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One who rules the narrative is the winner

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

Strasbourg. I’m checking in at a hotel (keep your fingers crossed for my “diplomatic mission” to come off!)

The guy at the reception, repeating my surname:

– Ukrainian? – You Ukrainian?

– Yup! – І answered, handing out my passport.

– Togda mozhno govorit po russki? (Can I speak Russian then)

Perhaps, a kind of change must have occurred on my face, even in my eyes, under the mask that almost an instantaneous yell followed:

– Ya nie iz Rassiyii! Ya s Gruziyi (I’m not from Russia! I’m from Georgia!) – Ya was ochen kharasho ponimayu! (I understand you very well!) (He really speaks with the Georgian accent)

From now on, to say one is “iz Rassyii” (from Russia) is equally as embarrassing as to say one comes “from Germany” back in the 1940s.

And that’s the reason the “kharoshi russkiye” (“good Russians”) confessions have already started their avalanche (or campaign) in the European media: they suffer so much under the yoke of Putin, all of them are so much against the war (and the EU sees a lot of them, Russian migrants). The editor of one of the leading European newspapers has just written to me that he had had enough of those pathetic Russian voices when the blood was spilled everywhere. But as for the Ukrainian voices – to speak of the deeds of those “tormented under Putin’s yoke” on the Ukrainian land – they are still too weak; now it is “images” that most often speak on our behalf.

In this regard, my enormous request: people, write your diaries, record everything you have been through given half a chance. It has a therapeutic effect, and it is indispensable for our victory: if even now they are starting to “shout” us down, then later it might get even worse. And from the ultimate historic perspective, one who rules the narrative is the winner – actions only are insufficient for victory. Be like Fortinbras – not like Hamlet.

Hold tight, us all!

March 7, 09:57 pm

Ukrainian text by Oksana Zabuzhko, Ukraine’s leading contemporary author and philosopher. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Mar 13, 2022

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