Essence of Time. Chapter 23


(Links to previous Chapters are available here: Volume IVolume II, and Chapter 21, 22)

July 5, 2011.

The great twentieth-century German playwright Bertolt Brecht had a play titled “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” [Here and thereafter “Caucasian” refers exclusively to the inhabitants of the Caucasus mountains. The Russian language does not utilize the word “Caucasian” as a generic term for white people – translator’s note]. It depicts an ancient Chinese legend in a contemporary style. The essence of the legend is that there is a child. There is a woman who has become his mother, who raises him and loves him terribly – Grusha Vachnadze, if my memory serves me correctly (everything takes place in some Georgian village). And there is a princess, who once abandoned this child, and now wants to take possession of the child and screams that she is his true mother.

In short, there is a mother – a woman who really loves her child and is ready to do anything for him, who brought him up, raised him, and nursed him. And there is a pseudo-mother, who suddenly appears on the stage and demands that the child be given to her, that she is in her right. And the judge has to decide which of these two mothers is the real one.

This judge, who does not want to dig into formalities and realizes that by means of these formalities he will sooner destroy the truth than find it, proposes a simple physical action that is somewhat akin to God’s judgment. He orders a chalk circle to be drawn on the ground (the play is titled “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”) and the child to be placed in the middle of the circle. And he tells the women: “Take the child by the hands, one on the left and one on the right. The real mother will be strong enough to drag him to her side.” The mothers take the child by the hands. But this Grusha Vachnadze lets go of the child’s hand and gives him to the hated pseudo-mother. She says: “I nursed him! Do I have to tear him to pieces? I can’t!” And then the judge, unmoved by the winner’s indignation, gives the child to the loser Grusha Vachnadze, “So, the court has established who the real mother is. Take the child and go with him.”

What is the relevance of this parable to our current politics, to what we all live in, what permeates our air, what we feel more acutely every day with all our receptors, analytical and otherwise? The parable suggests that any struggle makes sense as long as the country is not torn apart. Because if it is torn apart again, or even a piece of it is torn away, then any struggle is meaningless: it becomes a struggle with no object. You can fight to change the situation in the country and modify its course. But if there is no country, there is no object and nothing to fight for.

That is why we do everything we do with an eye to the threats, both foreign, including those that aim to infringe on our territorial integrity, and domestic. Because very often the forces that want to violate this integrity are either under foreign patronage, but pretend to be quite autonomous, or they are really autonomous, but, I beg your pardon, they are evil; there are different ways of doing this.

So, on the one hand, we understand that the reality is monstrous, that the processes work towards degradation. Every day, every hour, we feel that reality continues to collapse. We are witnessing disgusting, inexplicable actions: the privatization of a huge number of enterprises… well, why even list all that is happening now in education, defense, and elsewhere? It is all incompatible with life for our country. We see all of this.

On the other hand, in a sense, we have to defend a certain framework of conditions. And therein lies the tragic antinomy of our politics, as Kant would say. Our philosophers of the so-called Silver Age claimed that these antinomies tear Russia apart like no other country in the world. But one has to realize that contradictions are a driving force. And maybe somewhere inside this monstrous, irreconcilable contradiction that shapes our political life there is a mechanism that makes it possible to move somewhere.

One might ponder, why prolong the state of this country, which is practically decaying and becoming more and more monstrous? Why should it be prolonged, what good is it, if this country is becoming a coffin for its population, a concentration camp?

The answer is this: a woman may be endowed with all the most hideous qualities, she is sick, she is decaying, but she is pregnant. And the chief task is for her to give birth to a child. If she dies now, in this disgusting and horrible state of hers, there will be no child. But if she gives birth, she will probably die afterwards, but that child will be born. And the child may not be terrible at all, but magnificent. That is the essence of history.

The Great Expectant Mother is the symbol of the historical process as such. Our entire hope is in history, as always. As always in Russian history… Something reaches the point of insanity. But inside this insanity, something completely different is already maturing. And this “something completely different” is born before the insanity kills everything off. Or at the moment when the insanity has killed it all off. But nevertheless, it emerges in a viable form, and our history moves on… Therefore, maybe this antinomy can be overcome in this symbol… On the one hand, everything is so repulsive; but on the other hand, we have to not just keep it up or watch it go on, we sometimes even have to defend it.

These thoughts once again came to me as I watched the United States prepare new repressive laws against us, based on the premise that they will determine who here is corrupt, who is a bad person, and how they should punish him… [In reference to initiatives by a group of European and American politicians to impose sanctions against a number of Russian officials allegedly involved in the prosecution of the attorney Sergey Magnitsky]. Meanwhile, our side was trying to defend against these initiatives with their own set of regulatory measures and laws in order to punish the Americans and everyone else, so that they would not dare to interfere into our affairs [Duma member Maksim Mishchenko from United Russia proposed a bill to impose sanctions on foreign officials who violate the rights of Russians. For example, with regard to persons subjecting Russians to unfounded criminal prosecution].

I know there are people who will say, “Let the Americans punish those thieving bastards! If anyone wants to punish them, that’s fine with me! It doesn’t matter to us who it is. If it’s the Americans, great.” But, first of all, the Americans have always professed the well-known principle: “He’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” They will not punish the ones who stole the most or who are the bigger bastards. They will punish according to an entirely different principle: they will punish those who resist them. And since their ultimate task now is certainly to destroy our country, they will use this law to do just that. That and nothing else.

If the Americans want to, they will place perfectly decent people into the category of “horrible thieves.” And on the contrary, if they want to, they’ll call the most disgusting thieves “advocates for democracy”, freedom, etc., just like they already labeled Al-Qaeda in Libya or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in that way. But there’s more where that came from… Mullah Omar too will soon become a beacon of freedom…

So we should not have any illusions here. And of course, we should answer the Americans, because if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll ask for a glass of milk: today they’ll pass a law against the elite, but tomorrow they will concoct some other law that will affect a much wider range of people. All of this together is a way to entice our elite to commit the ultimate betrayal. And the ultimate betrayal, if all the other political forces are weak, will be irreversible.

So some kind of fight on this front is necessary. Better that our elite actors snap back (at least when their interests are affected) than they bend over and do the Americans’ bidding. Because the Americans’ bidding will not be for them, as the bad boys, to go away and leave the country to the good boys. They just want to make sure our country ceases to exist.

Why do the Americans want this so bad now? I remember, in 1991 (I know what I’m talking about, I swear) the Americans were terribly afraid that Russia would fall apart after the Soviet Union. Most were afraid… Let’s say Brzezinski and Cheney were not afraid, but Ermarth, Rice, Baker, Mroz, and many others whom I remember well from political life at the time were afraid. Baker feared this the most, apparently. And he traveled across the Union republics, especially Ukraine, with a facial expression resembling that of the Secretaries of the Central Committee. That is, with that kind of frightened bewilderment. And he would tell various leaders, especially Ukrainian leader Leonid Kravchuk: “Lenny, Lenny, give the missiles to the Russians, or you’ re no friend of mine!” And Lenny gave the missiles back. It turned out that way because the Americans did not want several major nuclear powers to appear. But at the same time they did not want Russia to be “accidentally snatched up” by China, which they feared even then. Although at that time, it would seem that there wasn’t much to be afraid of.

Years have passed. And now it is clear to me that the Americans are trying to bring Russia down. Of course, we can take the classic patriotic approach and say, “They are evil-doers. They were evil-doers back then and they remain so now. That is why they want to bring us down. Just like they wanted to then.” But that’s not quite true. Something new has happened. And, overall, it is clear what it is.

The Americans don’t think our country is viable. They understand that everything is going downhill. On a slightly flatter curve, but downhill. And they understand that the flatness of this curve, its shallowness, the smoothness of this decline gives the Chinese an advantage. It allows China to, slowly but surely, seize power in Eurasia, to strengthen its positions, especially in Siberia and the Far East, and then to become a virtually invincible player that cannot be eliminated from the field, and which would be capable of taking the main prize of the 21st century, and which would strive to take this prize.

The Americans are terrified of this, and they believe that if this “smooth” process is simply aborted and brought to a total collapse, then maybe they could grab something here before the Chinese do. It seems to me that this model, from a practical point of view, is the most plausible.

In any case, if our elite snaps back, be it geopolitically and personally (when they are told: “Your kind isn’t welcome here in the West…”, and they start snarling: “You son of bitch! Who isn’t welcome? Do you know who you’re talking to? A great power…”), it’s better than if it bends over. That’s why no matter how imperfect the laws are, according to which if they suddenly prosecute certain citizens of ours (read: VIPs or super-VIPs), then in response we’ll inflict some kind of legal pain on them, we should support them. It is so. With one very essential caveat: it’s too little and too late.

Perhaps part of our elite understands that the Americans naturally want to send them to jail and rob them, in accordance with the list that will now replace the Jackson-Vanik amendment – the list of “bad boys,” which will include everyone who has not paid them off or who is not working to bring Russia down. If this is true (and it is), then we should consider a large set of processes, a litany of minor symptoms that, maybe, do not deserve to be discussed here… If, for example, Michael McFaul becomes the new US ambassador to Russia, then the liberal escalation will intensify: the forces will assemble, get a second wind and start working more seriously towards the collapse of Russia. Especially since McFaul’s main area of interest is organizing this kind of revolution… If McFaul comes here, if the list of “bad boys” goes into effect, and if the elite does not snap back, then everything will collapse even faster. No healthy forces will have time to assemble, there will be no time for the sick mother to give birth to a healthy child, so to speak. And the collapse may bury everything under its debris. Including everything we’re doing.

But if the Americans want to compile this list, the question is not what kind of retaliatory measures the Russian authorities will take against them. It is not a question of how exactly this government will expel someone from Russia or infringe on someone’s fortune. If the Americans see this, they will double down, and they will keep at it.

Therefore, the conclusions are as follows.

First. The folks who hear me and who understand that the Americans are naturally going to imprison and rob you… Guys, get your money into the country – quickly, by any means! Over here to Russia. It’s not a question of how you can cause problems for American money in Russia. It’s about making sure you have nothing there that they can grab you by, so move your money, at least a quarter trillion dollars, here. Quickly.

Then we have to figure out what to do with it. But first it needs to come here, and the American money, if necessary, can leave. That will be the first phase.

Next, since this will only awaken aggression (and by money I, of course, mean both the Stabilization Fund and private capital), we need to be prepared to take a number of additional steps, calmly, without taking matters to extremes. Not to arrest someone’s investments in Sberbank, which are almost non-existent, but to withdraw from the missile defense treaty, regroup the forces, stop fooling around with the military, restore what can still be restored, and rebuild what has been destroyed. Change the military doctrine, change the political system, and stop the theft.

The state, my friends, is a pretty simple thing. It’s like stone soup. You know. A soldier promised an old lady he’d make soup from a stone, so he put the stone in, and said, “Okay, now add a little barley, a little meat…” And the soup turned out fine.

The state is the same. First you bring the money back, and next you have to hide it here. Then it turns out that this means you have to build a state here. And the state, at the very least, needs a strong army. And a strong army means a healthy soldier. He can’t be a weakling; he needs to be a healthy guy, who can operate complex machinery. That means you have to make plenty of other changes: he must be educated, he must have teachers, everyone has to get paid, you need a military-industrial complex, and so on. And then you need everything else. You need to restore life’s normal social logic.


Effects of Good Government in the City by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, 1338-1339.


Then it turns out, little by little… As the great Anna Akhmatova wrote: “I wish you knew the kind of garbage heap wild verses grow on, paying shame no heed.” Well, from this garbage heap of the money brought over here we can create a very imperfect reality that, in my view, would not solve any major issues, but would nevertheless be a reality. Because what we have now is an anti-reality, it’s insanity. And so, little by little, some kind of reality can emerge.

As soon as we see that people need to be paid differently and that we need to change the wages, social hierarchies, and priorities, it will turn out that we have only one experience – the Soviet experience. And that we have to use it in the right way. In order to do this, we don’t need to recreate all the traits of the Soviet Union from 1933, 1935, or 1948. That is not the point. There is always a range of professions, in relation to which the communist model has to apply: the doctors, the teachers, and a number of others must always live under communism. The question is who else can we permit to live under communism under the present conditions.

Some people have to… If a teacher or a doctor works for the market, then he is no longer a teacher or a doctor, but something completely different. The same thing, as you understand, applies to a scientist… So, there must be a nationalized core of super-large industries with fairly strict management methods, from which corruption must be shaken out completely (I will not describe it in detail here, but everyone understands how such things are done) and the periphery. A market periphery, which must be freed from taxes. Otherwise, a vast number of resentful people who have tasted today’s sweet life will simply smash the system before it manages to mobilize. So they should be exempted from most taxes, and the entire tax burden should be shifted to the core.

And if you need any major concessions, including for the money brought back into the country, then you are welcome: there are new and undeveloped areas, like Eastern Siberia and plenty of other things. Go forth and sing! We need to give guarantees that this will all be protected. A kind of “Chinese model” will emerge, but in what direction it will evolve is another question. I can’t say that I dream of this model. I know that it is better than what we have now. What we have now is incompatible with life, and this model is compatible to a certain extent. Although it’s not excellent, it’s not top notch. One can dream only of something else. But this is an acceptable reality. We can keep the Mother alive, stabilize her illnesses, and partially cure them.

The question will arise as to what kind of ideology is needed, but all this will come later, when the part of the ruling class that our foreign friends naturally want to put behind bars and rob, or even kill, will acquire a healthy instinct for self-preservation. This is very important. In this sense, I can say in the words of Pushkin: “It’s time, my friend, it’s time.” It is necessary to understand what is happening, and not to think that you can get away with palliative measures.

Palliatives are better than nothing. If you don’t have the guts to say something other than, “In response to the ‘blacklists’ that the Americans are making, we will make our own list,” then of course this is something… But if you can’t bring your money back to your homeland, then why bang your fist?

Am I wrong? I am speaking in a friendly way, from the position of kindness and the desire to preserve the country, the desire to prolong the period of all the current palliatives, so that something new can take shape. It is always disgusting to encourage catastrophe, especially in our situation. We have to do everything in our power to overcome it. But nothing else can be done.

This concerns the disgusting actions of the Americans compiling “blacklists” here as they did with Mubarak, Gaddafi and others. They have begun these actions, and believe me, they will not turn away, they will continue on this course.

Now a few words about other challenges. I am referring to the Budanov case, which I began discussing in the last program, and which I propose we discuss very carefully in the future. In questions like this, only caution, tact, and calmness are the right means to even discuss what we already have. All the more so with regards to setting things right. The question is not to pontificate about it. It is a question of thinking with others and offering others some factor for reflection.

I’ll make a charitable assumption. I want to believe (and, unlike Lermontov, who wrote: “I’m to believe, but with some fear, For I haven’t tried it all before“, I really want to believe) that the people who have become concerned about possible “hit jobs” of the veterans by Chechens – first by Chechen investigators and then by Chechen paramilitary units that resemble the “death squads” – are really worried for the veterans.

I know that Yevgeny Kirichenko, the journalist who started this campaign, a very authoritative journalist from NTV, back when the oligarch Gusinsky owned it, at some point had nevertheless refused to smear the Russian troops with the kind of fervor that was characteristic of other NTV journalists, and stood up for them, instead. Including for Budanov. I know all this. And I urge everyone to be very careful in their assessments and always proceed from the imperative of goodwill. That if a journalist writes something, he just wants to tell the truth about the events. That if someone sounds the alarm, he really means to do so.

Let’s take a look at the specific list of publications that suddenly stood up for Budanov and the Russian soldiers who fought in Chechnya. Let us look calmly and with open eyes at this list of publications…

Svobodnaya Pressa, a rather liberal publication, acted twice as the original source. Gazeta echoed its position. And so did Echo of Moscow and I read this about “Today, and its affiliates remain part of Vladimir Gusinsky’s media center, which also includes the international broadcasting company RTVi”… I don’t even want to say that Mr. Kirichenko was once part of Gusinsky’s empire, while is now part of Gusinsky’s empire. What does it matter who was once part of whose empire? That’s not the question. I’m just listing: Gazeta, Echo of Moscow, and… Moskovsky Komsomolets, Svobodnaya Pressa again, which sets new overtones to everything that is happening (it’s acting like a trigger generator)… Next, Komsomolskaya Pravda and Krasnaya Zvezda try to fight back, however sluggishly… Next takes the offensive again… Groznensky Rabochiy snaps back… Next comes again. And then Ren TV.

When I say that I want to assume an imperative of good intentions on the part of those who are doing this, I am not sneering. It is not a figure of speech. I really want to assume this. I only want to stress that the publications who are now glorifying Budanov and defending the Russian soldiers who carried out the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya are the same publications and forces that previously called Budanov a “ghoul,” a “murderer,” a “scoundrel,” a “scumbag”, and demanded that he be crucified, quartered (of course, I speak figuratively), demanding the highest possible punishment for him. Am I wrong? Isn’t this what our liberals demanded for Budanov? Am I mistaken? Isn’t this the truth that is obvious to everyone? This is the first thing.

And second. These are the forces who called the Russian troops who carried out the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya death squads, villains, scoundrels, and bloodsuckers. Maybe I have played it up a little by necessity (I cannot describe it all now in detail and consider all the nuances). But in general, that is just the way it is. It is a fact. Here’s my digest – I’ve taken the trouble to write it all down: who was behind whom, when, and what they said. And then I tell you, “This is the list. Notice a poignant detail: as soon as Svobodnaya Pressa starts promoting this story, The Movement Against Illegal Immigration immediately takes over the story.” [The Movement Against Illegal Immigration is a xenophobic pseudonationalist organization that is currently banned in Russia. The organization worked to fan hatred against Russian ethnic minorities and promoted the idea of separating the Northern Caucasus, including Chechnya, from the rest of Russia. It thus falls under the category of “shrinking nationalists” that the author previously described. – translator’s note]. That’s how these forces throw the ball around amongst themselves.

This is my observation. I don’t intend to substitute myself for all of civil society on this issue. I just want to think together with others. And I hope that others will help me think with information and in many other ways, because the problem is really complex. It’s very complex, do you see? That’s a fact.

Here is another fact. Svobodnaya Pressa reports that Colonel Budanov, after his release from prison on parole, carefully concealed his place of residence. However, the killer managed to track him down. []

Again, I want to stay with the facts. I don’t want to draw any final conclusions. I won’t etch anything in stone. These are sketches, or “points of certainty.” I’m not the one making it up. I’m not the one fabricating anyone’s case. I am only listing the facts that each of you can verify. And facts are stubborn things. After listing these facts and marking one point of certainty, I’ll mark the next one.

So, it is alleged that after his release from prison on parole, Budanov carefully concealed where he lived. How exactly did the killer track him down? That means someone must have ratted out… Who ratted him out?

I just wanted to know, apropos, where Budanov was living. I wanted to find out for myself, I didn’t send any detectives to find out. I didn’t run to any government agencies asking for top-secret information… I started reading the press. I have always believed that basic analytical judgments can be made on the basis of open information, if you read it carefully and think about it for real, without cutting yourself any slack.

So here is what I read. You’ll probably find this interesting… published this on June 16, 2011 []. The article is titled “Why was Budanov given an apartment?” It was written by Zakhar Tykvin. May what Zakhar Tykvin writes be on Zakhar’s conscience, but it seems to me that he is not mistaken and that we only have to check what he says. Because what he says is rather interesting. In any case, Zakhar Tykvin is saying this, not Sergey Kurginyan. I’m reading I am not drawing conclusions, I’m not extracting anything from secret sources, I am only reporting the facts to people who can and want to think. And I hope that such people are in the majority, because the issue really is serious.

So this is what Zakhar Tykvin writes:

“ managed to establish the last place of residence of the murdered colonel. It turned out that right after his release Budanov was given an apartment (Got it? Right after his release from prison… this is not some safe house that he obtained during the prior week – in other words, Budanov lived there ever since his release from prison. – SK) in an elite building in Moscow, where his neighbors were President Medvedev and Internal Affairs Minister Rashid Nurgaliev, among others.

 The address of this “special” building is № 4 Tikhvinskaya Street. Beautiful red brick, air conditioning and satellite dishes. The area around the building is fenced. There is a security booth at the gate, and outsiders can enter only “with the tenants’ permission.”

 The tenants are all VIPs. Apartment No. 35 is listed under Dmitry Medvedev, the president of the Russian Federation. No. 29 belongs to Minister of Internal Affairs Rashid Nurgaliyev. Among the building’s other tenants are: former Minister of Information Technology and Communications Leonid Reiman, former deputy head of the Presidential Administration Igor Shabdurasulov, and other no less interesting personalities, including an entire cohort of Supreme and Constitutional Court justices and the president’s staff psychoanalyst Alla Radchenko.

 Questions immediately arise: for what merits did the demoted officer who strangled a Chechen girl (I leave the assessment on Zakhar Tykvin’s conscience. – SK) receive the apartment, and who paid for it? The most modest flat in the building costs about one million euros. Was he the only Russian officer who needed his own apartment?

 Or maybe it was some kind of compensation for the inconvenience of incarceration?

 Be it as it may, on the afternoon of June 10, Yuri Budanov was shot dead.”

He goes on to describe where the funeral took place.

What does this imply? That the Svobonaya Pressa report is not entirely accurate, if Zakhar Tykvin is right. Because Budanov did not go between safe houses, hiding in such a way that he had to be tracked down. Budanov was living in a VIP building, all the tenants of which, at the very least, knew that he was living there. And everyone understands perfectly well that the possibility of living in this building depends not only on the availability of the million euros that Zakhar Tykvin cares so much about, and about which I personally have no concern. (I do not care where the money came from. It came from somewhere? – Thank God!) That kind of opportunity depends on the fact that the person was allowed to live there. He went through all the necessary procedures to join this VIP housing group. And if a person wants to hide, he will not live in this VIP residence; instead, he would rent some hut on the outskirts. And he would change these huts periodically.

So no one was hiding. I emphasize, no one was hiding. I’m not going to extract anything from this, I just want to acquaint you with this fact – anyone who wants to check should read It may turn out that this is not the case. But it somehow seems to me that it is correct. And it was written on June 16.

You can also review in detail who exactly and in what sequence drummed up this information campaign – probably with very good intentions (on this point, I want to be extremely careful – as careful as I can be).

Truth Leaving the Well by Edouard Debat-Ponsan, 1898.

One might also wonder why, Echo of Moscow, etc. got so excited all of a sudden over Budanov. And why, I say again, all of our liberals, who had been disgusted with Budanov, who had found the Russian soldiers even more disgusting, suddenly became so concerned with Budanov’s fate and with how awful the Chechens are. Paradoxical, isn’t it?

Where the paradoxes are is where the analysis begins.

Now one more fact. I have carefully studied the documents that were recently made public to the media – documents sent by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, the Main Military Investigative Directorate, the Military Investigative Directorate for the Southern Military District, and others to the Defense Ministry Archives, so that the archives would release classified information [Shortly after Budanov was killed, there was information in the media that the Chechen investigative bodies were sending out requests to various Russian agencies about the Russian servicemen who served in the Chechen campaign. At the same time, information was circulated that these requests were not for investigative purposes, but were made by Chechens seeking revenge against Russian servicemen. Subsequently, reports emerged that this information may have been planted for provocative purposes.]

How did these documents become public? In particular, it is reported that a resident of Podolsk, living on № 74 Kalinin Street, repeatedly received by mistake requests sent by the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Chechen Republic to the Defense Ministry Archive, which is located in Podolsk at № 74 Kirov Street. Scanned copies of documents are presented as evidence… The Svobodnaya Pressa website has copies of documents sent both to Kalinin street and to Kirov street… I look at them and remember that, according to regulations, all requests containing secret information are written on a numbered form and have a stamp. Here there is no stamp. Perhaps, things have gotten so negligent these days that it is possible to write a request for classified information on paper without a stamp. I am cautious in my judgments, and I do not want to get ahead of myself. It may be like that. But there is a question.

Just as there is a question as to why information constituting state secrets should be transmitted by fax. “Please fax to the following numbers…” And the numbers are provided. Now that is simplicity beyond all shame. I’m not yelling, “Ah, gotcha!” I may be taking the wrong track, but I’m marking it down just in case. I’m marking it down like everything else. And it forms a kind of dotted line, doesn’t it?

Evgeny Kirichenko tells a story about how he arranged a meeting with Budanov, who had just been released from prison, on January 18, 2009. But Budanov did not come to the meeting, and on January 19, the attorney Markelov, who represented the interests of Elza Kungaeva’s family in Budanov’s trial, was killed. The murder took place two steps away from the place where the meeting that Budanov did not attend was supposed to happen. So, says Kirichenko, “someone warned him” []. As my grandmother used to say in such cases, “Could you continue in greater detail?”

In stating this, what exactly is Mr. Kirichenko saying? I am simply posing a question. It seems to me that you have to be quite detailed in such matters…

I for one, do not understand why, by virtue of what mysterious circumstances, things would have been completely different if Budanov had met with Kirichenko. And I don’t understand why, if Budanov had come to this meeting, it would have been so bad for him. I just don’t understand. If Kirichenko understands, then let him explain. While he’s at it, he can say who warned Budanov. Not who personally, but who? Because he is saying a rather scary thing: people knew about Markelov’s murder, and they warned Budanov not to go to the meeting, but they did not prevent the murder. That’s what he’s saying. What does he mean by that?

It’s a rather unpleasant story. But in addition to this analytical layer, there is another layer.

Anti-Caucasian sentiments are growing for objective reasons, including those related to the behavior of the North Caucasus elite and the overall situation in the country. Anti-Caucasian sentiments are growing. Caucasian opposition to these sentiments is also growing. The tension between these two poles is growing. Whether it will discharge on its own… Or a third force will push it over the edge… Or one of the sides loses its nerve… What difference does it make? The tension is building up! Will it explode in three months or six months? If the authorities do nothing (and here I completely agree with everyone who says that in this situation the authorities are criminally inactive, they are losing the initiative), it will definitely blow up, and we will all be in for it! Recall the child and the two women – the real mother and the pseudo-mother from the “Caucasian Chalk Circle”. A Caucasian one, incidentally… North Caucasian in our case…

No one will be immune… So what should we do? We have to defuse this tension. We can’t afford not to diffuse it. The authorities should understand the following. If they fail to act (and Ren TV and others are saying that their failure to act is a betrayal of the Russian military), then the authorities (if anyone has read the books by Mr. Sharp, the head of the Albert Einstein Institute) will lose their support base. And when, as Mr. Sharp says, the authorities first lose one part of their support base, then another, and then a third, it becomes easier to dispose of them.

When both sides of a conflict (for example, the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict) appealed to Moscow, and Moscow failed to act or acted foolishly, sooner or later these forces began to act disregarding Moscow. And then the situation became hopeless. If the events on Manezhnaya Square had met with a response from the other side (which, thank God, was prevented) and if a weapon had been used, we would already have lost all stability. That illusory, decorative stability in which we live. So the authorities need to show initiative. What kind of initiative?

What are we talking about – never mind conspiracy theories? We’re talking about the fact that there are missing people in Chechnya. And their families want to know what happened to them. They want to see them if they are alive, or at least mourn them if they are buried somewhere. And they’re appealing to their authorities and to the authorities in general to have their questions answered.

For the authorities, these are highly uncomfortable questions, because they need to name those who allowed these disappearances. If there are many such inquiries, it is impossible not to answer them. Besides, the current situation is such that if you do not answer, all these requests will go to the European Court, to the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights. And they will deal with these inquiries there. And the authorities don’t need that.

So the Investigative Committee, to which citizens are appealing, starts writing inquiries. Are they supposed tell the citizens to shut up? On what grounds?

People are suggesting grounds for this. A number of parliamentarians are saying things like, if we granted amnesty to Chechen insurgents, why can’t or shouldn’t we grant amnesty to participants in the counter-terrorist operation? To all of them at once, with no more chances of appealing anything. So that this whole mess with a sad ending doesn’t start all over again [“Do Soldiers Returning from Chechnya Need an Amnesty?”,]. In principle, it may sound reasonable, with one caveat: the army can’t avoid punishing its rapists and marauders. Otherwise, there is no more army. An army that refuses to punish such offenses ceases to be an army. This applies to any war. It is impossible. Every military knows this… If you release the reins completely, it all goes to hell.

Yes, it’s been some years. Yes, the situation is very special. But many countries in the world have been through this situation. There was something similar with Vietnam. True, Vietnam was not close to the United States and was not part of America, not one of its states. Similar things happened to Algeria, which called for measures that went beyond certain limits. You can’t do nothing. So you can’t just grant amnesty to everyone. And everyone understands that it’s impossible.

The task is not to grant amnesty to everyone. It is to immediately create a special body, consisting of people who will satisfy both the ethnic Russian and the Chechen side, and who will have unquestionable authority for the Russian army. And who at the same time will have unquestionable authority in Chechnya, which is extremely difficult, but apparently still possible. Create this supreme body, not some kind of Investigative Committee. And moreover, its local branch, which, although it is technically under federal authority, everyone understands that this is largely a formality.

Create this supreme body, a Court of Honor. And quickly, in a short period of time, grant amnesty to a decisive part of the people on whose part inquiries are being made. And those who really went beyond all limits – the real and unequivocal looters and criminals – must be punished. Without putting it off for later, and then closing the case definitively. Draw a line by saying, “We will sort it all out in 3-4 months, and after that the case will be closed – that’s it, we’ll forget about it, there will be no more cases.” Respond to each relative, to each Chechen family. Because this is not Vietnam, it’s part of our state, even if it’s problematic. And, on the other hand, give an absolute, rock-solid guarantee to the Russian veterans who heroically fought in Chechnya. And stop the panic – immediately!

The task is to create this body. Not to stand idly by and watch everyone play against you. But the problem is that things are moving in a direction in which this sensible, obvious action most likely will not be carried out, although I personally will do everything I can to help it happen. Because the situation is monstrous.

If this is not done, then there is only one thing left to do: to appeal in earnest, not rhetorically, to the reason and feelings of both sides, to present the final data on this story, and to draw such attention to it that afterwards all further hooliganism (another serviceman was seriously injured, and they immediately begin to pin it onto the Budanov case, although it is clear that it probably has nothing to do with the case – again I will be careful) will be impossible. [On June 21, 2011 in Moscow, at Komsomolskaya Square, unknown attackers perpetrated a driveby shooting against a 33-year-old captain of the Interior Ministry troops and fled. The victim was hospitalized in serious condition].

Both the Russian military brotherhood, who fought in Chechnya, and the Chechen side should reflect on who is playing this game and why. Why, all of a sudden, are those who once played on the Chechen field, with correspondingly disastrous results for the Chechens, now playing on the ethnic Russian field, apparently wishing to achieve the same results?

So in my view, the point is that either we manage to awaken certain healthy reflexes in part of the ruling class… And then it will be possible to resolve both major situations connected with foreign challenges, and minor situations connected with incidents like the one described above. Minor situations that can kill, as Chekhov said. The country can die because of these “little things”.

So, either we have to awaken some feeling in part of the ruling class, because the other part is hopeless, and perhaps even malignant… Or we indeed have to rely on the civil society. And most likely, this civil society really is what we have to rely on.

Then we can have compromise commissions. Then we can have direct dialogue between the parties. Then we can have independent civil investigations. Then we can have the constant ability to keep all of this in the public eye (specifically in the public eye) and to stifle any stupid hysteria. Because behind all these arabesques there looms not a “Chechen enemy”, but an entirely different one. And a much more serious one at that.

Now let’s talk about this other thing looming behind us, its game, and about the general situation. Because the challenges and responses I have just addressed certainly pale in the face of the general set of problems, which demand even more serious responses from us. As Henri Barbusse once said, history is now calling out each of us by name.

You see, it calls out to each and every one of us. As long as all these trends continue, we will not be able to hold on to the Caucasus. We must change these trends.

We must be patient, so as not to let it all be torn apart completely. We must not let the mother die, nor allow the child to be torn apart. And we must understand that these tendencies are incompatible with life.

The Caucasus and Russia, or more precisely, the Caucasus and Moscow, will not maintain any positive consensus in the long term. Because Moscow is heading – quite monstrously – in one direction, while the Caucasus are moving in another, and no less monstrously. So the issue is for them to move towards rather than away from each other; it’s about changing the country’s direction completely.

Again, this is either a job for part of the ruling class, if it comes to its senses, or it is up to civil society. That very same catacomb society, which will be able to distance itself from this filth. But in order for civil society to form and mobilize … It would probably be more accurate to call this a “catacomb society” because the “civil” in the strict sense of the word has been replaced with criminals, and we can prove it… So, in order for this catacomb society, this counter-regressive entity, as we say, to form and mobilize, one must see the situation.

If everyone today realized that they are at war, everything would form very quickly. As it always has in Russian society when we are really talking about war. Everyone quickly shakes off this lethargy and starts to fight. But the trouble is that in 1941 the enemy came visibly and began to prove in very explicit and brutal ways that it is an absolute enemy, incompatible with life. And then the Russian warrior spirit, the Soviet warrior spirit mobilized. Completely. But not instantly. We do not know how to mobilize instantly. But when we did mobilize, we did not do a bad job even at the initial stage, and then we mobilized like nobody’s business. And we resolved the situation. The country was saved, and so was the world.

But no one sees the advancing enemy now. The enemy moves in silence and under such smokescreens that the eyes cannot detect it. They say there is the regular front and the invisible front. This is a completely invisible front. The whole difficulty of the present situation is that it is an invisible front. And in order to see this front, to make it visible and to really see the enemy, we need analytical and worldview optics.

We need to produce a sufficiently large, or I would say very large, a colossal number of politically educated and patriotic people. To make this education sufficiently coherent. And this is also the task for civil (or catacomb) society, no one will solve this problem for us.

It reminds me of radiation. There is a man standing there who has no radiometer or the like. They tell him, “You’re in mortal danger!” He replies: “What danger? The sun is shining, there are no explosions, the trees are not broken. What danger, what’s the matter?” After a while, the man gets sick and dies. And if the doctors don’t tell him what’s happening, he will never understand what happened.

Now something like that is happening. It’s very difficult to mobilize people to resist something that they really can’t understand because they don’t see it. Our society swings between panic and heroism. In general, in critical situations it is very easy to veer from one to the other. I’ve seen ex-special forces guys who first shouted, “This is a hideous country! No one needs us! How can we live here? Let’s hurry up and go somewhere in Spain, in France, get little houses in Montenegro, just to get away from here, just so we don’t have see this filth!” – and so on.

Then there was a program on Libya, and I mentioned Gaddafi and said that our country’s lack of support for him was a grave political mistake. And the very next day the same ex-special forces guys said, “Okay! Let’s go there: let’s collect the money, transport weapons (I don’t remember) through Tunisia, and at least start fighting there!”

This swinging from panic to heroism is generally a trait of unstable systems. In fact, there is only one step between panic and heroism. Panic very easily transforms into heroism if people suddenly see the enemy and understand the objectives. The scary thing is that they don’t understand.

As the hero of one Soviet movie said, “I suddenly thought, the German – he also went to school and sucked his mother’s tit, so you can beat him. And if you can, then you should…”. In other words, he suddenly had the feeling that he must fight fascism, because he can, he can see how to fight it, and because it is the ultimate evil. If this happens, then all the problems will be solved. But there are no tools to make it happen other than intellectual ones. Intellectual emotional optics is today’s main weapon of combat.

In this regard, it is not at all inappropriate to discuss the nature of the fascism that we fought, the physical war that we won… But we didn’t win the other war. This is a very serious question.

I read Igor Shafarevich’s series of articles on development, “Fortune-telling about the future,” with great attention. And I realized that the following complicates the situation to an incredible degree: everything that Marxist knowledge offered in the theoretical sense, and everything that was close to Marxism (which is most of 20th century philosophy), was rejected outright by people who despised the Soviet Union and everything Soviet. They rightly despised Soviet-Communist dogmatism (dogmatism is always repugnant), banality, and all the rest. And at the same time they dismissed everything else. But they threw the baby out with the bathwater… All that remains are certain opportunities of the liberal type and some others… Some of them seem insanely tempting at times, but they are certainly not a panacea, to put it mildly.

There are several points of view on history,” writes Shafarevich. – “All of them have a religious-mythological character. That is, they cannot be rationally argued or verified against historical facts.” []

Well, then what are they worth?

 Shafarevich: “The ancient Greek poet Hesiod, who lived in the seventh or eighth century BC, in his work ‘Works and Days’ sets forth a concept that dominated virtually all antiquity.”

Not all of it. I have the utmost respect for the fact that our natural science intelligentsia has expanded into the humanities, but we should move cautiously. If this concept were absolutely dominant, there would have been no antiquity as such.

History, according to his (Hesiod’s) view, is the history of humanity’s decline, with the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Copper Age, the Iron Age, etc., succeeding one another. But their names already indicate that humanity is degrading.” And also, continues Shafarevich, Mircea Eliade in his book The Myth of the Eternal Return says that in general everything degrades. Buddhism, Jainism, etc. claim the same.

Composition with a black circle by Kazimir Malevich, 1916.

This means that history, according to Shafarevich, is not progress, but regress.

What is fascism? It is not “sieg heil”, nor the death camps, nor the machine of military aggression, it is something else.

When the French Bourgeois Revolution took place and the era began of what Igor Shafarevich reduces progress to, the linear theory of progress (while it is in fact something quite different, much more complex)… So, when this historical breakthrough took place, the emerging bourgeois reality disappointed a great many people right away. It proved very vulgar, very crude. In spite of the fact that everything was advancing very rapidly in technological terms. Immediately, its colossal shortcomings became apparent. And two types of criticism of this reality simultaneously emerged – we called it “revolutionary romanticism” and “reactionary/conservative romanticism.”

One of these romanticists instantly said, “Let’s go back to the Middle Ages, for it was so much better under feudalism! We want to go back there!” The other, the Marxist one, began to criticize bourgeois reality on completely different grounds, and to call for a new historical breakthrough.

So, that romanticism, which kept wanting to go back to the “blessed Middle Ages” (it’s worth at least reading Walter Scott’s novels; in the works of the romantic Lake Poets, the rapture with antiquity and other trends is even more visible), aligned very closely with the political movements that wanted to restore the monarchy.

No one understood how feudalism could be restored… First, because it was no longer possible to bring back the estates. The people would resist, they had a taste of the gains, they would not give them up. Secondly, even if you bring back the estates, development would stall, and then a neighboring country would conquer you.

Therefore, it was unclear how to restore this monarchical feudalism. And that is why all the movements aimed at a monarchist restoration – the restoration of the Bourbons, or even something more profound – have always been weak. And yet they have always existed, because bourgeois reality was disgustingly vulgar; therefore, this look back was very natural, and enormous forces were dragging things back.

But these forces could not formulate their political program, because a program to directly restore the monarchy and feudalism was too crude and impractical. And for another concept to emerge, they needed fascism. Without fascism, nothing could be done. This is not the problem of the Jewish question, and it is not the problem of rituals. It’s a problem of substance – how to bring back the Middle Ages, changing them enough to make it work. This was called not a “restoration,” but a “conservative revolution.” And it did indeed work. But in order to do this, they had to make very profound changes: you can’t stop in the middle, you have to go all the way, to the end. And they reached the end: they rejected Christianity, brought back paganism, brought back occultism, glorified all these “primordial traditions,” and declared war on history and development as categories – an absolute war.

That’ s when they resorted to Hesiod and others. Hesiod and others are a natural phenomenon of their time, because no linear theory of progress exists as a working paradigm that describes reality in an adequate way. Because everyone already understands (and this is historically provable) that there was, say, the Minoan culture on Crete, a civilization which then collapsed; that there were very great advances in antiquity, which were then replaced by savagery; that there are cycles; that humanity moves like a roller coaster: up and down… But it is moving somewhere!

Okay, let’s say it isn’t moving.

What about the living world? Didn’t the world move from single-celled organisms to more complex creatures, then to vertebrates, then to intelligent life? Did that not happen? Should we be oblivious to all that? What about geology? Should we also get rid of Kant’s theory about the solar system and everything else? Shall we cancel the Big Bang? Should the historicity of matter be abolished? That atoms didn’t all arise at once, even elementary particles didn’t arise at once, all this too must be cancelled? But you can only cancel this all by appealing to the myth. By abandoning scientific consciousness altogether. Not by transforming science into something new, but simply by sending it all to hell and replacing it with a myth that will act on the principle of “I believe, because it is absurd.”

But you can’t do just that. In order to break with development and call history an abomination, you have to break with Christianity and all the world’s religions. There is a reason they talk about Buddhism and Jainism… So we are all moving to Buddhism and Jainism? What are we moving into? There is no Christianity without the arrow of time…

There are a few of our scholars who have fallen into a strange state, so to speak, and who want to crossbreed Christianity with antiquity in such a way as to make the arrow of time disappear. This, you know, obviously smacks of Basilides, Valentinus, and those like them. It’s not too far from other things.

So Christianity must then also be abandoned, and with it many other things. For the sake of what? For the model in which development is the absolute enemy to finally prevail. And then…

Look, how interesting it all is: on the one hand we have the liberals, who say that Modernity is synonymous with development; and therefore, long live development, long live Modernity! But this Modernity, like a horse, is lying there dead, and is completely incompatible with our tradition.

And on the other hand, we have their seeming opponents, who also say that development is synonymous with Modernity, and that Modernity is synonymous with the linear theory of progress. But it is not! It is not so even for Marx, who spoke of some kind of spiral. Of course, the forms of movement are much more complex, but that does not mean that there is no movement. That there is no movement from the single cell to intelligence. Of course there is!

There is the great mystery of forms gaining complexity, a mystery that is largely irrational. Because even at the level of classical physics it is not always possible to explain why a number of protons and neutrons, together with a number of electrons, are more economical than these particles separately. And for many more complex forms one can, on the contrary, prove that they are uneconomical.

One can either praise development or curse it. There is no third way.

And then they begin to equate development with Modernity, Modernity with the linear theory of progress, the linear theory of progress with the degenerated model, and the degenerated model with hedonistic consumer society, whose main feature is that it does not develop. With the help of these false equivalences they are trying to abolish development altogether. In order to replace it with what? Next – what does one do with the world religions when the idea of development is abandoned? There are no seven days of creation. There is not ladder of human ascension to the Ideal. There is no seventh heaven (as a heaven above paradise). There is no sacred time.

Either development is what we worship, what we admire, and what we long for. But the whole difference is that the Russian form of development is not Modernity, it is precisely an alternative form of development (and there are profound reasons for this). And we worship this development, move strive for it, comprehend its mystery, and move in this direction.

Or we must condemn development, equate it with Modernity, and then abolish it because of the Russian incompatibility with Modernity.

And here it turns out that, in political projection, everything is surprisingly clear, to the point of insult. Very different forces, both liberal and conservative White, have always fought against communism and the Soviet Union. These forces have always hated each other, both on ethnic and other grounds, but they have always worked together. It was an anti-communist consensus and it was built like this, beginning with the White Guard era and through all the twists and turns and actions of the Central Intelligence Agency – combining different groups of anti-Sovietists into a single entity. They were supposed to coexist on the radio stations, work together, they could hate each other, but they were to hate communism and development most of all. They devised different theories in order to destroy it.

Destroy what? The alternative conception of development, the historical one, which has manifested itself up to the present, I beg your pardon, in only one thing – Soviet communism and nothing else. If someone doesn’t like it, it’s not my fault. It has been historically manifested – not in theoretical doctrines, but as a historical fact – only in Soviet communism. This practice is an incredibly valuable experience. It is not only precious for the Russian soul. Because if it does not exist, it means that the Russians were idiots when they did it all. But if they were idiots then it means that they were idiots before, when they created their Empire. Because this practice was born of the Empire. And if they were idiots in the Empire, they were idiots forever. They must curse their fate and die. So this experience is insanely valuable not only for Russia. It is valuable for the world as well.

A man lost his money, he pats two of his pockets and shouts, “No, I don’t have it!” People tell him, “Look in the third pocket!” And he says, “I’m afraid. What if it isn’t in the third pocket either?” So now all of humanity is afraid to touch this “Soviet pocket” and to understand that maybe therein lies the only chance to solve the problems of the 21st century, which cannot be solved in any other way, the chance for an alternative development. And we must discuss this chance, this logic of the struggle between development and nondevelopment in no less detail than we must discuss the threats to territorial integrity and to our state that are growing before our eyes. Because if we miss this fundamentally, then we may somehow be able to overcome specific local threats, but we still won’t be able to save the country.


“Knight at the Crossroads” by Viktor Vasnetsov. 1882
Knight at the Crossroads by Viktor Vasnetsov. 1882.


Source (for copy):

Essence of Time: The philosophical justification of Russia’s Messianic Claims in the 21st century

Sergey Kurginyan

Experimental Creative Centre International Public Foundation

Essence of Time is a video lecture series by Sergey Kurginyan: a political and social leader, theater director, philosopher, political scientist, and head of the Experimental Creative Centre International Public Foundation. These lectures were broadcast from February to November 2011 on the websites, and .

With its intellectual depth and acuity, with its emotional charge, and with the powerful mark of the author’s personality, this unusual lecture series aroused great interest in its audience. It served at the same time as both the “starting push” and the conceptual basis around which the virtual club of Dr. Kurginyan’s supporters, Essence of Time, was formed.

The book Essence of Time contains the transcriptions of all 41 lectures in the series. Each one of them contains Sergey Kurginyan’s thoughts about the essence of our time, about its metaphysics, its dialectics, and their reflection in the key aspects of relevant Russian and global politics. The central theme of the series is the search for paths and mechanisms to get out of the systemic and global dead end of all humanity in all of its dimensions: from the metaphysical to the gnoseological, ethical, and anthropological. And as a result, out of the sociopolitical, technological, and economical dead end.

In outlining the contours of this dead end and in stressing the necessity of understanding the entire depth, complexity, and tragedy of the accumulating problems, the author proves that it is indeed Russia, thanks to the unusual aspects of its historical fate, which still has a chance to find a way out of this dead end, and to present it to the world. But, realizing this chance is possible only if this becomes the supreme meaning of life and action for a “critical mass” of active people who have in common a deep understanding of the problems at hand.

Dr. Kurginyan’s ideas found a response, and the Essence of Time virtual club is growing into a wide Essence of Time social movement. In front of our very eyes, it is becoming a real political force.

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