Zakhar Prilepin: They and us. Viewpoints of Russia and the West

ALAFF’s author’s translation of Zakhar Prilepin’s article in the latest issue of the magazine «Stolitsa Nizhny» (in English — «The Capital Nizhny [Novgorod]»). The magazine is published in the city of Nizhny Novgorod (one of the largest Russian cities, the capital of Privozhsky federal district of Russia, one of the cities that hosted the World Cup 2018 in Russia). This is a monthly city magazine with news of culture and business. In this article, Zakhar Prilepin talks about the attitude of the Russian and Western media to world events and the prejudice of Western journalists towards Russia, expressed in the use of primitive clichés and stereotypes.

Zakhar Prilepin — famous Russian writer, publicist, philologist, TV host. Known for his social, political and humanitarian activities. A member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation since October 2016. Zakhar Prilepin is known for his civil position. In particular, the writer went as a volunteer to the Donbass to fight on the side of the militia against Ukrainian chasteners. Works of Prilepin were published in English, German, French, Italian, Chinese, Danish, Norwegian, Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Armenian. Detailed bibliography of the writer.

Zakhar Prilepin, a writer.

Nine out of ten European media will never publish what I tell them about the conflict in the Donbass. No European country has published my book on Donbass events; while the writings of Ukrainian writers about cyborgs*, GRU snipers on the Maidan and Putin’s aggression were published by all European countries, many times. But who will reproach them for keeping silent about the truth? They just see it that way. But what about us? What do we see?

Nine out of ten meetings with a journalist from any European country follow the same pattern: «Do you have problems with the publication of books [in Russia], since you worked in the same newspaper with [Anna] Politkovskaya? How are journalists being persecuted in Russia? Is Russia in the Donbass a policy of expansion? Crimes of the Russian army in Syria — what do you know about it? Why do Russian people love Stalin so much and dislike Gorbachev? Is it possible to defeat corruption in Russia? Why did you change your mind about Putin?». Out of mercy, at the very end of the conversation, they are asking something about my next novel translated into their European language.

One can, of course, go along the line of least resistance and answer the question about Donbass and the expansion policy: yes, this is an expansion policy; when asked about crimes in Syria, one can say: yes, these are crimes against humanity; when asked about Stalin, one can say that the Russian man is a slave and lagged behind the Europeans by 100 years; plus add something about Putin, summarizing all of the foresaid. The problem is that before me all this was already said in the West by Boris Akunin; why should i repeat.

I am lazily saying that they themselves are full of corruption; that their journalists write about the agenda that is allowed, but they don’t write about the agenda that, in their opinion, is not the agenda, and, it seems, they don’t even think about it; that they themselves hang around in Syria (and bomb it), and for some reason they even tamper on Ukraine; that the people in Russia do not like Stalin, but simply want to cut the comb of the completely shameless [Russian] bourgeoisie, which, it seems, is already not afraid of anything except Stalin. But there is no Stalin, and it is impossible to return him from the underworld for a week. But the most important thing that I explain [them] is something else.

If, I say, a British, Italian, French or German writer arrives in Russia, the Russian journalist will never have the thought to arrange an interrogation with passion. For example, like this: «What have you done in Syria (Algeria, Iraq and down the list)? What are you doing in Ukraine? Why do you have such corruption? Why do you have migrants [problem]? What is this gay propaganda in your schools? Why is there a lack of freedom in your newspapers? Why do they draw Putin with Hitler’s mustaches in your magazines? Is this funny?».

Well, if you try, you can assume one some very tactfully formulated question to any of the topics mentioned, but the colleagues themselves will begin to hiss discontentedly on a journalist who asked such a question. Why is that? [Because] We love guests. We respect them. We do not believe that their writers should be responsible for their politicians and, all the more so, to condemn them while staying in a foreign land. But on the other hand, I tell myself, if they ask me such questions, then they believe that the Russian writer has the right to answer them? And I begin to answer. Unfortunately, at least one of my five interviews will not be published. Sometimes two.

In a recent interview, I said that North Korea is a country like any other, and brought the world much less evil than many European players; as for the repressions in North Korea itself — South Korea supplies 99% of the news about North Korea. This is the same thing as judging Russia by Ukrainian news, but only worse. They (European journalists — ALAFF.) did not even cut out this piece [of interview], but solved [the problem] simply and radically: people who say such things have no right to be heard in a European country.

According to Zakhar Prilepin, his interviews with Western media on
political issues often remain unpublished.

Another time I said that in France alone, over 80% of the media belong to three corporations that are controlled by the United States, so don’t tell me about the freedom of the European media and about our (Russian — ALAFF.) terrible censorship. This conversation remained in the dictaphone and did not reach the readers either. For the third time… However, nevermind. The fact is that this is not censorship, right? This is an «editorial policy». They just do not share my point of view, but share theirs and Boris Akunin’s. Of course, if these are not the same but different points of view.


* «Cyborgs» — the nickname of the Ukrainian soldiers who participated in the battles for the airport of Donetsk in 2014-2015.


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