The Writer Dmitry Bykov on Putin’s Russia, the Land of the “Most Free Slaves”


Manage episode 334494416 series 94072
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Until very recently, Dmitry Bykov was a huge presence on the Russian literary scene. He is a novelist, a poet, a biographer, and a critic. He was a frequent presence on Echo of Moscow, the liberal radio station that was closed after the invasion of Ukraine, and his blunt political commentary made him an enemy of the regime. Bykov was teaching in the United States, at the Institute for European Studies at Cornell University, when the invasion of Ukraine began, and because of his forthright opposition to it, he may not be able to return home as long as Putin remains in power. Bykov calls Putin’s dictatorship “the final stage of Russian decline.” He blames not only Putin himself but the Russian people for the failure of democracy to take root. “In Russia they have a choice: to change the country—change themselves—or to keep Putin. They prefer to keep Putin,” Bykov tells David Remnick. “They’re really ready to die, but not to change their mind.” Most Russians, he continues, seem content “to make Putin responsible for everything, exclaiming, ‘We didn’t know, we couldn’t prevent him.’ ”

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