health, I can’t see. So personally I have no optimism. Social disintegration, which reached, I think, already of monstrous proportions. Soon we will get on the scoresheet and language: how a person pronounces the first sentence, you’ll know exactly what the man social class and whether, for example, to take it to work… It’s scary, and it’s not far off. And what will happen next — hard to say.

— Going back to my question raised at the beginning of our conversation — about how big are the chances to avoid the mistakes made a hundred years ago. That is, the odds are not one hundred percent?

— No, not one hundred percent. But, of course, they are. While the world is still turning, yet bright light… and it would be strange to say that we have no chance there. What now — lay down and die?

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