24th February 2022 Reality Loses Its Contours

View from an apartment in a Moscow prefabricated housing estate, Russia.
View from an apartment in a Moscow prefabricated housing estate, Russia, 15.06.2012. | Photo (detail): Thomas Trutschel © picture alliance /photothek

Suddenly, nothing is the way it used to be - this is what people in and from Ukraine have been experiencing since 24th February 2022. All Russians must now stand up and speak out, urges the Russian writer Alisa Genieva, for nothing will be the way it was anymore.

By Alissa Arkadjewna Ganijewa

It was waking up to an endless tumult of horror, shame, pity and disbelief. The confirmation of expectations, fears and anxieties that lay dormant deep down inside me. For eight long years I had been waiting for this to happen, for eight long weeks I was petrified at the thought of the impending war. But it wasn’t until the rumbling started that reality lost its contours.

Morning gave way to afternoon, and afternoon to evening. It seemed impossible to emerge from the black torrent of bad news. Impossible to work on constructing anything at all, even to plan small things, to think about anything but the war, this bloody imperialist attack launched by my country and in my name. That the aggressor leading my country and all his subservient minions are ruling the country so phenomenally and committing acts of violence that we tolerate. They are in power because of all the Russians who’ve resigned themselves to the fact that they’re not citizens, have nothing to do with politics, have no influence on anything anyway, that they don't want to wade through all this news crap, they just want to water their flowers and pet their kittens. Blood is flowing because of every single one of these silent persons, and every single one of them will be punished. Even those who did not comply, those who spoke out and took to the streets, for which they will be branded as easily-bought traitors to the fatherland and as local madmen – even they will atone. Everyone is to blame for remaining silent, for letting themselves be infantilized, for the failure of the majority of the population to intervene.

No Turning Back

The day went by in an endless tumult of breaking news and the background noise of sobs, screams, questions, helplessness and – what is revolting – cheering. Boundless rage and terror in some quarters, cannibalistic delight in others. Many exuded some no longer oppressive, insatiable imperialistic urge.

I was in bed with the corona virus and fever and couldn’t go out into the streets of the city to express my “no” in person, but friends of mine, people close to me and some housemates were there. I spent much of the night going through the lists of those arrested, looking for their names. Some of them got grabbed, some are still locked up. But day after day, people are still taking to the streets. Day after day, the war is devouring human lives, the news keeps flooding in, the darkness is deepening. And yet there are fleeting glimmers of hope, too: isn’t it always darkest just before the dawn?

We will never be able to get back to the lives we had before. And the future promises exertions. But there is still this faith in a coming catharsis and victory. Victory over the evil within our country and within ourselves. It’s every Russian’s duty to flush out the little dragon inside ourselves – that proud, narcissistic, distrustful, xenophobic little monster that’s envious of others and dreams of expansion and omnipotence – and to strangle it. It’s going to hurt but there’s no other way.