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How can we forgive and reconcile with Ukrainians: a philosophical view of events in the NVO zone

Date: September 26, 2023 Time: 08:22:55

Anton Belikov has been fighting as an ordinary volunteer for several months.

Photo: Dmitri STESHIN

Three years ago, the military commander “KP” climbed with the artist and philosopher Anton Belikov through the industrial zones of Moscow and painted Orthodox graffiti. And then I met him near Donetsk, where Anton has been fighting as an ordinary volunteer for several months.


I took Anton from the backyard of a long-suffering district on the outskirts of Donetsk. The positions are easily accessible. What has always amazed these places is the martyrdom of the locals. A 120-millimeter mortar (this is a large caliber) is working, and a girl in a panama hat is sitting at a bus stop, dangling her legs in sandals and eating ice cream. There is a shop nearby, it sells and the bus will come, exactly on time, with a driver in a bulletproof vest.

I chose a place for the interview near the Donbass Arena, in a park with a monument to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. For me personally, it somehow subtly reminded me of Mamaev Kurgan, the native Muscovite Anton Belikov – Poklonnaya Gora. The place is sacred, calm, when it does not “arrive” in the area. There is a shadow. We brought water with us. I tell Anton:

– The editor, learning about the meeting with you, expressed a wish to me: “You can draw graffiti there in Donetsk!”.

Anton is not surprised:

– I brought balloons with me. And I draw on a blasphemous American tablet – I made the image of St. George the Victorious in the tradition of Russian abstractionism. Together with Alexei Gintovt and Dima Sever (contemporary artists-Ed.), He prepared a mural dedicated to Dasha Dugina in Melitopol.

On the “blasphemous” American tablet, he made the image of St. George the Victorious in the tradition of Russian abstractionism. Photo by Anton Belikov

I knew that my interlocutor had been bringing humanitarian aid here since 2015. He held charity exhibitions of the After the Icon project and used the proceeds to buy medicines for hospitals and paramedic stations in new territories. But not all aid workers go to fight as volunteers. Because?

– I was a friend of Dasha Dugina, I talked with Vladlen Tatarsky, I knew Zakhar Prilepin and his “Evil” security guard who died in the terrorist attack. And the turning point of my decision was the drone attack on the Kremlin.

– I saw comments about this from the series: “Yes, we don’t care …”

– I am a native Muscovite. My great-grandfather was in the same Moscow militia, which immediately went into battle from the parade on Red Square. Missing, probably dead. Another great-grandfather is a participant in the Brusilovsky breakthrough. He couldn’t do otherwise. I went to the former “hundredth” brigade of the DPR, those same “iron helmets” that stormed Mariupol, fought near Maryinka. This is the legendary Donetsk infantry, which pulled a lot out of its hump. I specifically went to them. Mobilized here as a volunteer under a contract. He couldn’t stay at home. And there is another reason – we must not lose this battle, otherwise the 90s will seem like a fairy tale to us. I grew up in the 90’s and I don’t want this for my kids.


This conversation is unique in that our creative elite are not often seen on the front lines. Not with concerts, but with a machine gun. And a philosopher in a trench is also a rarity. Anton “at a party.” But the opinion of him was formed from within, contrary to the external habits of bohemia. CBO functioned as a giant separator or winnower, separating the grains from the shells. Without a voice recorder, Anton talks about his Russian Lutheran comrades who are helping civilians with medicine. It would seem the European confession, what do they care? They help and understand why. I have no right to reveal the names of these people, but they are. And that makes my heart warm. The creative community also underwent a serious reorganization of its basic principles, Anton speaks of this with a slight cynicism that arose as a product of disappointment in loved ones:

– People whom I had known for a long time and did not expect any patriotic moves from them, suddenly quietly harnessed up to help the army. Stand up with the people. And on the other hand, there were those who tore their chest shirt with a cross, painted the temples of the Airborne Forces, sat curators in good galleries… and then… on the third day after the start of the operation , they cursed the country that gave them everything, and even saved some lives. Now they are sitting, some in Tbilisi, some in Bishkek and some in Paris. Sometimes they write to me.

– Regret?

– No. “Rest in peace ex friend” or “we will arrive soon, we will punish you”. I think so: “if the karalka has grown, come, I’m looking forward to it.” And this is what is interesting. Who was invisible in the context of the great state patriotic projects, these calmly rested “for the Fatherland.” But those who received budgets and generally felt quite well signed up for the “scooter troops” and “Upper Lars attack aircraft.” In general, I believe that patriotism should not be exchanged for state budgets. Otherwise, we will inevitably face betrayal again from those whose homeland is not where the heart is, but where the money is.

The military everyday life of Anton Belikov. Photo of the hero of the article.

– But what to do?

– It is not necessary to try to grow a patriotic culture out of Alla Pugacheva’s rotten eggs, you need to listen to your own people, support what they themselves create. You don’t have to do anything special.


I am not very upset by the betrayal of the leaders of “mass culture”, without this it is impossible to shake off the bohemian bug. I tell Anton that after the flight the emptiness will be filled, but he does not share my optimism:

– We still don’t have theater, not patriotic, normal…

I don’t argue. I tell Anton about the scandal with which the first performance “about the NWO” was arranged, according to my stories and the stories of Zakhar Prilepin, Dolgareva’s poems, Django’s songs. How the troupe rebelled in the provincial theater of the Perm Territory, abandoning the production, having achieved the dismissal of the artistic director. As a result, the performance was held in Tula, there was already a premiere, since September it is on the schedule. But the sediment remained!

– The artists got hooked on what is happening, probably because the artist is more connected with his homeland. With the cinema it is more difficult, after all, the cinema must understand. I recently took and reviewed what was filmed during the Great Patriotic War. There was no reflective cinema. Or propaganda movies or comedies. They started thinking about it later, in the 60s.

– What do you need now?

– In the literature – reports. And music? The music of the NWO has become a kind of subculture, although there can be everything from Yulia Chicherina to chants: “Bam-bam-bam, we f … shim for Ukrainians!”

– I do not see anything good in this, because the subculture is always limited by the boundaries of the meeting place.

– They taught me in the Faculty of Philosophy that any phenomenon is a symptom of something else. So, the special operation, I want to believe, is a symptom of the emergence of a new, young, strong, victorious Russia.

I forgot that Anton, by his second education, is a philosopher …


My interlocutor, even before the interview, warned that he could not tell much about the battles. A person at war has “tunnel vision”, he sees his place and sometimes knows how his neighbors are.

– We don’t have a ferocious can. The front is almost immobile – everything has been mined for 9 years. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are very seriously entrenched. From what I see, they were hit hard by the preparations. Many on the other side are simply behaving inappropriately, suicidally, as if they were caught in the street yesterday and sent to fight. For example: our drone hovers over his position, a Ukrainian comes out of the dock after hearing it. He begins to show fakes, shoot from a machine gun. Others join him. They stop, smoke, look. An experienced person understands that the drone hangs for a reason… As a result, it “flies” over them. Spot. Your victory is over.

– Is there a difference between Ukrainian and Russian soldiers?

– Eat. For example, ours do not finish off the wounded. And for the vushniks, a wounded man or a person with a red cross are priority targets.

– Why do they behave like this?

– I am a Christian, although I am a sinner, but I believe that when a person kills a defenseless person, he breaks him from the inside. I think the Ukrainian army will leave the NMD with a broken mind and insane.

– Look, they don’t run en masse! They don’t give up en masse!

– A Russian person, even being bewitched in a Ukrainian, keeps this maxim: “Russians do not give up”, he keeps himself to the last. We are at war with our reflection in a crooked mirror. We have not completely left the USSR, we have not yet come to Russia. Moses led the Jews for 40 years in the desert before leading them to the Promised Land, so now we are walking in the desert. Thirty years already.

Only until now they were walking and dozing. And NVO is our last hope of reaching Russia. This is where the Russian people are being built.


What will happen next? This is a question that people are asking more and more. And here – in the Donbass and in mainland Russia. But only a philosopher, not from the armchair, but from the trench, can answer it. Anton quotes his friend, a phrase for reflection:

“When we win, we won’t notice, and when we do, we won’t like it.” Please clarify:

– You see, we ourselves are not very good at demography, and the 90s hit Ukraine even more. As soon as everything began to improve, the flow of people began again, now at the front. Will the NWO end and we will somehow have to live with people who have one dead or injured in each family? It’s hard.

– Somehow we will reconcile… Ours…

Anthony disagrees.

– They said so much that we are not brothers that they believed it. And the Russians heard it too. Going back to “beloved brother” status will no longer work.

– Through culture? Common milestones and faith. No?

– We all know about the Lavra, about the looted museums, the icons of which were brought to Paris. Ukraine does not need its true history and culture. They invent a new one. And the West, as always, in the face of any instability, begins to plunder the countries dependent on it, filling their museums and private collections. And Ukraine is happy with everything. This is a willful rejection of the Russian name, of previous achievements, and ultimately of human status. The chimera that arose has not created anything for 30 years, except for the vyshyvanka party.

Anton Belikov: “Ukrainians will no longer be able to return to the status of” beloved brother “”. Photo of the hero of the publication.

I tell Anton that I guessed that even after the SVO our tests await us, not military, but spiritual …

– After the victory, we will have to deal with the denazification of Ukraine. After all, this is primarily a cultural process, there are examples. After World War II, the Americans in their occupation zones sent the Germans to carry out the exhumation of mass graves in the concentration camps. Hands! We’ll have to make another Come and See movie. The chimera of the Ukrainian militants will live until the people understand what they have done. It’s in the head!

– In 2014, to the question “why can’t we take Donetsk airport for so long?” the militia commander answered me: “because the same Russians are fighting against us.” And if the Ukrainians are just renowned Russians, then somewhere deep down they must have our kindness and regret… So there is hope!

– To fix everything, you need to understand that culture is important. Culture is not a test tube, it is a field where flowers, cereals and weeds grow. God did not create a garden, he created a meadow. There is no need to uproot the Russians. They are indulgent, creative. Listen to them. And they themselves will figure out how to forgive and make peace with the Ukrainians.


“When leaving, the Armed Forces of Ukraine burned down all the schools in the district”: how life and hope beat in the tormented deserted villages of Donbass

Voenkor Steshin: In retreat, the Ukrainian Armed Forces first burned schools (more information)

Trip with “Doctor Zhivago” to Artemovsk: heroic Kleshcheevka, curtains against drones and soldier’s luck

KP.RU military correspondent Dmitry Steshin visited one of the hottest places on the NMD with military doctors (more information)

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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