Chonkin Forever

Иван Чонкин

Chonkin Forever

Literary evening of Vladimir Voinovich in Washington


“Chonkin lived, Chonkin is alive, Chonkin will live!” In Washington, a literary evening was held for Vladimir Voinovich – a writer, playwright, poet, dissident, deprived of Soviet citizenship and exiled from the USSR during the Brezhnev era, and in the “early Putin period” awarded the State Prize of Russia. About literature and politics – in an exclusive interview for our program.

The work “A Simple Worker” from the cycle “Tales of Communists” is greeted by the audience with laughter, the author is grateful to the Russian leadership for the fact that “things that seemed outdated have become topical again”: “You know, they say, step on the same rake , we seem to have such roads made of rakes, laid out by rakes. And we go, we go, and we attack, and we attack, and we attack “.

Voinovich saw incredible twists and turns of fate. The son of a repressed editor of a regional newspaper wrote in his youth poems to the song that became the anthem of Soviet cosmonauts, remember: “On the dusty paths of distant planets … our traces will remain.” For his human rights activities and a satirical depiction of reality, he was expelled from the Writers’ Union, and after the publication abroad of “The Life and Unusual Adventures of the Soldier Ivan Chonkin” he was deprived of his citizenship and expelled from the USSR. The satirist lived in exile, collaborated with Radio Liberty and triumphantly returned to his homeland during the years of democratization.

“He did not write Gogol specifically against the government, he described life as he saw it. And these books somehow worked, but all the same, the effect of these books should not be exaggerated. Fiction, unfortunately, does not play a very big role at all, because if it played a big role, then our country would be the best country in the world, having such literature, ”says Voinovich.

The soldier Ivan Chonkin was equated by critics and readers with the best literary examples of a hero from the people – such as Vasily Terkin of Tvardovsky. Those who have read the trilogy to the end know that Chonkin eventually became an American farmer and even met with Gorbachev. In the current times of “getting up from his knees”, “returning spiritual bonds” and writing “positive history books”, Chonkin again looks like a “very dubious hero” from the point of view of the official ideology.

Vladimir Voinovich: “Chonkin is not like that, he is not ideologized at all. It cannot be ideologized. But you can tell him that this is simply not television anymore – it is already a tradition that “I am nobody”. They tell me, go there, I go there, they tell me to do this, I do … If he is sent as a volunteer to Donbass, he will go. He will not crawl out of his skin to perform some deeds there, but if they put him on guard, he will guard “.

Chonkin Forever

Recently, the writer sent a letter to the president asking for the release of the Ukrainian serviceman Nadiya Savchenko: “No, I don’t believe in the honesty of politics, but I believe that politics can sometimes be reasonable. And this policy is unreasonable. She is suicidal, this regime will end. And they will say who is to blame…. For example, I believe that Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko are the most responsible for the destruction of the Soviet Union, these people are most to blame, not Gorbachev, who tried to fix this matter. Likewise, the collapse of this new regime will be to blame for today’s leadership, headed by a comrade, we know, by the name of P “.

Alexander Panov: Do you believe in what will be possible after the collapse of this regime, it will happen, the pendulum will swing again in the direction of democratization?

V.V .: Required!

A.P .: That is, you are probably an optimist?

V.V .: I don’t know if I am an optimist. Because there will be an attempt at a new restructuring, there will be an attempt at reconciliation with the West, because Russia has nowhere to go. But how it will end, I do not know. It is quite possible that this will end in destruction, the collapse of Russia. Just like the Soviet Union collapsed.

The 82-year-old author continues to write and paint. Everything repeats and comes back, as Kornei Chukovsky said: “You have to live a long time in Russia”.

  • Alexander Panov

    Works for Voice of America since 2014. International television journalist.

  • Dmitry Shakhov

    Operator, producer of the program Present time. Results. on Voice of America since 2014

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