Posted 22 января 2021,, 07:44

Published 22 января 2021,, 07:44

Modified 25 декабря 2022,, 20:55

Updated 25 декабря 2022,, 20:55

How to stop the flywheel of Russian repressions

22 января 2021, 07:44
Алина Витухновская
In the Russian space, the prison occupies a special place along with the church and the cemetery. It is a repository of the meanings. For many who got there, it becomes a place where people begin to read a lot and seriously for the first time and then reflect on the existential foundations of being.

Alina Vitukhnovskaya, writer

Today, in connection with the intensified systemic repressions, this topic is becoming more and more relevant. Every time, looking at another person involved in political reprisals, I remember my process. Here's what I wrote then, back in 1996:

“The case was somehow fabricated, apparently only because they (FSK-FSB) are 100% sure of the effectiveness of their methods. The case existed only as a method of pressure and intimidation. They were confident that I would become their informant. And then I'll go home. But I stayed in jail. For a whole year. Because she didn't. Not out of principle, not out of courage. I just wouldn't turn my tongue.

I was outraged: who do they think I am? I always said that the world is a sophisticated concentration camp. Only now the sophistication has disappeared, and the concentration camp remains. I am sitting in a cell with 40 people for 20 seats. They shout at each other all the time. I am not sleeping. I am not eating. The parents do not send me the care package, because for two weeks they are not allowed to find out where I am. Local food causes negative emotions, which are much stronger than the hunger. Mice and cockroaches crawl over sleeping people. A rat's tail is found in the soup. People took it out and continue to eat. I turn away. If there would be where to turn away!.. At night shouts are heard: “I feel bad! I'm dying!". “If you die, we’ll write you off”, - the attendant answers. There are doctors here. But they are either incompetent or dishonest. One out of two. Constant surveillance. Searches. Batons. Which they beat us with. One woman says she feels like a corpse being dragged somewhere for some reason. "Do you still feel anything?" - the other is perplexed. Many are sure that they are unlikely to be released as mentally healthy people.

When I first went into the camera, I got the impression that a film was being shot there. Either a madhouse, or a colony of the twenties. Several distant, insane faces caught my eye. But this was not the kind of madness in which the familiarity of the known pathologies is adorable. It was a very specific madness, terrible and simple, madness acquired here.

The UN Special Rapporteur, who visited the Butyrka prison, called the conditions of detention not only degrading human dignity, but also real torture.

I wrote about it. But I will repeat myself. And I will repeat it until everyone understands. I am shocked by what I see. I am not surprised at inhuman conditions, bullying by staff, cynical and senseless violence by the authorities. I'm used to being horrified, but I never get used to people who don't resist. To people who learn orders with such a predisposition that it seems that they simply need them from the beginning. All forms, all shades of human character and sensitivity have only one thing in their essence - a pathological inclination towards slavery. She is the main and ideal control system. If you squeeze a slave out of a person drop by drop, then nothing will remain".

Remembering the nineties, many wrote that they associate this time with me and my loud trial. Constant press conferences, stories in the media, public disgrace of the FSK-FSB. And I caught myself on the paradoxical thought that nothing better and more interesting had happened to me. I wanted to be a hero - I became. I wanted fame - I got it. I wanted to know everything about the "depths" of Russian metaphysics - please, here they are!

Surprisingly, Russia cannot offer a character like me, anything more significant. Only a prison. Let and as a conceptual action that I made out of my process. The repressive homeland, alas, contains nothing, does not want to share anything. She only selects, like that “killing mother”, the homeland-death.

The endless red wheel of Russian life, endless arrests and persecutions, torture and executions are looped in the repressive consciousness of the sacrificial majority, which feeds the repressive mechanisms on its own head. In order for them to stop working, it is necessary to deprive them of this recharge, to stop feeling like victims. This is what Brodsky wrote about. And that's why he became both a hero and a Nobel laureate. Precisely not thanks to, but in spite of the Russian suffocating space.

The executioner and the victim are two hypostases connected by one existential umbilical cord. Sometimes they turn into a single being, merge to the point of confusion, frenziedly disfiguring themselves and others. Only a genius (Brodsky) could afford not to fit into this construct, for it ontologically does not coincide with it. All the rest need to make an effort over themselves in order to overcome the vicious inertia of Russian life. Otherwise, everything will forever be as in this poem:

YOU ARE THE CONVOIR (From the collection "Postmodern post-poems")

People confuse the abyss

With a prison peephole

No, I won't disappear completely.

The district committee will accept me.

Reich's metaphysics.

Khokhloma district.

Rip your shirt further,

Yes, let the coachman go.

The local golems are molded

In those district committees tame.

Their language is babble

Flowing through them

Forming meanings

Like Kant is anti-thought.

And how in the Windows hangs

The Being, this pseudo-life.

And samsaric agility

They gain later

For they confuse the abyss

With a prison peephole.

If Pseudo-you would have a long look

in a pseudo world,

You would have known that under arrest

You are here yourself - the convoir.

Has anything changed in the state's repressive machine? I think it has changed towards harsher and more unfair forms.

In the 20th of December last year, based on the testimony of Martsinkevich ("Tesak"), most likely obtained under torture, six people were detained on charges of murder in the early 2000s, including my old friend Maksim Khotulyov.

I have known Maxim for over eighteen years, I know him very well. He is a sane, balanced, responsive and decent man of liberal views, for whom I can vouch.

I do not know if other detainees were involved in the acts incriminated to them, but I am sure that Maxim Khotulyov did not take part in any murders and judge the person for communicating, perhaps, with the wrong people and had views that do not always coincide with state - it is unfair and illegal, otherwise many of us may find ourselves in a similar situation.