Сolonialism behind the facade of the “great Russian culture”

There is no doubt that national culture cannot be outside politics and state life. It, in fact, is a reflection of the political, its perception. Culture “packs” the political in meanings, ideas, narratives.

Russian culture proves time and time again that art does not exist outside of politics. Moreover, in the case of modern Russian imperialism, culture is one of the tools to establish hegemony through soft power. That is why we see that by occupying certain territories of Ukraine, Russia immediately begins the process of cultural expansion, introducing the Russian language of instruction in educational institutions, changing signs, and restoring Lenin’s monuments in cities. This, in fact, is the imposition of a new value framework, meanings, and hence identity.

In mid-January, German Foreign Minister Annalena Beerbok wrote in a Facebook post that Russia was more than a critique of its political elite: a nation of rich culture, the countries of Dmitry Shostakovich, Anna Netrebko and Leo Tolstoy. Art is able to reflect on our time and give it a voice. It creates a space for exchange and mutual understanding. This creates an opportunity for diversity, meeting and reconciliation. “The desire to see in Russia a great cultural people, the people of Pushkin and Dostoevsky, is deeply rooted in the West and has its reasons,” – says researcher Radomir Mokryk. The illusion of “real Russia”, which looks like a living room in the Turbins’ house from Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel, and of Russians as delicate and sensitive as the heroes of Leo Tolstoy’s novels, is collapsing before our eyes. Russia is waging another aggressive war against Ukraine. “It’s more like permanent terrorism and mass killings of civilians. Yes, Vladimir Putin is leading this aggression, but he is not leading it with his own hands. Thousands and millions of Russians are behind him,” – Mokryk continued. And culture continues to be an instrument of “cultural camouflage” that allows the Western world to still divide Russia’s political system and national culture.

So why is Russian culture contributing to the establishment of Russian imperialism and colonialism, and what is the true face of “Great Russian Culture”? Let’s find out in Ukraine in Flames #63.

UKRAINE IN FLAMES project is created by Ukraine Crisis Media CenterUkrainian Catholic University’s analitical center and NGO “Euroatlantic Course”.  We are aiming at searching a loud support for Ukraine in the war started by Russia on the 24th of February 2022.

If you want to support Ukraine against Russian aggression, check the link with recommendations by Ukraine Crisis Media Center – https://uacrisis.org/en/help-ukraine.

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