13 March 2014
Source: HRO.org (info)
Svetlana Gannushkina, Chair of the Civic Assistance Committee and member of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, on the events affecting Crimea and its residents.
I'm not going to write about how disgraceful Russia's invasion of the region is, or about my sense of shame, as that goes without saying.
This is how I see it: they are dissatisfied with their Ukraine and, from the look of it, they have every right to be. But they don't want the actual, real Russia, but instead a Russia they have dreamt up, or which lives on in their memories, which our people always see through rose-tinted spectacles.
My favourite quotation from Chekhov's The Steppe is the following:
"From this conversation Yegorushka gathered that all his new acquaintances, in spite of the differences of their ages and their characters, had one point in common which made them all alike: they were all people with a splendid past and a very poor present. Of their past they all - every one of them - spoke with enthusiasm; their attitude to the present was almost one of contempt. The Russian loves recalling life, but he does not love living. Yegorushka did not yet know that, and before the stew had been all eaten he firmly believed that the men sitting round the cauldron were the injured victims of fate." 
Similarly, the people living in Crimea long for the past due to their aggrieved present.
The worst thing is not that this past was not wonderful either, but that it simply does not exist. Present-day Russia no longer resembles the Soviet Union they crave in any shape or form.
 Translation by Constance Garnett, taken from http://www.online-literature.com/anton_chekhov/1249/
Translated by Ian Mansbridge
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