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  • An Hour after Nobel — Full Text of Sviatlana Alexievich’s Press Conference

    The first press conference of the Nobel prize winner in literature Sviatlana Alexievich  was held in the editorial office of the “Nasha Niva” newspaper. The writer described her first feelings when she learnt that she’d got the prize.


    So how did she feel?

    — I didn’t think about myself, of course. A few days ago, a Ger­man the­ater which stages The War’s Unwom­an­ly Face want­ed some hero­ines to come to Frank­furt. And you know, I called around 50 of them, and nobody’s alive. And before that I had the same expe­ri­ence with my hero from Cher­nobyl. And I thought: what a pity it is that these peo­ple wouldn’t know. But they once had the book in their hands. I thought that it was not only my reward, but the reward… to our cul­ture in our lit­tle coun­try, which through­out the whole his­to­ry has been grind­ed, pres­sured from all sides. Once I thought about it. I won’t hide it — of course, it was a strong per­son­al joy, and of course there was alarm, because after all there are such great shad­ows — Bunin, Paster­nak… These shad­ows are too great, and they seem to come to life for me, this is very seri­ous. And if some­times I thought that I was tired, I was dis­ap­point­ed in some things, but then I thought that it will be impos­si­ble to slow down. Those were my main feel­ings.

    — And whom would you like to thank in the first place?

    — First of all, I would cer­tain­ly say thank you to my teach­ers: Ales Adamovich and Vasil Bykau. These are my teach­ers. Vasil Bykau, who was an exam­ple of human resis­tance, and Ales Adamovich, who, I would say, influ­enced my way think­ing. I don’t know any­body equal to him in the Euro­pean scale of think­ing in the Belaru­sian cul­ture. I thought at first about these peo­ple with regard to Belarus. But I have lots of them: my heroes, my pub­lish­ers around the world, the peo­ple who made me think about some­thing or who gave me some guess about humankind, because in order to hear some­thing new about humans, you need to ask in a new way. So we all are made of the teach­ers. We all stand on the shoul­ders of the fam­i­ly, on the shoul­ders of the peo­ple we’ve met.

    — What this award will mean for peo­ple, in your opin­ion?

    — Just yes­ter­day, I read in blogs that one per­son wrote: “when I was asked how I feel about the fact that Alex­ievich could get the prize, I said that hadn’t read her books, I watched only her movie”. And he wrote that he felt proud. So I want­ed it to be pride. We are a small proud coun­try.

    — Can you explain what it means to you to be a Belaru­sian writer who writes in Russ­ian?

    — I’m writ­ing about a utopia man, a red man, 70 years of this utopia, and then 20 years as we are com­ing out of this utopia. And it spoke Russ­ian. That’s where the lan­guage comes from, because my heroes are Ukraini­ans, Rus­sians, Belaru­sians, Tatars and Gyp­sies – there was even one gyp­sy hero­ine – they are dif­fer­ent. I could say that I feel like being a human of the Belaru­sian world, a human of the Russ­ian cul­ture, a very pow­er­ful inoc­u­la­tion of the Russ­ian cul­ture, and a human who lived a long time in the world and is cer­tain­ly cos­mopoli­tan. The per­son who sees the world as a great space. I was also con­vinced of this by Cher­nobyl, when after Cher­nobyl I trav­elled a lot. And I have the book Cher­nobyl Prayer, and there, you know, you don’t feel like “I am Belaru­sian”, but you feel that you are equal to the hedge­hog, the hare, all liv­ing in the same world, that we are all one liv­ing species. This is a very strong feel­ing. And all this togeth­er is in me.

    — Why have you not yet been con­grat­u­lat­ed by the Belaru­sian pres­i­dent, and what is the atti­tude of the Belaru­sian author­i­ties to you?

    — Well, the Belaru­sian author­i­ties pre­tend that I don’t exist. My books are not pub­lished, I can’t speak any­where, at least at the Belaru­sian tele­vi­sion… Oh, are they already there? And the Belaru­sian Pres­i­dent. Two hours have passed since the deci­sion of the Nobel Prize Com­mit­tee was announced, and I have received around 200 let­ters, and in one of them, a very good guy wrote: I won­der how Lukashen­ka is going to behave. He award­ed Darya Dom­rache­va the Hero of Belarus, so what will he do now? The Russ­ian Min­is­ter of Infor­ma­tion, Mr. Grig­oriev, only con­grat­u­lat­ed me, he was one of the first to con­grat­u­late.

    — Will you accept the title of the Hero of Belarus, if there is an offer?

    — I need to think, but it would be an award not from Lukashen­ka, but from the Moth­er­land.

    — As soon as the world knew that you got the prize, many com­ments appeared on the Russ­ian web­sites, say­ing that you got the Nobel Prize because of hatred for Rus­sia, the “Russ­ian world”, Putin, etc. Do you think that it’s true? That you got the Prize only because of hatred. And do you have hatred for the “Russ­ian world”? By the way, Oleg Kashin con­sid­ers you an adept of the “Russ­ian world”, of the Russ­ian lit­er­a­ture.

    — When peo­ple have such fanat­i­cal ideas, they cer­tain­ly look for them every­where. I just read a piece of what Kashin wrote, and I was very sur­prised. There’s also Zakhar Prilepin who writes. I mean, that some peo­ple are writ­ing the same things in Belarus – that I hate not only the Belaru­sian author­i­ties, but peo­ple as well. I do not think any­one likes the truth. I say what I think. I do not hate, I love the Russ­ian peo­ple, I love the Belaru­sian peo­ple, my fam­i­ly on my father’s side is com­plete­ly Belaru­sian, for exam­ple my beloved grand­fa­ther. And all I’m a fourth-gen­er­a­tion rur­al teacher, my great-grand­fa­ther stud­ied with Jakub Kolas, so I feel, it is my home­land, my land. At the same time, my grand­moth­er and my moth­er are Ukrain­ian. I love Ukraine. And when I recent­ly was on the Maid­an and saw these pho­tos of young peo­ple, of the “Heaven’s Hun­dred”, I stood and cried. This is also my land. So, it’s not hatred. It’s hard to be an hon­est man in our time. And we must not suc­cumb to this con­cil­i­a­tion on which total­i­tar­i­an pow­er always counts. I love the book Con­science of the Nazi, from time to time I re-read it — it is about how fas­cism crept into the life of the Ger­mans in the 30s. First, when the Ger­mans were said not to go to some doc­tors or tai­lors, they, on the con­trary, went to Jew­ish doc­tors and tai­lors. But a very pow­er­ful machine is run­ning, it press­es the most prim­i­tive “but­tons” in a per­son, what we can see today, espe­cial­ly in Rus­sia — in ten years they have changed peo­ple a lot. I asked my father “How have you sur­vived that?” And he told me only one thing: it was very scary. I think that it’s always scary to remain a human; it’s always dif­fi­cult, even if peo­ple are not so mas­sive­ly tak­en into pris­ons as in those years. But you can see, in Rus­sia they are already being tak­en to prison, and in Belarus as well. We must have this courage, and what they say – well…

    — And can you define your atti­tude to the “Russ­ian world”? Which “Russ­ian world” you like and which one you don’t like, giv­en that you write in Russ­ian?

    — My heroes are Rus­sians, right? I love the Russ­ian world, how­ev­er, I still can’t under­stand what they mean. I love a good Russ­ian world, a human­i­tar­i­an Russ­ian world, a world which is respect­ed by the whole world — the lit­er­a­ture, the bal­let, the great music. Yes, I love this world. But I do not love the world of Beria, Stal­in, Putin, Shoigu — it’s not my world.

    — The char­ac­ter of a red man… Is it rel­e­vant in today’s envi­ron­ment?

    — I think that this book is not about the past (Sec­ond Hand Time), but about what we stand for, our ground. It’s about where we come from. I val­ue the words that I had spe­cial­ly put in the epi­graph, that total­i­tar­i­an­ism, the camp, let’s call it this way, cor­rupts both the exe­cu­tion­er and the vic­tim. We can’t say that the vic­tim comes out total­ly not trau­ma­tized. Here we are now liv­ing in that “trau­ma­tized” peri­od. We all, even you (young jour­nal­is­tic audi­ence) are some­how nailed to this Sovi­et expe­ri­ence. And then, as they pro­voked and esca­lat­ed the sit­u­a­tion in Rus­sia, and 86% of peo­ple became hap­py to see how peo­ple in Donet­sk were killed and laughed at the Ukraini­ans. Or those who now believe that every­thing can be solved using just strength.

    — Do you think that the Belaru­sians will rec­og­nize the country’s first Nobel Prize win­ner in the street? And would you like it?

    — (Laughs) In 2013, when I was among the three can­di­dates, I remem­ber the sit­u­a­tion when I was trav­el­ling from Berlin or some­thing and was so tired, and a very young man approached me and asked: “Are you Svi­at­lana Alex­ievich?” I said yes. “Wow! You are can­di­date for the Nobel Prize! Oh my God, I have nei­ther your book, nor even some paper”. And he took out a box of cig­a­rettes and asked me to sign it for him! I am not a vain­glo­ri­ous per­son absolute­ly, and I don’t like pub­lic­i­ty, I don’t like when peo­ple rec­og­nize you because you’re dif­fer­ent, and not always ready for the peo­ple, one can be very tired. But there are moments when you think – there is some­thing in you that touch­es this man. It is not by acci­dent. If it wasn’t real­ly impor­tant for him, he wouldn’t have run up to me with this box of cig­a­rettes. I do not want to be like Kirko­rov and mask myself when going out, but some­times, when you see that peo­ple need it and they are ready to talk to you and they trust you as a com­pan­ion, it is cer­tain­ly nice.

    — In your last book you show the read­ers how dif­fi­cult it was for a usu­al man to sur­vive the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union. Are there some moments from this expe­ri­ence that are under­val­ued and described not in detail, and that should be stressed once more, in your opin­ion? Maybe some dif­fi­cul­ties of tran­si­tion to anoth­er way of life?

    — I think, of course, we haven’t yet reflect­ed on it and hadn’t even realised it. I wrote the book, but I think a hun­dred of Solzhen­it­syns can work in this area, because it’s been 70 and some­thing years, mil­lions of peo­ple dead, an idea that began with the desire to build a “city of the sun” end­ed with so much blood. This is much to think about more. I do not think I man­aged to tell every­thing. But I could tell what I real­ized in these five books in the series of “The red man”. Some­body of you should come and do this (laughs).


    The War’s Unwom­an­ly Face, cov­er

    Find descrip­tion on books page by Svi­at­lana Alex­ievich

    — What are you work­ing on now?

    — Now I’m work­ing on two books. Meta­phys­i­cal top­ics. Our life, of course, doesn’t always get well. We start to build some­thing, and all the end will be just the same – like in that joke, with “Kalash­nikov”. But oth­er peo­ple, who want to be hap­py, live now. They want to love. They know the joy of life. Many have seen the world. I’m writ­ing a book about love — men and women tell about love in it. And the sec­ond one is about age, dis­ap­pear­ance, about the end of life. What it all mat­ters and what it is. The cul­ture, espe­cial­ly the Russ­ian one, is more pre­pared for the sec­ond book. But for the book about hap­pi­ness… Every­one wants to be hap­py, but nobody knows what it is.

    — This week­end we have the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. Will you vote? And if yes, for whom?

    — I won’t vote. But if I did, I would have vot­ed for Tat­siana Karatke­vich. Because of women’s sol­i­dar­i­ty. Due to the fact that I see a nor­mal per­son, hear nor­mal speech­es, which I absolute­ly do not hear from male politi­cians. Nor­mal suits, nor­mal reac­tions, which male politi­cians lack. And just because of some hope. And the fact that “Karatke­vich is a “decoy duck”, accord­ing to Paz­ni­ak… I don’t believe it. I don’t know who is behind her, where she gets the mon­ey… But I know that it would be a new turn in our lives. I won’t vote, because me and you already know the win­ner. We know that Lukashen­ka will win. And per­haps he would have 76%. I think so. He will look into the pub­lic moods and esti­mate how much he could have.

    — You men­tioned Adamovich, Bykau… And what is the role of intel­li­gentsia, Belaru­sian under­ground in the soci­ety, how much is it form­ing, impor­tant, how essen­tial is it to have these moral author­i­ties?

    — I think our Mohi­cans died not in their due time. We miss Adamovich and Bykau very much, we miss their word, their under­stand­ing and their lev­el. I think they would not allow to them­selves some things that are now gen­er­al­ly allowed. We can­not afford such free­dom – to sit some­where, like my Ger­man col­leagues who go to the coun­try­side and write. We live in such imper­fect time, imper­fect soci­ety. I am not a man of bar­ri­cades, but I con­stant­ly feel bar­ri­cades-sick because of our time. Because it is a shame, it’s a shame for what’s going on.

    — Do you think that your voice will become weight­i­er in the Belaru­sian soci­ety?

    — Well, I don’t know, you see, we have such author­i­ties… I hope that they will be explained what the Nobel is, and maybe a some­what rel­e­vant reac­tion will fol­low, at least a care­ful one. The polit­i­cal elite is gen­er­al­ly Sovi­et-mind­ed. Or even worse. The Sovi­et elite had some bench­marks that were observed. There were some peo­ple who need­ed to climb long stairs to crawl up to the top. And today you are from rags to rich­es – and you are already a boss. Look who have been a Min­is­ter of Cul­ture – a builder, and some khabza­yets (note — a stu­dent of sec­ondary spe­cial­ized pro­fes­sion­al edu­ca­tion­al estab­lish­ment, usu­al­ly for blue-col­lar work), who­ev­er it was. I think you should do your own busi­ness and say what you think.

    — How would you eval­u­ate the fact that it has been the first Nobel Prize in lit­er­a­ture in Belarus?

    — It is hard to say. As for sci­en­tif­ic research, physics, chem­istry, it requires both high tech­no­log­i­cal lev­el and strong sci­en­tif­ic poten­tial. It seems to me that every­thing has been ruined here. We have a lot of tal­ent­ed peo­ple, and they have to either emi­grate or live their lives defi­cient­ly.

    — What do you think of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine and the Russ­ian air­base in Belarus?

    — I think we don’t need a Russ­ian air­base. But I fear we will have one. I don’t see that Lukashen­ka is strong enough or resource­ful to resist it. And I don’t see these resis­tance forces in the soci­ety. The soci­ety will accept any­thing the author­i­ties would offer, unfor­tu­nate­ly. As for Ukraine, I still con­sid­er it to be an occu­pa­tion, a for­eign inter­ven­tion. Although there are peo­ple, many of them, who were dis­sat­is­fied by what had been in Ukraine and had always longed for changes, but they would nev­er fight. They would find some oth­er way of changes. Bring us two dozen trucks, and you will always find peo­ple to arm. I hear it from a man, a fel­low trav­el­er from a train who made a nice impres­sion, an elder­ly Russ­ian lieu­tenant colonel. But he was so shocked when the Crimea was occu­pied, and said: “We also can shake the cob­webs, we’ve got also the gun and the pea-jack­et.” Here you are.

    — Are you going to vis­it Ukraine?

    — I’ve been there recent­ly. My granny died, and I have no more such close rel­a­tives.

    — In your view, are there any signs of changes in Belarus, a hope for changes, and what will be the direc­tion of their devel­op­ment?

    — Lukashen­ka is in a high­ly com­pli­cat­ed posi­tion now. He would like to loosen ties with Rus­sia. But who would allow? On the one hand, he is attached to his own past. On the oth­er hand, this is Putin who is hold­ing him. Say­ing about the past, I mean that he does not know any oth­er rules of the game. He’s grown up with it, although, one should admit, he has a strong polit­i­cal intu­ition.

    — Is the base being imposed on him?

    — Of course, the base is being imposed. I don’t think he wants it by him­self. There is a res­cue for Belarus to turn face to the EU. But nobody would let it go.

    — What would you tell the Nobel Com­mis­sion?

    — Well, I don’t know any­one of them. I can only say “thank you.”

    — When did you have the phone call?

    — A few min­utes before you found it out. I had just returned from the coun­try­side, and there it rang.

    — Where were you yes­ter­day, at dacha?

    — Yes.

    — Are you going to live in Belarus?

    — Yes.

    — What will you spend the award on?

    —I always buy free­dom for awards. It takes me very much time to write my books – five to ten years. It’s quite a long time when you need mon­ey, need to trav­el, to type. Now I can work freely with­out think­ing where to take the mon­ey.

    — Will your vic­to­ry influ­ence the atti­tude to the Belaru­sian cul­ture abroad, at the world lev­el?

    — It is dif­fi­cult for me to say, I think it takes more than one name. In any case, when I was in Aus­tria, I met some peo­ple ask­ing where I was from. And when I said I was from Belarus, they men­tion Dom­rache­va, Lukashen­ka. So, you see, they know already a lit­tle.

    — What Belarus would you like to live in?

    — I would cer­tain­ly want Belarus to resem­ble Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries… It is of course a dream for such a small coun­try like ours. Or, at least, to look like the Baltic.

    — You also received an award for your work about the Afghan War. Do you think that Putin risks repeat­ing the Afghan expe­ri­ence in Syr­ia now?

    — There was an anniver­sary of the Afghan War, and Putin was asked if it had been a mis­take. He answered no, it was right that we had been there. If not we, then it would have been the Amer­i­cans. I think so: after the Afghans, there were the Chechens, and now will be the Syr­i­ans. I met peo­ple who had fought in Africa in Sovi­et time. This is a coun­try of sol­diers, either famous or clan­des­tine ones. We are gen­er­al­ly liv­ing in mil­i­tary sur­round­ing and mil­i­tary think­ing. It is from top to bot­tom, from the gov­ern­ment to ordi­nary peo­ple.


    The book cov­er of Cher­nobyl Prayer

    — Does it refer to Belarus, Rus­sia, post-Sovi­et coun­tries?

    — Yes, I think we are still all tied in this knot.

    — Are you going to write in the Belaru­sian lan­guage?

    — I am often asked the ques­tion. What is the Belaru­sian lan­guage gen­uine­ly? I know Belaru­sian, but not so good as to write in it. And the lan­guage I know is narko­mov­ka (note — accept­ed lit­er­ary lan­guage, with a cer­tain rules of Gram­mar, type of vocab­u­lary, used by offi­cial mass media and in offi­cial doc­u­ments, for com­mon com­mu­ni­ca­tion). In my time, we stud­ied only this lan­guage. So for me it will nev­er be a goal in itself.

    — Where is it more com­fort­able for you to live and to write, in what coun­try? You lived in lots of places.

    — Well, per­haps, at home, in Belarus. At dacha.

    — Where were you when you got the phone call, and were told about the prize?

    — I was at home, iron­ing, by the way.

    — Haven’t you real­ly pub­lished your books in Belarus for twen­ty years? And isn’t there real­ly a sin­gle Belaru­sian lit­er­ary prize award­ed to you?

    — No.

    — You told that you any­way belong to the Belaru­sian world. What is it, the Belaru­sian world, in your opin­ion?

    — My father was Belaru­sian.  His gen­tle and placid eyes. He would nev­er say a bad word. He was a school head­mas­ter, then, in old­er age, a teacher. These were old women among whom I grew up. The vil­lagers. The voice. The poet­ry of their glances. And even when the Cher­nobyl hap­pened, I saw offi­cials, mil­i­taries and sci­en­tists at a loss, and only those old women, peas­ants, peo­ple close to nature, they found their points of sup­port. They had a mono­lith­ic under­stand­ing of what had hap­pened.  Although it was tough, because such peo­ple of nature suf­fered the most.

    — Will your vic­to­ry help pop­u­lar­ize Belaru­sian lit­er­a­ture in wide pub­lish­ing? Both in the world and here.

    — You know, it does not depend on that, it depends on the book. Imag­ine a book, it is pub­lished not because the coun­try is well-known. The Latin Amer­i­cans offered a new out­look, so the whole world pub­lished them. Ryszard Kapuś­cińs­ki offered his out­look, and he was pub­lished every­where. What­ev­er pub­lish­ing house I vis­it­ed – they were say­ing they were pub­lish­ing Ryszard Kapuś­cińs­ki. And the point is not about who is in the coun­try, the point is that we’ve got to come out to the world with some text. We had this text, the Cher­nobyl text, then this text of post-dic­ta­tor­ship, what is mutat­ing and how. But, unfor­tu­nate­ly these post-Sovi­et clichés don’t let set us free and give some new inter­pre­ta­tion to all this.

    — You are writ­ing about the fate of a small Sovi­et and post-Sovi­et man, do you agree that your prize belongs to Belarus?

    — Well, per­haps, it is wider, because pro­tag­o­nists of my books are all from the post-Sovi­et area. The War’s Unwom­an­ly Face… I remem­ber one Belaru­sian sci­en­tist telling me that I shouldn’t have tak­en Russ­ian women for heroes. I should have tak­en Belaru­sian women for this. But no, my book is broad­er in philo­soph­i­cal terms: a woman and a war, a per­son and a war. So, the scope is wider.

    — You were talk­ing about Kapuś­cińs­ki, has his cre­ativ­i­ty influ­enced you?

    — I was very inter­est­ed in his views when I first time read his book The Empire, I saw how curi­ous­ly he searched in the sphere of doc­u­men­tal writ­ing, which is my sphere, too. I liked the Pol­ish author Han­na Krall, she is work­ing inter­est­ing­ly in this sphere, and Kapuś­cińs­ki. And there is noth­ing of the kind in Belarus, although there is a book by Adamovich, Bryl and Kolesnik “I am from Fiery Vil­lage”. I con­sid­er it a genial book, but in Poland a doc­u­men­tal book is a whole lay­er of cul­ture. Because the Russ­ian and the Belaru­sian cul­tures, they a kind of didn’t let the world in, they a lit­tle bit tra­di­tion­al, self-suf­fi­cient, things in them­selves. And I opened up the world for me through such fig­ures as Han­na Krall and Kapuś­cińs­ki.

    — You said you would not vote at the elec­tions, as it does not make any sense. Do you think Belaru­sian cit­i­zens should fol­low your exam­ple?

    — One must not boy­cott elec­tions in any case. Because if you boy­cott, Lukashen­ka gets more chances.  Because if 800 peo­ple come to vote out of thou­sand, he will be able to draw a cer­tain num­ber of votes to him­self. But if only 500 peo­ple come to vote, the per­cent­age ris­es. It is a wrong behav­ior. I think the calls for boy­cott are the opposition’s mis­take. You can sim­ply cal­cu­late that if we boy­cott the elec­tions, we give Lukashen­ka a chance to raise the per­cent­age. It is very sim­ple. I am some­where dis­ap­point­ed by our oppo­si­tion, and by our peo­ple, if I may say so. Why don’t we wake up? And when? I think it is a long way.

    — When was your book last time pub­lished in Belarus? Do you remem­ber it?

    — Around 25 years ago…

    — But the last book pub­lished, The Time Sec­ond Hand?

    — Oh, yes, but this is a kind of half-under­ground book, non-state.

    — And what state pub­lish­ing hous­es pub­lished your books, and what books?

    — It seems, some small pub­lish­ing house pub­lished The Zink Boys… It was the pub­lish­ing house “Belarus”. But it was also a small pub­lish­ing house, and it was a per­son­al deed of the edi­tor.

    — Now the whole world and the whole Belarus are lis­ten­ing to you.  If you have to tell some­thing to the Belaru­sians in one sen­tence, what would it be?

    — Let’s try to live in a coun­try of worth. Every­one has to do some­thing for it.  One should not wait for the neigh­bor, the son, the grand­son to do it, every­one should. Oth­er­wise, being all on one’s own, it is easy to black­mail, to threat­en, to deal with us. Let’s go togeth­er, but at the same time I am against a rev­o­lu­tion. I don’t like blood. I don’t want even a sin­gle life of a young guy to be lost here. I con­sid­er we’ve got to find our Belaru­sain Gan­dism. If we are togeth­er, we will find it cer­tain­ly.

    — There are now many wars in the world, don’t you feel, as a writer, some dis­ap­point­ment that books a kind of don’t teach peo­ple any­thing? Is rap­proche­ment for the East and the West pos­si­ble, not a new cold war, but a com­mon world, nei­ther Russ­ian, nor West­ern?

    — There are not only books in the world, Tol­stoy or some­body else, there is also the Bible, and Fran­cis of Assisi, and Antho­ny of Sourozh was stand­ing on the stone for so many days, all those reli­gious mar­tyrs… But, a man does not change. Still, I’d like to think that some­thing is chang­ing, though the events in Donet­sk and Odessa fright­ened me per­son­al­ly: how fast cul­ture comes off and the beast steps out from a man. So, I think if we give up doing our job, it can be worse. How the Apos­tle Paul said — woe be to me if I should not preach the Gospel. As for the anti-West move­ment, espe­cial­ly the one in Rus­sia, I think it will come to nil.  It will be gone togeth­er with today’s lead­ers. There is no such hatred in the peo­ple. There is no hatred to the West or to Europe either in Rus­sians or in Belaru­sians. These are bub­bles cre­at­ed by politi­cians. And there will always be young guys will­ing to play some game. So, it is not deep, but not the only one, so we will live in such a tran­si­to­ry time for quite long. We were too naïve in the 90ies, we thought we could become free at once. No, it is impos­si­ble, as it turned out. It looked to every­one, that peo­ple will read Solzhen­it­syn, and will become pure, but peo­ple killed every day some­one at home entrances. I think that the heav­i­est her­itage of the social­ism is a man, a trau­ma­tized man because a camp per­verts both the hang­man and the vic­tim.

    — And how do you start writ­ing? Tell how the process looks.

    — It is a big ques­tion. It is a long talk.

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