If family responsibilities didn’t keep you in the Czech Republic, where would you go now to get information?
Now, for example, I would probably head to Odessa right now – not only because it’s my favorite city, I have a lot of friends there, but because the city is preparing to attack from the sea. And there is prepared with a touching consistency. People are really sandbagging there, lining the whole coast and estimating where the missiles are likely to end up.
And it’s just a beautiful multicultural city. kyiv, of course, is now the center of events, everyone wants to be there, but there are quite a few journalists. It is well covered. So I would go to Odessa.
You certainly have friends on the Russian and Ukrainian side. How do you live it?
Well, I’m trying to communicate a little more with the Russian side now, because I thought that we already know a lot about this Ukraine, we penetrate “into the secrets of the Ukrainian soul”, we admire heroism, their bravery. Everyone knows the Ukrainian president. But suddenly we don’t know much about what’s going on in Russia right now. And it’s much harder to know, because while you are calling Ukraine, everyone will be happy to tell you their story, because they have nothing to be ashamed or worried about. And Ukrainians are rightly very proud of themselves now, and you like to talk to the media.
It is much worse with Russia. Talking to someone there is really a chore. And if so, he begs: Do not name! The Russian intellectuals I have been calling since yesterday are either desperate, begging for help, or begging me to understand why they are not doing anything. They find excuses and are just in a sorry state, I would say. But there are also a lot of colleagues from the journalistic industry, for example, who are going to start explaining to you that it’s a bit Ukraine’s fault, that they were too perverse and that they didn’t not really listen to what they were told.
This means that people who have the intellectual and professional equipment not to succumb to the propaganda which is really powerful in Russia have succumbed.
They succumbed. And it’s strange, because of course they don’t just watch Russian TV. Sixty million Russians are almost daily Internet users, and of course all journalists, many of whom speak English, so I think they have this information. But somehow you don’t subconsciously want to be part of or a victim of information fraud, so you start apologizing.
For example, they say to me: “You know, I don’t do anything, I don’t quit my job and I don’t take to the streets, because I have a responsibility not only towards society, but also towards my family, to my children who are studying.” the story.
It is necessary that the people who were involved in what the regime has dreamed up stay there and deal with it now themselves.
I imagine the fear of repression. For example, “Maybe they’ll pick me up if I show up.” But when they ask you for help, what do they want?
It is with these children that it is very common. They say, “Please, we have children there, they are studying with you. You could not write them a confirmation that they have worked with you and that they must stay with you, these are not not Putin’s spies.” And depending on whether their visas will be extended.
So there is such a fear in Russia that children will be expelled from studies etc., which is possible, because these sanctions will not only affect the Russian oligarchs and the political elite, but I think they will affect practically everybody.
And should they?
They should. I even had such a nasty conversation yesterday with a friend of mine from the 90s who is a gray area – not for or against so somehow the media got through she was more free for a while, but not for a while. And she told me that she would probably need to leave Russia somehow, and if it didn’t work out like our colleague. And I realized that it was actually necessary for the people who had been involved in what the regime had dreamed up to stay there and now deal with it themselves.
Because the front is not so much in Ukraine now, where we seem to see it, but the front is in Russia. And the only ones who can definitely change that are the Russians themselves. When we start inviting them all overseas and everyone leaves, there will be no one to deal with the situation. They have to fight for themselves now.
Sometimes in Russia I met such a friendly hug and a pat on the shoulders: “After all, we are all Slavs.” We are Slavs, Ukrainians are Slavs too. What is the difference between Ukrainians and Russians?
It certainly is and is certainly growing. When you have lived with someone for decades and much longer, and Ukrainians have lived with Russians for a very long time, you have a lot in common. But when your paths diverge, suddenly the differences that were sleeping somewhere come to the surface very quickly. So I think the Ukrainians have come a long way in that, unlike the Russians, they managed to establish the basic instruments of democratic state governance, namely free elections and free media.
It was fantastic to watch – when free media appeared in Ukraine, when people started talking, they stopped being afraid. This is not the case in Russia.
And despite everything that has flourished in Ukraine, the terrible corruption, the unwillingness to obey the law – because the further east you go, the more marginal the law seems to be. All this separates us from the Ukrainians, for example, we will not lie to each other. Their relationship to punctuality, alcohol, etc. Everything is different there and it reminds us more of Russia.
But the fundamental difference is really in the awareness of Ukrainians that he is a citizen. The blossoming of civil society that took place after 2014 was admirable; It was fantastic to watch – when the free media came out, people started talking, they stopped being scared. Well, it’s just not in Russia. And with that, Ukraine terribly fled from Russia. In a few years.
Would it help Russia if it acknowledged the crimes of Stalinism, when the Germans had come to terms with the Nazi past? How does Petra Procházková see Russian official media? And what is the Ukraine that she got to know with her own eyes? Listen to the whole conversation.