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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Vladyslav TROITSKY: “If we don’t work on our soul, the demons of post-Soviet slavery start eating us”

23 April, 2014 - 17:29

Vladyslav Troitsky is a founder of the theater Dakh and ethno-ensemble DakhaBrakha. For several years in a row he has held the GOGOLFEST. Over many years Troitsky has been maintaining both Dakh and DakhaBrakha. Over the past few months Troitsky has been the artistic director of Kyiv Municipal Theater of Opera and Ballet for Children and Youth, but he has recently left it.


You have left theater. Why?

“Because I understood that I stood no chances to do something there. This theater, like practically all institutions of the Ministry of Culture, is something frozen in mid-20th century, back in the time of the Soviet Union, a substance which is absolutely not meant for any innovation.

“What is the Ministry of Culture on the whole? In the 1930s it was founded as an ideological machine to fulfill a distinct function – to tell everyone how wonderfully we live.

“The Soviet Union does not exist anymore. The Ministry of Culture remains. Since it does not have any ideological function, the purpose of existence of this huge governmental body is not clear.

“It turned out that everything it controls, i.e., beautiful untouchables, like theaters and choruses, has privatized the right to tell what the spiritual ties of our country are.

“For instance, I think that the Veriovka Choir, Dumka, and the Virsky Ensemble can perform somewhat different, more modern functions. But no, they say, leave us alone, we are ‘sacred cows.’ These ‘sacred cows’ cannot be changed. They cannot even be touched. They must always exist and receive huge funding. Someone always owes something to them, but they never owe anything to anyone – they, thank God, are giving us something with their spiritual heritage.

“Therefore the innovation I proposed when I was in the theater was not taken up. I wanted to invent a new space, so that it was truly a theater for modern children who are ready to watch not only Nutcacker, but some modern works with certain technology, so that the students of Kyiv Mohyla Academy could visit it too. I offered to name this theater Skovoroda Center and create several grounds. But it was rejected.”

In your opinion, does Ukrainian society need these, like you said, “sacred cows”?

“You see, sometimes at a certain point of time a person gets exhausted. It does not depend on age, rather on talent, which comes and goes. This is the nature of humankind. You cannot do anything about this. And a certain period of time is given for a person not to take the head’s chair forever. No matter how wonderful you are, one day you will have to leave.

“This system does not work in Ukraine. Why? Because the Ministry of Culture is a bureau of funeral services which serves the ‘memorial’ of the Soviet Union. No more, no less. With overgrown unthinkable staff and unclear functions. No matter how good the new minister will be, he won’t be able to do anything.

“For example, I have been unable to hold even one rehearsal, because the theater has an artistic council which rejected all my proposals. As an artistic director I was supposed to confirm the repertoire at the artistic council. There were five votes against mine one. For example, I wanted to stage the opera Alice in Ukrainian. They said it was not interesting. They said the music is incomprehensible. By the way, the music was composed by a very good Ukrainian composer.

“I proposed to stage a dancing show with a French choreographer. They told me that the theater shows only classic choreography works.”


How should the Ministry of Culture be reorganized?

“A ministry is a toolbar aimed to achieve certain purposes. To develop the functions of an instrument we need to understand what we are building. There is such a notion as development of a strategy of the state policy. None has ever worked on this in Ukraine. And the fact that a piece of our territory has been cut off and current events in the south-east of the country are the result of the lack of humanitarian strategy. All the time we get under the influence of someone else’s humanitarian strategy. We are not a subject in this process.

“Our powers that be on the whole do not perceive humanitarian policy as something important.

“I have invented and already proposed the minister of culture to found the civic movement ‘committee of state security.’

“I would ask the power to ponder over the humanitarian policy. If it does not happen, we will lose everything. Because humanitarian strategy is not only culture, but also education. This is a readiness to meet the social demands which have strongly accumulated in our country.

“In theater I faced the infantile aggressive environment, which fills our so-called state system in culture, education, medicine, and in industry as well. The south-east is completely contaminated with this paternalist expectation, as if someone owes something to them. This can entail very serious problems, starting with social explosions.

“One of the functions of the committee I plan to create is positioning of the country at home and abroad. Who we are.

“Thank God, Maidan has taken place, and some hope and potential of a dream has emerged. A period of the hardest work will start later. And everyone with no exception will have to work. So far our strategy is as follows: to stand the day and stand the night.”


It turns out that Putin, unlike Ukrainian power, understood very distinctly what humanitarian policy is.

“Of course. He’s a KGB functionary. Russian culture gets a substantial funding. Therefore the culture figures have signed the letter in Putin’s support. Many people sincerely signed it because they feel as a part of a ‘great empire.’ It’s a natural thing in their system of coordinates.

“Of course it will have consequences. At some point Putin stopped being aware that he himself became a slave of technology he launched.

“Namely this thing is happening to Putin today, as well as to Dmitry Kiselev. They look at their reflections in the mirror, the people shout ‘bravo’ to them, and they think they are cool guys, simply miraculous, enough to try the patience of a saint.”

You were born in Ulan-Ude. This is Russia. Do you associate yourself with this “great country”?

“I associate myself with Russian culture. I was brought up on Dostoevsky, Turgenev… It’s silly to deny this.

“As for Russia, I have many friends there, with whom I communicate. Next week we are going on a tour to St. Petersburg.

“I have defined a strategy for myself that a zone for a dialog should be left. Especially for the people who feel lack of air in Russia.

“If our country had a correct strategy, Ukraine could have become a real ground for people who cannot realize themselves in Russia.”


According to public opinion polls over 70 percent of Russians support military intervention to Ukraine? How can it be possible?

“Well, they are under affect of certain propaganda which convinces them that here Banderites and fascists have taken power and are killing Russians. And they sincerely believe in this. Moreover, they have always had a complex about the collapse of the USSR, and that Ukraine is an independent state. And it is really not simple for them to overcome these complexes, which are also fuelled.

“But there are almost 30 percent of developed normal people. And around them the air of freedom is squeezing and they can feel it. And if we, Ukrainians in Ukraine, start labeling, saying that all Russians are fools, fascists, that there is Putinism and Hitlerism, and such kind of things, this will be a dialog of two parties who name one another a fool, which will lead to a fight after all.”


What should we do?

“We should act from the standpoint of a calm power. By and large, everything depends on us. If the number of mature and responsible people in Ukraine gets higher than some critical point, and Ukraine shows possibility of self-organization, cleans itself of everything that has stuck to it over 23 years and has been left from the Soviet Union, and shows its performance in spiritual sense, no Russia will do anything to us.

“Clearly, people who shout ‘for Russia’ have a low level of education. Some cliches are imbedded in their heads, and they start repeating them over and over. And it becomes impossible to argue with them. It is insane to enter the territory of debate with them. It is impossible to convince them. Therefore we need a humanitarian strategy which will make the society more mature and more intellectual, so that the number of people who treat life and themselves critically, who can assess information adequately, who could think, increases.

“Be it not for the annexation of the Crimea, it is not for sure that the Ukrainian society would have consolidated so much. Maybe everything would have given way to a sadly corrupted story.

“No matter how paradoxical it would sound, the story with the Crimea and the south-east of Ukraine continues to consolidate the people.

“Every second we must be thinking what we should do next. Every second we should be working on projecting of our future. If we don’t work on our soul, the demons of infantile post-Soviet slavery that are living inside of us will start eating us.

“We should not complain that this is not what Maidan stood for. We have gotten what we were standing for. The terrible and fearful one has left. Part of others has left too, but many have stayed.

“A question remains whether we want to spend the rest of our lives on fighting or building of a new country. We must show a new quality of creation, which Europe lacks, let alone Russia.

“We have a great energy of a dream – a dream about the future of the country. But the dream leaves soon, if you don’t put everyday merciless work in it.”

Do you agree with statements of most of experts that Russia will eventually collapse?

“This is a thankless question. Very complicated centrifugal processes are going to take place there. Clearly, Russia will come under growing influence of China. Chechnya is not Russia, but a country receiving a Putin’s rent. North Caucasus is not a simple story either. What is Tatarstan? What is Moscow, where Muslims make 30 percent of population?

“That is why the cementing idea of ‘great Russia,’ which is glued by the money of Gazprom, was created in Russia. But with time it will require more and more resources, and the control of the country will weaken. And they will have to do something with it.”

RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommends its citizens to refrain from trips abroad, because American special services might arrest them. Where does this anti-American hysteria come from?

“This is elementary psychology. They need an enemy.

“Over the past 7-10 years I have been observing the way Russian news shows are built. The first news is about some wonderful deed of Putin or Medvedev, who governed at the local level. The second one tells about something bad that has happened in Russia, but the power has solved everything. Next goes a terrible event of a global scale which takes place in America. Then a less terrible event happens in Europe. Sometimes they show pluses, but for the most part those are minuses. Further they tell about how cool the Russian army is. And all the news shows are almost the same. As a result, Putin and Russian people got a perfect illusion that they have a very strong army.

“That’s not true. They have nothing of that kind. It is much weaker than the American one.

“In Russia they can walk on broken roads and say that Russia is an economically prosperous country, compared to degrading Hungary or Greece. But compare Greek roads to the roads somewhere in Perm. They may say whatever they like, but it is better in Greece. What is bad for a Greek is a total luxury for a Russian person from province.”

By Oksana KLYMONCHUK, special to The Day