January 25, 2023

"[I]t wasn’t hard to spot Russian literature in the discourse surrounding the war—particularly in Vladimir Putin’s repeated invocations of the 'Russian World' ('Russkiy Mir')..."

"... a concept popularized by Kremlin-linked 'philosophers' since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Russian World imagines a transnational Russian civilization, one extending even beyond the 'triune Russian nation' of 'Great Russia' (Russia), 'Little Russia' (Ukraine), and 'White Russia' (Belarus); it is united by Eastern Orthodoxy, by the Russian language, by the 'culture' of Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky—and, when necessary, by air strikes. In early March, I wasn’t altogether surprised to learn that a number of Ukrainian literary groups, including pen Ukraine, had signed a petition calling for 'a total boycott of books from Russia in the world!'—one that entailed not just cutting financial ties with publishers but ceasing to distribute or promote any books by Russian writers. Their rationale was similar to the one I’d encountered in 2019: 'Russian propaganda is woven into many books which indeed turns them into weapons and pretexts for the war.'..."

Writes Elif Batuman in "Rereading Russian Classics in the Shadow of the Ukraine War How to reckon with the ideology of 'Anna Karenina,' 'Eugene Onegin,' and other beloved books" (The New Yorker).

It was “Anna Karenina” that first got me hooked on Russian novels.... As an only child, going back and forth between my divorced parents (both scientists) during the school year, and spending summers with family in Turkey, I grew up surrounded by different, often mutually exclusive opinions and world views. I came to pride myself on a belief in my own objectivity, a special ability to hold in my mind each side’s good points, while giving due weight to the criticisms. 

I fell in love with “Anna Karenina” because of how clearly it showed that no character was wrong—that even the unreasonable-seeming people were doing what appeared right to them, based on their own knowledge and experiences. As a result of everyone’s having different knowledge and experiences, they disagreed, and caused each other unhappiness. And yet, all the conflicting voices and perspectives, instead of creating a chaos of non-meaning, somehow worked together to generate more meaning....

49 comments:

Big Mike said...

“Mir” is Russian for “peace,” so Putin is really invoking something akin to the Pax Romana (or more recently Pax Americana). I doubt he will have any more luck than the Romans (or the USA).

Sebastian said...

"all the conflicting voices and perspectives, instead of creating a chaos of non-meaning, somehow worked together to generate more meaning"

Maybe there's more behind the paywall, but--is that the ideology of Anna K? If so, we can't have that--not in Russia, not in Ukraine, and certainly not in the progressive West.

But wasn't the anti-feminist ideology of Anna K that adulterous women get their comeuppance?

Seamus said...

I recall a scene in the Disney movie, "Miracle of the White Stallions," in which the protagonist, Alois Podhajsky, head of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, is sitting with a friend and fellow Wehrmacht officer listening to music on the record player. Neither is a supporter of the Nazis, and the friend is playing a recording of a piece by Mendelsohn. He observes that the Nazis don't approve of Mendelsohn (because of his Jewish heritage), but inasmuch as the Third Reich is on its last legs, perhaps people of taste can enjoy him again. I recall thinking at the time that I could understand an ideology that condemned the works of Schoenberg, but Mendelsohn? If nothing else clued you in that National Socialism was a batshit crazy ideology, the fact that it wouldn't allow you to enjoy Mendelsohn should be enough to let you know very early on.

Hearing that there are people telling me I shouldn't enjoy Russian literature (and I would presume they'd say the same about Russian music) is enough to tell me that they're batshit crazy, and to call into doubt anything else they have to say.

Amadeus 48 said...

A friend of mine who is a noted Russian scholar points out that all the important information in Anna Karenina is in the subordinate clauses.

Anna's train ride at the end is a study in alienation and misanthropy.

Quaestor said...

Big Mike is correct.

Notice that Althouse's title is within double quotes -- a case of she said he said she said. Who did the original translation, Hillary Clinton?

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Sylwester said...

From the first paragraph of Batuman's article:
... In 2014, security forces had killed a hundred protesters at Kyiv’s Independence Square, and Russian-backed separatists had declared two mini-republics in the Donbas.

It's still a mystery who "killed a hundred protesters". YouTube provides an excellent, 57-minute video that tries unsuccessfully to solve the mystery. The first people on the Square to be shot by the snipers were Ukrainian security forces trying to control the mob.

Although the video is almost an hour long, I recommend watching at least the first five minutes, in order to see what the "peaceful protest" looked like.

The so-called Maidan Massacre was blamed glibly on Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, who subsequently was compelled to flee from his elected position and from Ukraine itself.

Yanukovych had been elected in an election that European Union observers found to be fair. A major reason for his election is that he won the votes of Ukraine's Russian-majority regions overwhelmingly.

After Yanukovych was blamed for the massacre and was compelled to flee, those Russian-majority regions began organizing referendums to secede from Ukraine and to join Russia. Such a referendum succeeded in Crimea. (Russia did not "seize" Crimea. Rather, Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine.)

The other Russian-majority regions were prevented from conducting similar referendums. That was the fundamental cause of the current war in Ukraine.

=======

The Maidan protests were encouraged and secretly supported by the Obama Administration, in which the "point man on Ukraine" was Vice President Joe Biden.

One outcome of the Maidan Massacre and the overthrow of President Yanukovych was that Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden was hired onto the Board of Directors of Ukraine's major natural-gas company, at a salary of about $85,000 a month.

=======

Recommended reading:
Evidence of US-Backed Coup in Kiev, an article written by Joe Lauria and published on the Consortium News website.

Narr said...

Toynbee thought that Russian Orthodoxy formed its own civilization, related to but separate from Western Christendom. It's not a new or even particularly pernicious way of looking at the issue of Russia's place in the world.

Insty likes the formula "Barbarians with ballerinas" and there's some truth in that; Nabokov wrote TTE that Russia was a hybrid of the most refined high culture and the police state.

The Greats of Russian Literature have never done it for me personally. Love the music, though.

Readering said...

I'm against the invasion, but God bless anyone who can unlock a thirst for Russian imperialism by wading through AK and BK in translation in 2023.

Ann Althouse said...

"Notice that Althouse's title is within double quotes -- a case of she said he said she said."

I'm quoting an author who is quoting Putin.

There's a Wikipedia article "Russian world":

"The "Russian world" (Russian: Русский мир, romanized: Russkiy mir, lit. 'Russian world', 'Russian order', 'Russian community'; Latin: Pax Rossica, Pax Russica) is the concept of social totality associated with Russian culture. Russkiy mir as a concept comprises the core culture of Russia and is in interaction with the diverse cultures of Russia through traditions, history and the Russian language. It comprises also the Russian diaspora with its influence in the world.[1][2] The concept is based on the notion of "Russianness", and both have been considered ambiguous.[3] The "Russian world" and awareness of it arose through Russian history and was shaped by its periods.[4]

"In the 21st century the doctrine can be said to hold: that this Russky Mir "has a common political centre (Moscow), a common spiritual centre (Kyiv as the "mother of all Rus"), a common language (Russian), a common church (the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate), and a common patriarch (the Patriarch of Moscow), who works in 'symphony' with a common president/national leader (Vladimir Putin) to govern this Russian world, as well as upholding a common distinctive spirituality, morality, and culture."[5]"

Ann Althouse said...

much more at the link

Ann Althouse said...

If you're struggling with the translation of the word, here's this from "What's in a Name? - NASA History Division:

"For a Russian, the word "Mir" holds meaning, feeling, and history. It is sometimes translated into English as "world," or as "peace," or as "village," but a single-word translation misses its full significance."

rcocean said...

I loved Tolstoy, dostoveski, etc. keeping all those russian names straight was a real problem though.

As for Ukraine-Russia, I'm beginning to think Ukrainian indpendence was a mistake. I don't want to spent the next 20 years, fighting over "Who owns the Donbas" and sending $25 Billion in aid to Kiev every year.

It makes much more sense, given the closeness of the Ukrainian and russian peoples, for these two countries to have a mutual defense treaty and be closely aligned. Trashing Russian in the Ukraine, makes about as much sense as Belgium getting rid of the French language and literature. Or the Irish going back to 100 percent Galic.

Bob Boyd said...

How to reckon with the ideology of 'Anna Karenina,' 'Eugene Onegin,' and other beloved books

When you boil it down, this is TDS.

narciso said...

Andrew bloch nee belys petersburg set in 1905 shows the slavophile impulse more clearly in the magical realist frame

narciso said...

Puskhin wrote about the steppes tolstoy about the caucasus doestoevevsky was the only slavophile in that crew.

Basta! said...

"a single translation misses its full significance" because there are two separate Russian words involved here. This fact has been obscured by spelling reforms, before which it was immediately obvious that МИРЪ (universe, the planet earth, the human race, a community of peasants) and МIРЪ (lack of conflict, peace, calm, agreement), while homonyms, come from different roots. But then the character I was dropped across the board in favor of И, with the hard sign (Ъ) at the end of most nouns done away with also, so today we're left with the spelling МИР for both words.

Roger Sweeny said...

@ Mike Sylwester - You weaken your case when you write "(Russia did not "seize" Crimea. Rather, Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine.)."

Pro-Russian troops had occupied Crimea BEFORE the referendum. The occupation was in February, 2014 and the referendum was in March. Crimea had indeed been "seized". Lots of anti-Putin and anti-Russian people boycotted the referendum, but my reading of the evidence is that most of the people of Crimea are ethnically Russian and indeed preferred being part of Russia to being part of Ukraine.

However, it's not as if the people in Crimea voted overwhelmingly to be part of Russia and Vladimir Putin then said, "Well, since you insist, I will make you part of Russia."

Mike Sylwester said...

Correction to my own comment at 11:19 AM

YouTube provides an excellent, 57-minute video ...

Roger Sweeny said...

Dostoevsky was a great novelist but he, like many Russians, thought all Slavs were one family, with Russia as the big brother who should basically tell them what to do. And for the good of the family, "Constantinople must be ours"--the title of an essay he wrote.

n.n said...

Obama/Biden's Slavic Spring with "benefits" in the woke (sic) of Obama's second Iraq War and world war conducted with an Iranian proxy, financed, in part, through overridden claims.

"Mir" refers to a "Russian World", as much as "progress" has a positive connotation and denotation.

n.n said...

Kyiv (Kiev) Ukraine Tourist Information

Kyiv (Kiev) Founders Monument
...
Legend says that Kiev (Kyiv) was founded by three brothers Kyy, Khoryv, Shchek and their sister Lybid. To celebrate the 1500th anniversary of Kiev, on the 22nd May 1982 a forged copper monument was erected in Navodnytskyy Park next to the river Dnipro. It was made by a sculptor V.Z Boroday and an architect called M.M. Feshchenko.

tim in vermont said...

Not too long ago you blogged a story how how Russia was trying to erase Ukrainian art, when in fact, it's the other way around. but that's bog-standard Goebbels, always accuse the other side of whatever it is that you are doing. Democrats live by this dictum.

Quaestor said...

So mir and mundus are related? Russian usually borrows more often from Greek than Latin.

Quaestor said...

"For a Russian, the word "Mir" holds meaning, feeling, and history. It is sometimes translated into English as "world," or as "peace," or as "village," but a single-word translation misses its full significance."

When in trouble, Putin always falls back on Russian Orthodoxy -- Holy Moscow, the second Rome, and all that crusading Romanov stuff.

Lurker21 said...

Russia is a missionary country, a country that believes it has a national purpose. So was Germany. So were England and France. So for a time was Japan. But who has been more of a missionary country, who has had a greater sense of a national idea that ought to be spread around the world, than the United States?

There was always a contradiction with "American exceptionalism." If we successfully spread the American idea around the world, we aren't an exception anymore, so who are we, what is our national purpose, and what holds us together? Some of those countries that now espouse the idea that we thought was our own may be better at democracy or freedom than we are and inclined to chastise us, and some of those countries may be better at competing economically than we are.

Two recent developments: 1) The increasing number of articles saying that we should "learn from Germany" how to deal with our past, and 2) the debate over whether "civilizational states" like China and India will follow the same imperial path as the nation states of the West. I think China and India probably will go down that road and China is already well underway, and I worry about what becomes of America if we think -- as we may already think -- that our history is as dark and damning as Germany's.

Narr said...

The idea of a Russian-free literary culture zone is absurdly infantile.

Which doesn't mean some goobers won't try to make it a reality.

And why leave Russian music or cinema out of the bonfire?

The dream of nekul'turnyy persons of no consequence.





Roger Sweeny said...

@ Quaestor - Russia is actually the "Third Rome", Constantinople being the Second. From wikipedia:

"Moscow, third Rome (Russian: Москва, третий Рим; Moskva, tretiĭ Rim) is a theological and political concept asserting Moscow as the successor to ancient Rome, with the Russian world [Russkiy Mir!] carrying forward the legacy of the Roman Empire. The term "third Rome" refers to a historical topic of debate in European culture: the question of the successor city to the "first Rome" (Rome, within the Western Roman Empire) and the "second Rome" (Constantinople, within the Eastern Roman Empire)."

tim in vermont said...

those Russians moved into Crimea without firing a shot, and the same political officials remained in office after this event. In the case of Ukraine's forcible annexation of Ukraine, they moved in in 1995 and arrested leaders who were working to keep Crimea independent, but the fact was that Crimea was so pro-Russian, that it simply absorbed these new leaders and continued in the pro-Russian ways until 14 years later, Russia corrected the Ukrainian annexation.

Pro-Kiev people will say that Crimea voted for independence from Russia, but they also voted for independence from Ukraine, voted for complete independence, but Ukrainian apologists pretend that this vote never happened, and Ukraine used its larger army, and the law of the jungle to annex Crimea anyway. After 14 years, it was unable to enforce this, so Crimea returned to control by Moscow, where it had been for 200 years.

If the US is supposed to risk WW3 to enforce Ukraine's annexation of Crimea based on 200 year old Russian imperialism, maybe we should start first here at home and start settling some of the land grievances of our own aboriginal populations before we risk nuclear war worrying about borders thousands of miles from home.

Robert Cook said...

"...that's bog-standard Goebbels, always accuse the other side of whatever it is that you are doing. Democrats live by this dictum."

Ha! I see what you did there. Good one!

tim in vermont said...

"When in trouble, Putin always falls back on Russian Orthodoxy"

When in trouble, Kiev. always falls back on victimhood, even though its national heroes are responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles, you know, ethnically cleansing that tranche of Poland that they receive in the Hitler Stalin Pact which now must be considered the sacred soil of Ukraine forever.

Speaking of ethnic cleansing, now the Ukrainians are scouring ethnic Hungarian areas and conscripting the young men there to fight in a brutal holding action in Bakhmut, where Kiev's forces have suffered massive casualties due to their refusal to surrender a tactically untenable city. They are sending minorities there to die, killing two birds with one stone. It's not just fetishizing nazi symbolism, as some Kiev apologists claim, it's naziism.

https://hhrf.org/on-our-radar/hungarians-in-ukraine/

The game has not changed since WWI, and probably way earlier than that, and the only defense a person has against the firehose of propaganda we are being fed is a knowledge of history, and to turn the sources of propaganda off. The US wants to be the sole power in the world, and Russia and China stand in our way. That's why we wanted this war. The Obama Administration was a respite of sorts, but still we engineered the coup in Kiev at that time, Biden was in charge of Ukraine then. The second Obama was out the door, the anti-Putin propaganda returned full blast. I am not surprised that the Democrats fall for it, but it surprises me that conservatives who watched them lie about Trump for years fall for the same tricks.

Kai Akker said...

Bob Boyd, 12:04 +1

Consider the source. I struggled through, the only salient fact seeming to be the "queer vs hetero" information. Seemed to be a good illustration of The New Yorker's other recent article a la Althouse about the degeneration of literary criticism.

Candide said...

Dostoyevsky family roots are from Poland.

Pushkin hinted at being a descendant of a black slave from Peter the Great household. Pushkin portraits clearly show some African traits. He wrote historical novel "the Moor of Peter the Great", and there is a Soviet-time movie "How Czar Peter the Great married off his Moor" (with Russian actor in blackface, watch at your own risk).

Kai Akker said...

--- the Consortium News website.

@Mike Sylwester: super lefties? Never found an anti-American claim they didn't adore? From In These Times, backed by the worst of the left, Noam Chomsky et al.?

Victoria Nuland gives me the creeps, but so do those people.

Ukraine is hopelessly corrupt, a financial basket case, and we are supporting them to the hilt, questionable policy on its own merits but even smellier thanks to Biden Family Inc.

Russia is great but Putin is Putin and I don't want to take his side like some here.

But as for Russian literature, the post's topic, there was an article published just a couple weeks ago that gives a different level of reading to at least one of those authors:

https://www.plough.com/en/topics/culture/literature/tolstoys-narratives-of-faith

If you want Dostoevsky: https://newcriterion.com/issues/2021/1/fyodor-dostoevsky-philosopher-of-freedom

Two by Gary Saul Morson.

Kai Akker said...

--- The US wants to be the sole power in the world, and Russia and China stand in our way. That's why we wanted this war.

Tim in Vermont, please run for office on this viewpoint. Let's see how many votes you can get favoring Chinese and Russian maneuvering over the U.S.

Mike Sylwester said...

Roger Sweeney at 12:39 PM
@ Mike Sylwester - You weaken your case when you write "(Russia did not "seize" Crimea. Rather, Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine.)." Pro-Russian troops had occupied Crimea BEFORE the referendum. The occupation was in February, 2014 and the referendum was in March.

Long before the events of 2014, Russia maintained a Naval base and other facilities in Sevastopol, Crimea, with the consent of the Ukrainian Government.

In 2014, the major disorders were caused by Ukrainian zealots in Kiev However, there were disorders also in Crimea, especially in Sevastopol. In response to those disorders in Sevastopol, some Russian forces were shifted from the naval base into downtown Sevastopol to maintain order there. (This is what some people cause "the Russian occupation of Crimea".)

This peace-keeping action did not affect the referendum.

The Russian-majority population had voted overwhelmingly for Viktor Yanukovych to become Ukraine's President. After Ukrainian zealots in Kiev compelled President Yanukovych to flee from his elected position and from Ukraine, all the Russian-majority regions (which had voted for Yanukovych overwhelmingly) took actions to organize referendums to in order to vote to secede from Ukraine and to join Russia.

The only region where such a referendum was allowed was Crimea, which did vote to secede.

If referendums had been conducted in the other Russian-majority regions, then they too would have voted overwhelmingly to secede.

=====

The Ukrainian zealots in Kiev who would not allow elected President Yanukovych to govern normally brought the current war onto themselves.

They should have allowed President Yanukovych to govern normally and then should have tried to vote him out of office in the next presidential election.

The Obama Administration should not have encouraged and secretly supported the Ukrainian zealots in Kiev.

narciso said...

Ignorance is strength, this is what batuman councils, lets not try to understand our adversary because feelings are what matter, if you don't read lermontov or tolstoy, or pushkin you wont understand what drives them

n.n said...

The only region where such a referendum was allowed was Crimea, which did vote to secede.
...
The Obama Administration should not have encouraged and secretly supported the Ukrainian zealots in Kiev.


The Slavic Spring was part of Obama's World War Spring series. That said, democracy dies in darkness, and, they hoped, through a denial of essential services. Ironically, Kiev is not only fielding an illegitimate regime, but an apartheid regime. Does Ukraine have diamonds and other natural resources lusted after by transnational special and peculiar interests?

narciso said...

now I understand zelensky's position in part, look at what happened to petlura and then bandera, 30 years apart, or you can go back to the zaporizhian cossacks or the bulovin faction,

tim in vermont said...

"Ha! I see what you did there. Good one!"

I don't know which is worse, if you don't realize that you are supporting fascism, or you do.

Fascism is defined as an economic model where the state and large corporations govern a nation hand in glove, kind of like today. Google, Facebook, the mainstream media all support Democrats, and not just with lip service, but with action through their platforms and hundreds of millions of dollars. Democrats are using the police power of the state and prosecutorial discretion to punish political opponents and protect their own, and as for the war-like aspect, we have been invading country after country since the Soviet Union fell. All of the neocons have become Democrats now, even Bush and Cheney. Lindsay Graham is supporting Joe Biden.

tim in vermont said...

" Let's see how many votes you can get..."

How does that change the truth of anything I have said. Crimea, at the fall of the Soviet Union, voted for complete independence in a referendum that Ukraine refused to recognize, and now pretends never happened. Ukraine, threatening with its far larger army, forced Ukraine to change its constitution, which it did, under duress, but still maintained its independence as if it had never done it, which led to Ukraine passing a law annexing Crimea, without asking permission, and then Ukraine annexed it by force in 1995. Turned out that Ukraine could not keep a territory that had been ruled out of Moscow for 200 years for more than 14 years.

The illegitimate govt installed by US backed coup in 2014 has not been able to establish control over large parts of the country. The residents of DPR and LPR have fought them off for eight, well now nine years. If Kiev had popular support in these regions, this would have been impossible.

I don't really care if these are popular positions, I don't have the power of propaganda or the ability to create psy-ops to manipulate public opinion, but what I am saying is the truth. This is a war the US wanted. There is a video of Pompeo bragging about destabilizing Ukraine. McCain was in Euromaidan square cheering on a violent coup, which heavily relied on armed nazis to take over parliament by force.

tim in vermont said...

Why Ukraine was not allowed to dissociate into two separate ethnic regions by plebiscite the same way Czechoslovakia did is a question Kiev doesn't want you to think about. Kiev wants an ethnically pure Ukraine from border to border, even though the country was slapped together by decree from the Soviet Union with no input of the residents. Kiev shows this by still venerating Bandera, who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles in the Holocaust, which he did to ethnically purify the region of modern Ukraine that Hitler sliced off from Poland, and gave to Stalin as a bribe. This makes Bandera a national hero.

I don't want to have siding with these people on my conscience.

Lurker21 said...

Queer Tolstoy: A Psychobiography, a book, came out this month, so I guess Lev Nikolayevich won't be cancelled.

That topic came up back in college, but we figured it wasn't worth pursuing, let alone writing a book about it.

narciso said...

I was reading phillip elliots bio of putin it is very fair doesnt indulge in pop psychology or faux conspiracies it discusses this mindset in depth

Candide said...

There is a common feature to all presentation of Ukrainian conflict in US media. It is taken for granted that Kievan regime is Good and Russian regime is Bad. Copious facts are presented to illustrate Russian regime Badness, but no facts are presented to show Kievan regime Goodness.

Russian regime offences against Liberty and other universal Human Values are listed extensively, but Kievan regime achievements in the same areas are not. Is it not worth to look at Kievan regime true record on Human Rights, Freedoms and other universal Human Values?

Russian regime losses at the front are discussed in all the dubious details, but Kievan regime losses are completely ignored. Is it not worth to look at Kievan regime record on on the frontlines?

Likewise, Russian Literary Imperialists (Pushkin etc.) are brought to account here, but what do Kievan regime supporters propose to replace them with? Who are the true native Literary and Historical Heroes of the Kievan regime? Can we have some names and references, so we can look at their works?

Kai Akker said...

--- favoring Chinese and Russian maneuvering over the U.S.

That's the point I made that you are still missing, Tim. No one has clean hands. You comment as though this latest episode has occurred in a vacuum. You've decided on one event as your chicken and now every egg in sight comes from that one bird. It's a monomania.

Biff said...

"a concept popularized by Kremlin-linked 'philosophers' since the fall of the Soviet Union."

Notice the scare quotes around "philosophers."

It's not my intention to carry water for "Kremlin-linked philosophers," but I do wonder how they might stack up in credentials and hackery when compared to many inhabitants of Western academic departments.

Somehow, I doubt the "author" would use scare quotes to describe "philosophers" with more politically congenial views.

Richard said...

Putin came up through the KGB. Despite the occasional uniform, they are not soldiers. They are a combination of Gestapo and Stasi. Amoral, cunning, willing to kill their own in false flags. Hard to imagine somebody with that background and personality having some near-holy and emotional attachment to--sound the fanfare...Holy Mother Russia as a concept worth risking his own power and position. That it risked and killed the lives of others is a different and irrelevant concept to KGB types.
Still, Putin retired as a light colonel. There are lots of them who didn't make colonel, so perhaps he was inadequately ruthless. Too ruthless? Obsessed with Holy Mother Russia and his efficiency reports were not up to the next promotion?
Never met the guy and, given their training in deceit it probably wouldn't have made any difference, so i'm not in a position to say for sure, but some pie-in-sky plan with enormous risks doesn't seem like the answer here.
That said, it's possible Putin and his ilk think classical Russian lit will cause the readers to get the warm fuzzies for Russia. As, perhaps, early twentieth century westerns might have impressed some Europeans. And maybe some Uke lit types think so, too.
Meantime "hej sokoly"

Robert Cook said...

"I don't know which is worse, if you don't realize that you are supporting fascism, or you do."

Uh, neither. You seem not to realize that your accusation re: the Democrats" "...that's bog-standard Goebbels, always accuse the other side of whatever it is that you are doing. Democrats live by this dictum", is and has long been standard US national policy, whichever party has been in the White House. Heck, the lie starts with our post-WWII re-designation of our War Department as the "Department of Defense."