The recently departed Vitaly Churkin was /ourguy/ in every sense of the word.
Not only did he fight the good fight in the UN, it has recently emerged he also blogged the good blog (and commented the good comments) online as imperia-mir.
We can’t be 100% certain that it is him. We have only the last post on that blog, claiming Churkin as its main author, to assert that. However, that blog has been in existence for a long time, and the person behind it has consistently commented like someone who is pretty high up, and in the know about, the inner workings of Russian international politics, so the claim is not incredible.
If this is the case, then the picture that emerges is of a Russian patriot, committed to state service, whose ideas and values are surprisingly unorthodox, original, and interesting, especially by the standards of the gray Russian bureaucractic caste.
On Crimea (Mar 11, 2014)
Crimea is not just…
It is not just Cimmeria, of which the man in the street primarily knows only on account of the name of a barbarian played by a future governor of California…
It is not only the land of the ancient Scythians, whose name resounded far beyond the borders of the Empire that adopted them…
It is not only the kingdoms, cities, towns, and polises, with the proud names of Panticapaeum, Kalos Limen, Theodosius, Heracleon. It is not just only just the realm of the ancient – the shipbuilding, the viticulture, the growing of olives, the construction of temples, theaters, stadiums. It is not just Euripedes, and not just the drama Iphigenia in Tauris.
Yes, Odysseys rested in Evpatoria. Yes, the caligae of the Roman vexillationes gathered dust on the Via Militaris. But not only them. “From Scythia to Camelot,” yes, but not only.
It is not only the Sarmats and the Goths, and the Horde, and the Rus. It is not only wars, it is not just the shores bleached gray by eternity, it is not just the vineyards of the Golitsyns, it is not just the Tatars, not just the sieges, not just the splendor of Potemkin, his works, his pains, and the horrific myths dreamt up about his feats. Not just the Russian fleet, not just the union of steel, will, and talent of all Europe, not just the ascent of John Paul Jones, the creator of the US Navy and an admiral of the Russian Navy, and hundreds of others, who are no less ours by law and blood.
It is not only Ivan Aivazovsky and Alexander Grin, it is not just the crimson sails of the Soviet squadrons, it is not just the endless defenses of endless Sevastopol in the name of endless Russia, baptized into the Empire by the will of God at Chersonesus. And it is not even the Kazantip festival.
It is not only the underground submarine base at Balaklava, where the British Light Brigade perished; it is not the sailor hero Koshka; it is not the endless landing troops, polygons, airports, scientific centers, not the space observation stations, not the looted long-range radar stations and the destroyed fields that were once used to test the Lunokhod moon rovers; it is not Levadia, not Yalta, not the 147 bays and 295 wharfs; it is not the sunsets, the auroras, and not even the secluded lakes and islands, where people learned to talk with dolphins.
Taurida is our Avalon.
It is our sword. And is it returning to us.
On Putin (Jul 19, 2014)
Today I learned something that has forced me to reevaluate my opinion about Vladimir Putin.
“Forced” – not quite the right word, and “something” – is a euphemism.
I have always voted for him freely (including, dear God, during “Operation Successor”). I have always been critical towards him – from his personnel policy to a certain (in my view) naive and complacent strategy towards our “Western Partners” (TM), a criminally lackadaisical attitude towards homegrown Russophobe extremists, the strange loyalty to an entire array of strange neoliberal economic mantras, the lack of a clear general development strategy in the widest sense of the word, indecisiveness, the art of “thin ambiguity,” the secret service mentality of not explaining things fully – in other words, my criticism is the entire repertoire of a person who criticizes Putin for not being sufficiently Putin (that is, one’s own singular Putin). And I will continue criticizing him, in part because I do not conflate patriotism and the absence of criticism for making mistakes.
My criticism is based on a social heart, a liberal (in the correct, original, and good sense of this word) mind, an anarchic liver, and monarchic (not constitutional) nerves. My soul belongs to God in the Orthodox interpretation (I hope), but I’d like to live in a pantheistic (not in a pagan one! nor in a so-called “secular”) state! I don’t like Stalin, but hate his demonization, and lies about him. I don’t consider the Russian Empire to be better than the USSR, or vice versa – I have no desire to try to compare the incomparable, or to divide up a continuum. I am a conservative, but can’t stand the opponents of progress. I love ancient traditions, but I am all for genetic engineering and other experiments with embryonic cells. I believe that humanity will conquer the stars, but will be unable to master itself. I equally despise all political systems, but consider direct and absolute democracy, which doesn’t exist and never has, to be closest to my own worldview. Today I live in the country, the US, that is closest to this ideal (with the exception, perhaps, of San Marino), and consider that Russia would find this model to be even more natural and useful and effective, than here. When I live in Russia, I forget all this and it’s all irrelevant to me (joke). Abroad, they categorize me as a “Russian nationalist,” even though, if I am a “nationalist” of anything, it is of the (early) Roman Empire.
In short, I am a typical Russian person.
And my attitudes towards Putin are thus homespun, rustic, true with an inevitable correction for an unusually high level of informedness, but nonetheless, still in the style of, “Caesar, don’t forget that you’re bald!”
But now, everything has changed.
If what I have learned is true (and I have no doubts about this, except in the scenario, “The entire world is an illusion, Neo”), then I have been very much mistaken on Putin.
I believed that he was an ordinary man – well, someone with a high intellect, highly developed instincts, etc., a modest requisition on historical greatness, and so on.
But now I doubt all that. When this happened to him, I am not sure – at birth, before birth, at his meeting with Father John Krestyankin, or even when he swam with the dolphins – but it happened.
And verily I speak: When “Zeus lifts up his soul into the starry sky,” all of Olympus will spar for the right to his nerves, for they are the metal to create invulnerable armor for new Achilles – and Hephaestus himself will prostrate himself before his iron will.
Because nothing human is alien to man.
And because after all that I have learned, I no longer fear even Armageddon with this leader.
Everything will be great.
Our trials will be fearsome. Very fearsome.
But we got very lucky with him. Very lucky.
PS. Anticipating the inevitable dull reactions (in the style of “LOL this vatnik found his idol”), I will just quote the aforementioned Father John Krestyankin:
“You know, once upon a time in Russia before the Revolution there was this one attraction: A circus frequently visited the market, and they hadvarious shows. And one show was called, “Live Peter the Great for 20 kopeks.” There was a tent, within which was a giant telescope, and there entered a person who began to look into its tube, to see Peter the Great. The staff said, “Focus it.” He focused it. “Focus it more.” He focused it even more. And when all attempts failed, they asked him, “And? Do you not yet see him.” “No, I don’t.” And then they told him, “Well, who’d have thought! What did you want, anyway – to see the live Peter the Great for just 20 kopeks!” And on this note, the show ended.
Of course, this might be an invented example, but the Father explained it further. He said, “And so we too in this life want to see a living Christ, for 20 rubles or 20 kopeks. No, it doesn’t work like that. We have to strive together, we have to work, we have to live an intense spiritual life, because man reaps what he sows – He who sows parsimoniously, reaps little; he who sows generously, reaps richly.
Commenter: So what is it that you found out?
imperia_mir: I still want to live. I’m not writing this from Russia. There can be many sorts of provocations, and different situations, and more serious than the one with the Boeing. And when they are averted, it is as if they do not exist. And that’s good. Because the mere voicing of some situations – can be a catastrophe.