28 February 2017
Moscow: 15:15
London: 12:15

Consular queries:  
+44 (0) 203 668 7474  
info@rusemb.org.uk  

 

SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

11.11.2011

On NT production of “Collaborators”

On 9 November at the invitation of the National Theatre a representative of the Russian Embassy was present at NT Forum on Collaborators сhaired by Martin Sixsmith with participation of Sir Roderic Lyne. After the discussion that provided an in-depth view of the relevant historical context of the play, Minister Counsellor Alexander Kramarenko with other participants watched the performance in the Cottesloe Theatre. We welcome the interest of the British in Russia’s history, including the use of that material for raising truly global, existential issues of universal importance. This interest has been recently testified to by The BBC Radio-4 dramatization of Vassily Grossman’s Life and Fate. These are the impressions and some thoughts inspired by John Hodge’s play:

It was an impressive performance, both from the point of view of the quality of the script and formidable acting by Alex Jennings (Mikhail Bulgakov), Simon Russell Beale (Stalin) and the rest of their company. It was a very convincing laughter through tears satyre, which in no way diminishes the horror of the subject and reasserts the best traditions of the English theatre. The genre seems to be borrowed from Dostoevsky’s “fantastic realism”, i.e. artificial construction of the reality as means of making the point. Overall the production is a huge success, all the actors able to bridge the gap between foreign reality and its perception in the English language, including the choice of words and sensitive treatment of all the characters’ parts.

A play on complex reality of another country always raises for the audience the issue of how to relate to that roughly familiar context. So, it is useful to compare to a similar period of their own history. And in this case it may well be either the break with Rome under Henry VIII or Puritan dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell. 

What seems to be of additional value of this production is that its message goes beyond the particular historical experience of a particular country and raises a universal problem transcending national and societal borders. It is timely now that the issue of corruption is on everybody’s mind and all are anticipating another wave of the global financial crisis. Corruption as corruption of human spirit is treated as absolute evil. The play in its artistic mastery rises to the level of generalization which is rare at our time of complacency, moral relativism and political drift.

What is at issue is the fundamental Christian truth (Christ’s temptation in the desert) about freedom and moral responsibility being always individual. Any attempt to absolve an individual through all forms of collective responsibility, its privatization and nationalization, always in the name of common good, leeds the individual and societies to self-destruction.

In fact, this is about blurring the divide between good and evil. It does not matter whether those are hard or soft methods of such absolution, what the forms and objectives are or when those seeds of institutionalized conformism were sowed. The outcome is pretty much the same, whether we take the collapse of the Soviet system or the present crisis of liberal capitalism, whether it was Russian nihilism or Western revolution, whether in the name of the dictatorship of proletariat, or the Grande Terreur of the French revolution, or the German unity and subsequent patriotism and militarism, or the Reformation, which in the words of Fedor Tyutchev “made people judges in the own case”. This perceived humanism, as an appropriation of the divine moral law which is thus destroyed, is the source of corrupting influence. It does not matter what kind of human activities loses its moral foundation, be it politics or “financial alchemy” in the past decades. Moral responsibility is always about questioning the questionable to the best of one’s own ability and intelligence, whether benefiting from it or merely allowing it to happen. Whistleblowing, leaking documents to the media and resigning in protest are contemporary manifestations of this freedom of conscience. 

One may appeal to the forces of market element, but the market is a set of institutions created by man. For example, someone puts poisonous financial products on the market, somebody else looks the other way or doesn’t feel like regulating or thinking through the consequences of such innovations. And if the latter may amount to economic disruption at the scale of civil war, which was the case of the Great Depression? Anyway markets ought not to strive equally when nations prosper and when they go down the drain.

In a sense, European humanism, with its by-products of political morality, political expediency and other forms of managing the truth and individual conscience, has been a common denominator for the West and the East at the time of the Cold War. Dealing with the consequences within the broader European family makes for a great unifying goal for all of us. Perhaps, it is here that sacrifices of people like Sir Thomas More and many Russians, who stood against tyranny to the bitter end, will find their ultimate vindication.

The European society as a whole is facing a crisis. And it seems that unless we understand its reasons, it would be next to impossible to know what to do. And the factor of individual moral responsibility may be crucial in that analysis. At least, when Russian philosophers tried to make sense of our Revolution they talked about dechristianization. Vassily Rozanov wrote in his Apocalypse of our time in 1918: “colossal voids have formed in the European humanity (including Russia) of the previous Christianity, and everything falls into them: thrones, classes, social estates, labour, wealth”. Christianity may not be an issue, but how to explain that neither the Reformation, nor the Enlightenment, nor rationalism, nor democracy have helped to prevent this crisis as well as the previous ones? Maybe, it is a case of finding some other, more solid foundation, the one that wouldn’t discourage individual moral responsibility?




LATEST EVENTS

14.02.2017 - UK – RUSSIA YEAR OF SCIENCE AND EDUCATION: THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP? (Robin Grimes, FCO Chief Scientific Adviser, Part of Global Science and Innovation Network)

At the end of the classic film Casablanca, Rick says to the Chief of Police “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship”. So, as we embark upon a year of UK Russia Science & (Science) Education events, what do we expect our scientific relationship to look like 12 months from now? There are some crucial points to bear in mind.


10.02.2017 - UK worried about its place if US-Russia ties are repaired – Russia’s UK envoy (Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

Hacking, destabilizing Western states, building up its military might, and weaponizing information – Russia is hitting the headlines and seems to be to blame for all of the world’s problems. One of the loudest anti-Russia voices is the United Kingdom, condemning Moscow’s actions and calling for economic sanctions against it. Most of the accusations are far from proven – so is there still room left for cooperation on vital issues between world powers? And now that the UK’s ally the US may be ready to change course and start making deals with Moscow, is there a chance for a change in tone? We ask Russia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom – Alexander Yakovenko.


08.02.2017 - Ambassador’s Alexander Yakovenko speech at the opening of "Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932" exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts (February 7, 2017)

It’s an honour for me to be here at the opening of this impressive exhibition. The best Russian museums have provided masterpieces from their collections which give a fascinating insight into the drastic and violent transformation of culture and society in Russia 100 years ago. Our revolution was a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon, a direct result of our common European catastrophe, which was WWI.


30.01.2017 - Alexander Kramarenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for the “International Affairs” magazine (Moscow). Unaccomplished mission of Alexander Benckendorff and its lessons.

11 January marked 100 years since the death of the last Ambassador of the Russian Empire to the UK count Alexander Benckendorff, who was buried in the catholic Westminster Cathedral in London. This anniversary was a timely reminder of his unaccomplished mission in London, where he arrived in 1903. What was it and why is it still relevant now?


25.01.2017 - A visit to Syria by an independent group (31 August - 7 September).



13.12.2016 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for The Daily Mail (full text)

Question: Does Russia hope for better co-operation (both political and military) with the UK and how can this be achieved/ what would this look like? Answer: Unlike MI-6 Director Alex Younger’s portrayal of Russia, I can assure you that Russia doesn’t view Britain as a strategic adversary, and it just cannot be. There is nothing strategic for us to contest. We hope for real cooperation, not war of words, primarily in the fight against terrorism, including military and special services cooperation, in political settlement in Syria and other international issues.


05.12.2016 - Ambassador Yakovenko answers to media question regarding Russia’s efforts in Syria

Question: What is Russia’s position on a draft UNSC resolution on Aleppo recently presented to the Security Council? Answer: We believe that the introduction of this draft is utterly counterproductive. In the coming days experts from Russia and the United States are to begin their work on the withdrawal of all fighters from the eastern part of Aleppo and achieving an agreement on routes and timing of their exit from the city. After that the ceasefire will come into force.


30.11.2016 - Speech by Russian Ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko at the Russian-British Business Forum (30 November 2016, London)

I am pleased to witness the ongoing constructive cooperation between business communities of our two countries in spite of the unfavorable political situation. This year has seen a number of impressive business events, including those arranged by the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce (as it marked its 100th anniversary), “VTB”, “Moscow Exchange” and the “Russian-British Working Group for the development of the International Financial Centre in Moscow”.


25.11.2016 - Ambassador Yakovenko answers to media question regarding listing Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam as terrorist organizations

Question: What was the Western partners’ reaction as regards Russia’s initiative at the UN Security Council on listing Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam as terrorist organizations?


23.11.2016 - Answers by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko to media questions after the demonstration near the Embassy on the 23 of November

1. Question: How do you see today’s demonstration in support of Russia’s policy in Syria? Answer: From the very start of the Russian operation in Syria we have seen a lot of support from Britons who see that the war being waged there is а war against enemies of the whole European civilization, including Britain. This support can be felt now as well, despite the Whitehall instigated campaign to accuse Russia of “war crimes”. News of civilian suffering are cynically exploited to hamper the defeat of terrorists and their allies, to undermine the political process. It’s good that more and more people come to understand this.



all messages