Numerous rather unintelligent Western media often pretend that those who wish to unite Russia, Bielorus and Ukraine or at least strengthen relations between them are all necessarily ideologues in the mould of Alexander Dugin or resurgant Soviet communists. This is not the place for an elaborate meditation on Dugin. Rather, I should like to note that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who conservatives would have once given great respect, shares the views espoused by Alexander Dugin on the Ukraine question, and it is no surprise that the West enjoys quoting Dugin rather than reading Solzhenitsyn. For while Alexander Dugin is convinced that Russia is now under attack by NATO and expresses himself like a man without illusions, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn saw that Russia was above all under attack by Western stupidity and forever expressed himself like a Christian. Western stupidity has, of course, thus far caused more harm to the West than to Russia, and the real fear of intelligent Russians is that Western stupidity, combined with arms and funds, will eventually overwhelm Russia after having first brought down the last remnants of Western civilization. Below, I have translated a 1990 letter from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to his Ukrainian friend Sviatoslav Karavanski, published in 1993 and fragments from a later interview with Solzhenitsyn published in 2006. Americans should take heed. Solzhenitsyn’s words would make President Reagan roll over in his grave. America in 2014 is supporting the goals of Lenin, helping pummel the city of Donietsk, a historic British city which was a bastion of anti-Leninist resistance and advancing a geopolitical vision dreamt up by German imperialists, pursued by Hitler in the west and Bolsheviks in the east. It is only historical ignorance which makes this possible. To get our bearing, we must revisit Solzhenitsyn who, in the translations that follow, explodes the myths of Western war propaganda as only a man who resisted the Soviet Union can:
Esteemed Mr. Sviatoslav Karavanski,
I deeply respect you for all that you have suffered and for your calm under duress when you were made to suffer. I am happy that I can hear your calm voice, even though your countrymen—from the tribune of the High Committee of the USSR to the far off emigrant newspapers—have concluded on the basis of my writings that I am simply a believer in Greater Russia, a chauvinist, a colonialist, a servant of imperial tyranny, and a “retarded imperialist” at that (as published in Gomin of Ukraine 10.10.1990). Such premeditated blindness and incompetence make one wonder, but also make one alert. Just what are they trying to hide by barking so loud?
I can appeal to you sir, in the hope for mutual understanding, since they have not sought such mutual understanding with me.
With regard to your historical arguments, begining with your reflections on Tatar invasion (at least with respect to Red Rus and not Rus itself), one could elaborate on this matter for quite some time. Yet all such elaborations would pale when compared to the strongest argument which you now fail to make, perhaps because it is so clear: If the hearts of the people of Ukraine desire to seperate from the Soviet Union, then we have nothing to quarrel about. All that is required is a movement of the heart! This was the thrust of my article. I also wrote about this in my Gulag Archipelago (part V, chapter 2). This is why my current view is certainly not without precedent. Yet even you, good sir, have failed to note that I have no quarrel with Ukrainian seperatism, only with the factual state of Ukraine.
Currently, as statues of Lenin are being torn down in Ukraine (as rightly they should be!), why is it that western Ukrainians of all people in that land desire that the state of Ukraine should have the borders made for it by Lenin himself? The borders which Uncle Lenin himself drew up for Ukraine? For the present borders of Ukraine are the result of Lenin seeking for a way to compensate the Ukrainian people for consuming their liberty under Soviet domination. Thus it was Lenin who arbitrarily attached Novorosiya, the Donbas (by which Lenin seperated the Donbas from the anti-Communist counter revolutionaries of Donietsk) as well as attaching parts of the left bank to Ukraine. Later, Krushchev arbitrarily added Crimea to Ukraine. And now Ukrainian nationalists stand firm in defense of their “holy” territorial integrity—of borders created by Lenin?
I wrote in my article (though I suspect no one read what I had to say): “of course, if the Ukrainian nation does indeed wish to go, then no one can dare use force to prevent their departure.” But realize please how heterogenous is this great territory and allow the local people to decide the fate of their districts. And for writing this, I am considered to be a “retarded imperialist?” What of those who forbid the nation from expressing its will, and, along with those democrats and liberty lovers, even fear this expression of national will for some strange reason?
Under such turbulent circumstances, it is impossible to discuss this complex problem through which our two nations have combined together through family ties in hundreds of cities. There is also an additional argument which, to my surprise, you make: you claim that the language which children will speak should not be left to the “whims” of parents, but should be determined by the State? You write that “non-Ukrainians are free to make their choice”. But will you limit the amount of their schools? As for Ukrainians, I understand you to be saying they are not free to choose? Thus you support coercion yet again? No sir, this dictatorship is unnecessary. Let all cultures develop in a natural way.
Zvezda, December 1993
That was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1990. By 2006, he had become far more alarmed and pessimistic, as we can see from this interview in the Moscow News:
WT: Personally, I think that the three basic components of Christian civilization, Euro-Atlantic civilization—the United States, the European Union and Russia—should all create a strategic alliance with one another sooner or later. If they do not, then our whole civilization will cease to exist. How can we save our European and Atlantic civilization; does it need to be saved?
Solzhenitsyn: Unfortunately, global processes seem to be moving along a direction contrary to your desires. The United States of America are moving their occupation armies into ever newer countries. Such was the case of Bosnia 9 years ago. Such was the case of Kosovo. We have witnessed it over the last 5 years in Afghanistan and over the last 3 years in Iraq. Although in Iraq, the occupation will not survive long. The activities of NATO and, seperately of the United States, do not differ except in minor details. NATO clearly realizes that Russia is not capable of threatening the Alliance and thus NATO methodically and stubbornly develops its military aparatus from Eastern Europe to the south of continental Russia. One sees it in their open support for a variety of color revolutions as well as the paradox of North Atlantic interests taking precedent there over central Asian interests. All of this leaves little doubt: NATO is in the process of encircling Russia and depriving Russia of its independence as a nation state. So, to answer your question: no, allying Russia to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization that uses violent force in various corners of our planet to plant the seeds of an ideology of modern western democracy will not expand Christian civilization, only terminate it.
WT: What is your view about what is happening in Ukraine. And what is your view on the issue of fragmenting the Russian nation (the most fragmented nation in Europe)? Should Russia raise the prospect of uniting all of the Russian and Rus lands if the Ukrainian elites turn their country in the direction of NATO and the EU?
Solzhenitsyn: Events in Ukraine, ever since the time of the referendum in 1991, with its poorly formulated options, have been a constant source of pain and anger to me. I have written and spoken about this often. The fanatic oppression and supression of the Russian language there (a language which polls show is consistently the prefered language of 60% of the people there) is a beastly methodology aimed primarily against the cultural prospects of Ukraine itself. The vast territories which were never part of historic Ukraine, such as Crimea, Novorosiya and the entire southeast were forcibly and arbitrarily consumed into the territory of modern Ukraine and made hostage to Ukraine’s desires to join NATO. Under the Yeltsin presidency, not one meeting was ever held with the Ukrainian President that did not end in Russia capitulating and accepting everything Ukraine requested. Yeltsin uprooted the Black Sea fleet from Sevastopol; something not even Krushchev did under the USSR. It is all a simple minded, indeed simpleton and cruel joke perpetuated against the entire history of XIX and XX century Russia. Given these circumstances, Russia will never, in any way, betray the many millions of Russian speaking peoples in Ukraine. Russia will never abandon the ideal of unity with them.
Moscow News, interview with WT Trietiakov published 28 April/4 May 2006
The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.
The featured image is an image of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1974) by Verhoeff, Bert / Anefo and is licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. It appears here, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.