Recently, the famous Russian émigré writer Boris Akunin (Gryhoriy Chhartishvili) published his new novel titled “The Devil’s Advocate”. The name, at first glance, is quite stereotypical, the famous novel “The Devil’s Advocate” by Andrew Neiderman and the even better known film of the same name by Taylor Hackford with Keanu Reeves in the lead role immediately come to mind. And in general, a story as old as the world about compromises with conscience, which unwittingly or voluntarily push a seemingly decent person on the path to protection from evil.
So what is special about Akunin’s new book? This is the Russia of the future, the near future, hopefully, where the Putinist regime has just been overthrown. Here is how the author describes the current situation:
“McDonald’s is coming back to Russia.” “Turnip fries”, “borscht pie” and “Ivanchai cola”, popular with Russians, will remain on the menu. Kyryla Serebrennikov (immigrant director, opposed to the invasion of Ukraine, – ed.) has been appointed artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater. The maestro’s first performance will be Bellini’s opera “Norma”, libretto by Vladimir Sorokin (a Russian dissident writer, whose work includes a novel also called “Norma”, which recounts the Soviet repressive system, editor’s note). The patriarch blessed the ordination of women. Metropolitans, bishops and archpriests will appear in the Russian Orthodox Church. North Korea refused to extradite Yevgeny Prigozhin. The DPRK embassy said he will work as a cook in the canteen of the agricultural commune “Zorya Chukhe”.
It’s such a fun situation. How did it happen? Clearly not through honest and fair elections. It’s ridiculous to write about such things, no reader would believe the author. Not by “rebellions, revolutions and uprisings”. Not even by a palace coup or a putsch by “black colonels”. This is not the work of CIA or MI6 agents with a license to kill. It’s just that the “national leader”, as he is called in the novel, was hit (the Russians have a nice term “kondrashka khvatila”) just during a boring straight of several hours. It was he who tried to make a bitter joke about the US president, like the one he made during Angela Merkel’s visit, about a “grandmother” who could become a “grandfather” if she had you-know-what.
“The paranoid old man simply could not stand the many months of war stress, he overloaded the nervous system with stimulants”, – this is how the author determined the cause of death.
But the main thing is not this, but the fact that the successor to the “national leader” was from where? That’s right: all of the same Russian special services and the glorious Russian “Okhranka” dynasty. He miraculously managed to refrain from actively participating in the invasion, bloody statements, apology events for the occupation, etc. He was lucky enough to fall out of favor with the monarch in time and be sent to the far outskirts – the governor of the fictional city of Vladisevörovostok.
And here’s the most interesting thing about the novel: how did the West perceive the new “National Leader”? It is worth quoting, because Akunin’s version strikes me as surprisingly prophetic:
“The West also hoped, because the West is positive, optimistic and sees any change as a chance for the better. The former Russian ruler had nowhere to retreat, he was expected in The Hague, and the one “He is not tainted with anything bloody, not detached from reality, again, his whole life is ahead of him. The interim president has received signals from Washington, London and Brussels.”
Let us remember that more than 22 years ago, the same West welcomed the presidency of the hebist Putin. At that time, no one suspected its dangerousness for the global security architecture. Unreliable, Boris Yeltsin has already had everyone in the West, so no one was against replacements in the highest Kremlin cabinet. Moreover, the alternative candidate for this position, Yevhenii Primakov, was by no means an acceptable candidate for the Western establishment. We know that he was the main instigator of the conflict in the Middle East. Everyone remembers his anti-Western declarations, his famous “U-turn on the Atlantic”, when he ordered to bring back to Moscow his plane en route for Washington, in protest against the air strikes on Yugoslavia . Meanwhile, Putin has been rocking the ears of Europeans and Americans with progressive, pro-Western rhetoric.
At that time, in high office in Washington and Brussels, Putin’s rise saw its reasons. Just like now, they would see a “little better Russian” coming to the seat of power in the Kremlin. Uncontaminated by war, at least in appearance, this is sufficient for the reestablishment of contacts, the gradual introduction of sanctions, and even active cooperation, especially in the field of global security.
Recently on the TV channel CNN a high-profile interview with former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has emerged. The most interesting moment, at least for Ukrainians, is when the interviewee analyzes the positions of global players in Western politics on the eve of the Russian invasion.
“It was a huge shock…We saw how the Russian tactical groups-battalions were grouped together, but different countries reacted differently…Germany at one point thought that if this happened, what would be a disaster, it was better to end everything as soon as possible, and Ukraine – to surrender,” Johnson said of German politicians. After all, we already knew, from the words of Ambassador Andrii Melnyk, that, for example, the German Finance Minister, Christian Lindner, was convinced that Ukraine would resist force “for a few hours”. the Russia of FAST foolish”.
The French, according to Johnson, refused to believe in a full-scale Russian offensive until the last moment. Can you blame them? After all, the Ukrainian leadership was also almost convinced that there would be no offensive.
Johnson also criticized the Italian government, whose prime minister was Mario Draghi at the time. “At one point the Italians said they simply couldn’t support other countries’ position because of their dependence on Russian hydrocarbons,” the former British prime minister said.
At the same time, Johnson said that after the Ukrainian military demonstrated its ability to effectively repel Russian aggression, the positions of Western countries fundamentally changed. “Everyone – the Germans, the French, the Italians, everyone, Joe Biden – saw that there was just no choice. Because you can’t agree with this guy (Putin). This is a key moment,” said the former British prime minister. He admitted that at that time “Euronia did a brilliant job” and organized a decisive opposition to Russia and help to Ukraine.
This is understandable, but the question of the attitude of the West towards post-Putin Russia remains open. Ukraine’s alliance of “warriors of light, warriors of good” will win over the criminal regime, and what will come next? The recipe for the end of the First World War does not work, we immediately reject it. The recipe for the denazification and demilitarization of Hitler’s Germany proved to be effective. But it is unlikely that it will be possible to apply it to Russia, since the situation will be very different from that of Germany. One can, of course, dream of Allied troops entering Moscow, removing the Kremlin star and planting a trident in its place. However, it is more likely that everything will end in negotiations, where Russia will be forced to sign a peace treaty that is shameful to her. The whole “shame”, most likely, will consist only in the fact that the aggressor country will be forced to return all the illegally captured territories.
Disputes will only revolve around the maintenance of sanctions. That is, if the West will have the political will to insist on fundamental democratic reforms in Russia for the gradual abolition of fines. Or will he accept, as Vladimir Lenin wrote in his first decree, “peace without annexations or contributions”, rejoicing that the war is over? If the development of events proceeds according to the second scenario, then do not go to the fortune teller, in a few years, as soon as it is possible to restore military potential, we will have a repeat of the Kremlin revenge campaign .
Therefore, the main task of Ukrainian diplomacy (of course, after providing military assistance) is to constantly express this danger in Western capitals. So that the West does not unwittingly become “the devil’s advocate”.
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