23 May 2018, Wednesday, 14:15
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Yury Khashchevatski: Mothballs Imparted Their Odour to Drazdy

This system is about to collapse.

The less witnesses of historical events remain among us, the oftener these gaps in the mind are patched by official propaganda. One of the brightest examples is the topic of a brilliant Soviet past, which is constantly used by both Lukashenka and Putin.

In his latest investigation tireless myth buster and blogger Maksim Mirovich wonders whether this "golden age of the USSR" really existed.

Charter97.org decided to ask a well-known Belarusian film director, Yury Khashchevatski, the person who witnessed different times of our history, about it. And at the same time to learn how to find a cure for those poisoned with information propaganda.

- You were born in 1947, witnessed different times and lived in different cities of the former USSR. Did you notice any plenty worth nostalgia?

- There was neither plenty nor the "golden age". A rampant poverty was there. It was the time when one could do nothing and get a meaningless salary. It was possible to survive on this money, but no one could manage to save money to buy something good. The car was a luxury. I was among those who could only dream about it. A good library was also a luxury: there were heavy-handed restrictions to buy and read books. A person who could go to the Film Centre and bring someone else to watch a film produced by Fellini was considered a "God". One should have "high-ranking" friend in the film-making union to watch 8½ or La Dolce Vita.

But there were other things. People looked for a toilet paper, spoiled chickens and other things.

Therefore, when my peers or older people say it was a "good" time, there is only one explanation: they were young, healthy and beautiful. Memories of the past make people tell about a "golden age". And the true life in the USSR was mean. And it was the time when social elevators were tied to ideology. if you wanted to build a career, you had to join the Party and did everything it required. It looked rather miserable.

I had a filmed evidence of how people were standing in the queue for bread in the early 1980s. In Minsk! Operator and I went along the queue. There were more a hundred people there!

I'd like to show these shots to those who tell about lush life during the USSR. This video will surely become the part of my new film to show the young how it was.

– How would you describe the Redland?

– Total hypocrisy. Absolutely all the people, especially in my environment, realized and knew that the power was ignorant, that thepower was stupid. Nobody believed in the Soviet power. But everyone voted at the polling-centers. People wore a double face. It bites today. Since the power has changed, but the hypocrisy has remained.

For another thing, a lot of technical and technological areas were closed. Young people, who believe in fairy tales about the USSR, should be given an opportunity to work with the computer EU-41 or EU-42. At that, there were processors і386 and і486 in the world, but they were out-of-range for the Soviet man.

The USSR was a country, where, in fact, everything Western was valued above all: shoes, suits, clothes. It was impossible to get them. It is strange that someone would say it was "golden time." People were running without pausing for breath to buy Italian boots. Everyone was waiting for something to be out for sale.

The country could not produce anything original. The Soviet stuff had one main feature: there was no quality in it. Everything was done clumsily, unfashionably and ugly.

– Where do the nostalgic memories come from then?

– The authorities intentionally inculcate the myth of "good Soviet life", when all the people pretended to work, and the state pretended to pay them. This idiom was born in the Soviet times. The saying "plush job" appeared at that time.

The Soviet times were terrible. They made people lose a liking to work qualitatively, put life into work, fight for their reputation. And they taught us how to steal. The whole country was a country of smugglers. I want to remind you Mikhail Zhvanetsky’s phrase: "One has what he guards from scathe." Those, who worked at the factory of non-ferrous rolled products, were steeling wires, those, who worked at the bakery – bread.

The whole country lived like that. It was an absolute debauchery. And all those immoral features of the Soviet leaders are the legacy of that time. It was at that time that Lukashenka learned to lie, live not according to the law, "boost" everything possible, live under the guise of empty slogans. That USSR moved to Drazdy with him.

That's what it was: hypocrisy, the loss of people's creative power and morality.

– How did you feel that "the ice broke up" and the Redland was close to its end?

– I am lucky that I have lived for a long time and I remember how it started long before 1991.

I remember the time when Stalin died. A lot of people were pretending to "cry", but when they were at home, they were whispering in the kitchens that they started to breathe with relief.

I remember how Khrushchev was dismissed. And there were jokes about Khrushchev, he was a little laughed at.

After that, there was a "freeze" when Brezhnev came. It was especially felt in 1968, during the events in Czechoslovakia. And later, when the story with Afghanistan began and the 1980 Olympics were boycotted, the regime, although it seemed strong, turned sour.

When Chernenko was appointed general secretary, it became clear that the regime would soon collapse. That was the time when they started to laugh openly and out loud. Everyone laughed at the power, without a backward glance. At Andropov’s time, the people were still shrinking from time to time, although even then the fresh air was already felt. And when Chernenko took the helm, they started to laugh at all that, calling those times a "half a decade of lush funerals." Then it became clear, at that moment: it would not survive.

And when Gorbachev came and the era of glasnost began, then it became clear to everyone that the USSR would collapse soon. The system was coming to an end.

I remember the August 1991 putsch. Friends and acquaintances keep me honest: when I looked at those guys with trembling hands on the screen, I said – three days to them, no more. So it turned out.

Then, in 1991, people did not let to drive them into a standing stall: they remembered too well what had happened in 74 years. Repression, restrictions, the Holodomor led to the fact that people simply hated the Soviet power at that time.

I think that in 1941, the Red Army dropped back so quickly to Moscow and there were so many prisoners, because it simply did not want to defend the power. For a long time, the power was hiding the truth about popular uprisings against the Soviet government in Tambov province, about the riot and the shooting of workers in Novocherkassk in 1962 and other protests. Riots were brewing for a long time, and in 1991, the critical amount dismissed that power.

Another thing is that the dragon named the USSR left behind it the souls scorched by hypocrisy, meanness and opportunism. The current Belarusian authorities started the game there, and Lukashenka is still holding on to it.

The most characteristic features of the USSR, coupled with the possibility of deceiving on crony "privatization," gathered in one place, as in a reserve. The Soviet collective farm Haradets moved to Drazdy, built a naphthalene museum of the favorite era there, and makes tours around it. The myth of the "golden age" is broadcast throughout the country from there.

– How to free people from such illusions?

– Chekhov once called to "squeeze a slave out of youself", so now it is necessary to "squeeze" the Soviet man out of everyone. Do not regret about that era. It is just a myth that hides a very unsightly picture.

And I want to say to young people: we should dream not about what happened, but what will happen. It used to be bad. And maybe it will become very good and interesting.

I assure you, each person has his own special talent. And only modern, free society gives a chance to realize it. It is better to think about how to make your talent visible, and not to listen to nostalgic relatives and old stool pigeons who do not believe in their stories and do realize how it used to be in reality.