9 March 2022
by Lev Shlosberg
Once again we are living in another country. Our old life is gone and will never again be. In the new reality that has come and is still coming, what is and isn’t known is equally dangerous for people.
Never before in our life have there been such accursed days. We are now living in them. Living through this time and surviving it is going to be very hard. It’s going to take tremendous moral strength.
How are we to live?
Most important, we need to preserve ourselves the way we are. Preserve ourselves as free people in an unfree country. Not repudiate ourselves.
Bear responsibility for those who are dear to us and depend on us. Preserve human relations. Support our near and dear, our friends, all people of like mind.
Not alter our convictions, even if there is no possibility of expressing them anywhere. Not support the Z-evil [‘zло’ instead of ‘зло’ in the original Russian – ed.]. Not be complicit in the Z-evil.
It’s important to understand that we are right. We haven’t lost our minds, we’re seeing everything correctly. We haven’t mixed up good and Z-evil here and there.
The shock millions of people have experienced has been a tremendous trial for each person. We are filled with alarm for our near and dear.
I understand those who have left and will leave, especially to save their children. I respect and accept your choice. I hope it all turns out well, wherever you are. Start a new life.
I respect those who have stayed, whether out of purpose or compulsion. It’s going to be very hard for us.
The repressions are going to mount and may affect a great many people. Solidarity and support will help us preserve civil society even in the underground. Restraint and patience will help us act.
No one knows what forms of public oppositionist political work are going to be possible in this situation. But we will see.
We, the Yabloko party, will engage in legal politics in Russia as long as it is physically possible. We cannot defend all of you, but we can be by your side and with you. Live through this terrible time together.
All human rights and freedoms are leaving Russia — especially free speech. I sympathize with the journalists who were forced to stop or cease work. We did all we could.
My deepest respect and solidarity for the journalists who are continuing their professional work in these conditions. You are preserving the oxygen of truth for us all. Each of you is a citizen of the highest caliber.
Many feelings fill us. Getting a grip on them can be very complicated. It’s going to be harder for us than ever before in our life. But we should not despair.
History is doing its work. It cannot be stopped. Time is doing its work. It cannot be stopped. Life is doing its work. No one has ever been able to argue with any of these and no one ever will, no one will be able to withstand them. It’s impossible to change the direction time is moving in.
In these dramatic and tragic times, history is speeding up. No one is going to say now what is going to be, what is going to happen not just tomorrow but today, at any moment. We must not fall to our knees. We must survive and live this through.
History itself suggests that we not despair. We accept the time we find ourselves in and its Z-inister challenge. Yes, the political and social forces of Z-evil and good are unequal today. But all this means is that we are in the minority today. In the minority for now.
The main thing is that we exist. We have human dignity, an awareness that we are right, and an understanding of the force of history.
The beacon of time will inevitably push off from the point of insanity and swing back in the direction of reason. It is very important that each of us always be able to calmly tell ourselves: I stood with people, I did not betray myself, I did not commit z-evil, I did what had to be done.
And we will see what happens.
Translated by Marian Schwartz