If the collective sacrifice during the Second World War cemented Russian identity in the absence of consensus, then the attack on Ukraine does the same but to a different end. The new ‘we’ feels inescapable, whether one supports Putin or opposes him. A leading Russian poet reflects on guilt and responsibility.
Russian poet, novelist and journalist. Founder of the literary website Colta.ru, closed down by the Russian state in March 2022. Her most recent works in English translation are the novel In Memory of Memory (translated by Sasha Dugdale, 2021) and the collections War of the Beasts and the Animals (translated by Sasha Dugdale, 2021) and The Voice Over (2021).
Contemporary Russia between past and past
Twenty-five years after the USSR’s collapse, writes Maria Stepanova, history has turned into a kind of minefield, a realm of constant, traumatic revision. As a result, Russia is living in a schizoid present where the urgent need for a new language is far from being met.