Tuesday, February 27

Writer Svetlana Aleksievich: “Putin does not care how many people may die”

Svetlana Aleksiévich has devoted a good part of her literature to portraying and understanding the soul of the old Soviet people and its vicissitudes throughout history, and nothing suggests that she will get rid of this task. The failed revolution in Belarus, first, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, later, continue to feed his journalistic gaze and his literary desire, he explained this Monday from the Palau de la Generalitat, in a talk with journalists prior to the reception of the Premi Internacional Catalunya . “Lately I am studying evil and violence”, she detailed about the project she has in hand, “because I belong to a country that has not been able to get out of the vicious circle of hatred”.

Russia attacks the center of kyiv in the first bombardment of the capital for months

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Coincidentally, Aleksievich, 2015 Nobel Prize winner for Literature and author of works such as The End of Homo Sovieticus either Voices from Chernobyl, learned from the headquarters of the Catalan Government of a novelty in the Ukrainian conflict that supposes a new military escalation and that affects his country, Belarus, from which he went into exile in 2020. Shortly after the conference in Barcelona began, the Belarusian president Victor Lukashenko announced the deployment of joint military units with Russia on its western border. But the author takes it coolly. “She Says a lot of things to maintain relations with Putin. She promised many times before that he would go to war, but I don’t know what result it could have. And more if thousands of corpses begin to arrive in the country, ”she warned.

The Belarusian writer knows the Lukashenko regime well. She from him she had to flee in 2020, during the citizen protests that ended up being quelled with the help of Putin, to take refuge in Berlin. She left behind a manuscript that was to be a future novel about love, she explained on Monday. She has not been able to retrieve it, but she would still have set it aside momentarily to continue with her encyclopedia on the subject. homo Sovietus, now focused on the war being waged in Ukraine.

“For my new book I wonder why we have a Russian fascism. Why the Russian people accept that vision. What has happened with Putin, with the Russian elite. After 30 years of relative freedom, how is it possible that we have a Russian fascism?”, the writer questioned. But for now she has no answers, she added, only observations. “Our conscience is in shock. What I see is that people, in the morning, get up and run to turn on the computer and see that the Crimean bridge has been blown up, or that kyiv is being bombed… It is difficult to imagine what could happen”, he expressed.

Regarding the future of the conflict, Aleksievich has made it clear that “Putin does not care how many people may die in his objective to annihilate Ukraine”, but he places his hopes in the Ukrainian victory. “If Putin doesn’t push the nuclear button, he will lose and it will be a military defeat. But the button worries me a lot”, he has stated. What he has not been too confident about, at least in the short term, is a revolt to overthrow the Russian president. “Russia is a country that is not yet ready to change”, he has expressed. In the long run, however, he has stated: “I believe that dictators cannot win. Time is against you. What we don’t know is when.”

Aleksievich, who will also participate in the Biennial of Thought organized by the Barcelona City Council, has now more than ever defended his way of seeing literature, related to journalism, and which consists of portraying societies through the voices of those who do not they often appear in the headlines or the history books. “During my travels through the former USSR, these testimonies were the most interesting, those of women who tell you about war but about much more, about how difficult it is to preserve the human heart, human identity”, he claimed.

For literature in capital letters, he argued, an old man or a child who is miraculously saved in a bombing raid during World War II can be much more important than an invented character. “I started doing it that way and I think this is a literary space that should be expanded,” he claimed as a militant of this literary genre, whose polyphonic nature he wanted to compare with that of modern artistic installations: “No one disputes that they are art.”

The award-winning writer has not missed the opportunity to criticize all those who compromise with the Putin regime, and has claimed to have lost friends for this reason. And he has remembered the interpreter Katya Andreeva, the journalist who interpreted Spanish for him and who remains in prison, with an eight-year sentence, due to the 2020 demonstrations. “What they are doing with her is a crime and her Words from prison are precious. She has no regrets, she knows what she is doing, she is a victim who makes a sacrifice on the altar of truth”.

At 74, Aleksievich hopes to return to Belarus and finish his book on love. As it happens, to prepare for it, before his exile, he read this year’s Nobel Laureate, Annie Hernaux. She has highlighted “her almost physical honesty of her” of her. “I value her very much and I’m very happy for her,” he celebrated.