Aleksey Tolstoy (not to be confused with Leo Tolstoy, neither are they directly nor closely related), a well-known Soviet writer, a novelist, a journalist and a poet (find more here), who lived between 1883 and 1945 (WW2 ended in 1945), once said:
“There are two Russes. *
The first one is Kievan Russ, rooted in the World culture, in the European culture at the very least. This Russ recognized the ideas of good, honor, freedom and justice for what they were recognized by the whole Western World.
But there is a second Russ – the Moscovian. This is the Russ of taiga **, it is Mongolian, animal and wild. This Russ took up bloody despotism and wild rage as its national ideals. This Moscovian Russ has always been, is and will be in complete negation of everything European and will be Europe’s arch enemy”
Personally I could not agree more! But what surprised me the most was that this quote came about FROM a Russian person, an intellectual living and working IN Russia, DURING the Communist rule. FIY, the Soviet Union was created in 1922. Therefore, I think it is safe to conclude that intellectuals, people who are not indifferent, who stand up for the ideals and morals of a peaceful and dignified society, have always seen what Russia truly is. But if so, how could we have come up to what is happening now with Ukraine? Guess, not too many intellectuals out there after all…
* Russ – is basically the ancient name for Russia. Historically, modern Russia (including the former Soviet Union) originated from Kievan Russ, a Slavic state that occupied territories between the Baltic and the Black See in the 9th – 13 cent AD. You an read more in these Wikipedia articles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rus_(name) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kievan_Rus’.
**Taiga – a vast territory of pine forest in the Northern part of Russia, Canada, Alaska, known for freezing temperatures, short summers and breathtaking nature. Wiki article here. In Soviet background, taiga was a dark, cold, uninhabited place, a symbol of illiteracy, paganism, wildness, the opposite of civilization.