For more than thirty years, contact with France, with its thought and its culture, as well as frequenting our French friends, have played a major role in my life and in that of everyone around us in Kyiv. Our book with Laure Mandeville, “When Ukraine rises. The birth of a new Europe”, bears witness to a new and important stage in this relationship, at a time of unprecedented ordeal. My French interlocutors often say that Europe lacks self-confidence; yet I remember very well the skepticism with which we ourselves considered our society on the eve of this astonishing outpouring of energy that was, during the winter of 2013-2014, the Maidan revolution. The profound experience that I have of the interaction between our two societies allows me to attest that there are realities in French thought and the art of living which, despite extreme skepticism, give confidence .
Ukrainian literature has an appointment in Paris
In February 2022, many people in the West were convinced that the forces were too unequal and that Kyiv had no chance of giving the big bear back its own coin. But the Ukrainians did not know that it was impossible, and they did it.
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When the Russians started shelling Kyiv on February 24, we were agonized day and night by the danger coming from the northeast. But you even get used to the howl of the sirens. Today, the news that comes to us from the West does not alarm our bodies but our minds… I dare not go so far as to think that the rejection of common sense will prevail in your political debates. I will only underline a tendency to blindness among those who allow themselves to be deceived by the lie of the tyrant on “traditional values”.
“I want to show what Ukraine is going through”: in Odessa, the art of resistance
“Let night fall! »
Why does Putin so underestimate Westerners in general and Ukrainians in particular? The absolutely cynical contempt in which he holds the Europeans plays a bad trick on him here. Is he mistaken in his worst assumptions about the reality of our societies? Or is he trying to mutilate reality to lower it to its monstrous patterns? The practices specific to the Soviet KGB are currently the levers used by this criminal power: blackmail to famine, cold and nuclear desert. It is in Europe that he is looking for the weak link in our resistance. Will he find it and thus succeed in breaking the chain of our solidarity? It’s not just for him to stun the “naive democracies”, to divide them and sow discord among them. Threatening Europeans with cold and impoverishment is not enough. Since they still don’t have enough self hatewe will show them that their petty calculations matter more to them than the massacres of Boutcha and Mariupol to make them hate each other even more. And that they make responsible for their shameful baseness their own politicians (and not those of the Kremlin). The tyrant considers others as idiots and does everything to brainwash them. He works to catch in the snare of corruption, blackmail and lies anyone who continues to call the black ” black “ and ” crime “ the killing of civilians.
Andrei Kurkov: “Putin prepared Russian society for the idea that Ukrainian society had to be destroyed”
With bombs and rockets the Putinians cut off the light in the cities of Ukraine populated by millions of inhabitants, thus plunging them into darkness. The ideology of Putinism boils down to this: discussions of the decline of the West have gone on far too long. Let night fall! They install “Dark Ages” in our computers, our phones and our heads. The total lie threatens Europe from the “anthropological catastrophe” where the Russian regime has already precipitated its own population. Acceptance of bondage is on the rise. We see people mutilating their hands or feet to avoid being drafted into Putin’s army. The protest is cut short. The mutilated drives into his bones and his flesh the animal fear which will mutilate him even more. Self-censorship and self-mutilation: this is the model that the tyrant has imposed on his fellow citizens and that he intends to impose on all of us.
The voluntary servitude (made worse by 21st century technologies) is the ” Commercial proposition “ what our common enemy is doing to us. Let’s not waste our time in pessimistic assumptions about the number of collaborators in case of occupation of your city. It is much more interesting to ask yourself if you personally know people who will never answer this dastardly ” proposal “.
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“Diagnosis: guide”, by Boris Khersonsky
“The answer is: act”
The time has come to take a closer look at these people. The Ukrainian resistance, its audacity and its power continue to amaze. Journalists always ask me the question of ” why “. What is new in the current situation is explained by the question ” for who ? ». Day after day we see people risking their lives and giving it up to be themselves. To, on this essential point, help others, that is to say you and us. You and me. For your freedom and mine. The answer is: act. Who, at this very moment, is enduring the most painful trials for us? Pain and anger did not cloud our reason. During these days of affliction and darkness we suddenly, to our amazement, perceived what was stronger than the forces of evil. Specifically, we saw the faces of previously unknown people who opened our minds to the fundamental question of knowing thanks to whom we are alive and free. Not just in the sense that we weren’t killed. But because thanks to them, we can speak and act like living and free beings. Like human beings.
“You can see more clearly in the dark”, by Tetyana Ogarkova
In the early days of the bombings of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa and other cities in Ukraine, it might have seemed that the form of the answer to this question distinguished Ukrainians from other Europeans, but it turned out not. The first weeks of the battle for Kyiv saw journalists from various countries around the world change their tone and point of view during our conversations, as this issue affected them. Some gave their lives to answer it. The faces of those who accompany friends, fellow citizens or soldiers on their last journey provide an inimitable answer to this question. A new historic wave of strong meanings like a burn or a handshake has invaded our inner being. Her name is ” gratitude “. This state of gratitude has been decisive for the visible or imperceptible events in the lives of millions of people on the threshold of this new era. Previously, this word could be heard during a conversation or translated into a gesture among others. But now it has a question as its axis. Like a splinter in the flesh, it hurts and prevents the consciousness from sleeping as usual. Everything has changed because we now clearly understand that it is thanks to others that we can speak, write and wake up in the morning with a ” hello “. It has become the sine qua non of our existence. They wanted to throw us into an abyss of despair and hatred, but what filled our lives more than ever was gratitude.
Saying that we did not come to earth alone but thanks to someone no longer sounds like a truism. A deeply forgotten fact has now become unavoidable: it is that we strongly feel the new feeling of living not each in his own corner but behind the front line, behind the shoulders of those who defend us. It is a bit like being born again to clearly feel that you are in the network of life thanks to others.
The festival A weekend in the east will take place from November 24 to 28 in Paris. More than a hundred guests in thirty places in the capital. Full program on: weekendalest.comIlya Kaminsky, Ukrainian poet: “Will I be able to return to Odessa? »
Constantin Sigov, organic express
Born in 1962 in Kyiv, Konstantin Sigov is an internationally recognized Ukrainian philosopher and publisher. Very involved during the Maidan revolution, he directs the European center at Mohyla University in Kyiv and was associate director at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris from 1992 to 1995. For his tireless activity as a builder of bridges between cultures, Constantin Sigov was decorated by France with the rank of officer of the Order of Academic Palms. He has just published with Laure Mandeville “When Ukraine rises. The birth of a new Europe” (Talent editions).
He will intervene Sunday, November 27 at 5 p.m. at the Théâtre de la ville around “Speaking the truth: what future for Ukraine? », with Anna Colin Lebedev and Tetyana Ogarkova. Animation: Sandrine Treiner, writer and director at France-Culture.