Last weekend, residents of the Russian capital became witness to another “grand” patriotic action on Borovitskaya Square in the heart of Moscow, as the installation of a monument to a great Prince of Kyiv (again: Kyiv!) Volodymyr Sviatoslavych, the Baptist of Rus’, has begun. The scale of the construction is gargantuan – it took 25 tons of bronze and required 20 huge metal structures (the height of Moscow’s Volodymyr is 17.5 meters) as well as several super-tractors. The sculptor is Salavat Shcherbakov; the initiator of this imperial idolatry is Russian Military Historical Society, well known for its aggressive and chauvinistic views.
What is the meaning of this action? The fact is that Putin and his entourage understand very well – when people (not only as an ethnic community, but as an open, inclusive spiritual integrity) know what they are fighting for and what they defend (the role of history is enormous here) – it is impossible to defeat such people. Spiritual resource is more important than material and military ones.
So, one can more or less understand why are Putin’s imperial officials sinking lots of money, reserves, time, and effort into vain attempts of proving the existence of “common history” between Russia and Ukraine. But unfathomable still is the scale, cynicism, stubbornness, and, let’s put it bluntly, the stupidity of these historical raiding efforts.
Wouldn’t Ukrainians know that our Grand Prince of Kyivan Rus’ Volodymyr the Baptist (having reigned between 980 and 1015) died in Berestov near Kyiv 132 years (!) before the “little village” of Moscow was ever founded (even if we acknowledge the official date of this event, 1147)? Another thing is that it seems that this war for the historical legacy, which Putin had waged long before 2014, is of minimal interest to our “elites.” How would you otherwise explain their regrettable indifference and passivity against Moscow’s imperial historical fraud? Is this only clear to the citizens of our country who are mature enough in historical terms (including Den/The Day’s readers, who don’t need any lectures on the subject after having read The Power of the Soft Sign, Return to Tsarhorod, and My sister Sofia...)? Someone “on top” seems in need of such lectures.
That clarity of our historical memory is our guarantee that all Kremlin’s efforts to raid and capture our history, to make Volodymyr the Baptist a “Russian” Prince will be futile. This would be the condition when we would be able to say: “Do not waste your strength, Moscow!” After all, the fields of military battles are always preceded and accompanied by the battlefields of ideology, information, and culture.
In general it can be argued that the action of Volodymyr Sviatoslavych’s “Russification” reflects precisely today’s Russia, its problems, phobias, and maladies. And then we should mention another monument that has been just erected in Russia (Orel) – to Ivan IV the Terrible. The local governor has declared with enthusiasm that this event was the evidence of “Russia’s return to its own sources.” And with that we can agree! If Volodymyr the Saint is an example of Russian raider attacks on Ukrainian heritage, Ivan the Terrible – who is a torturer, a kinslayer (contrary to what is believed by Orel’s governor, who is somehow sure that the famed “City on the Neva” existed in times of Ivan), a tyrant, a religious fanatic, the main character of the Great Troubles of 1605-12, and finally an inept commander (having lost Livonian war, which was very important for Muscovy) – he is really theirs, aboriginal, Moscow-Tatar. This is where the origins of the so-called Muscovy Rus’ lie. And truthful is known Russian film director Pavel Lungin (novayagazeta.ru): “Don’t evoke the spirit of a villain. Don’t play with fire. It’s a dangerous game which you yourselves can fall victim to.”