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The dragons are back
In the black mountains, a five-years walk away, there is a giant cave. Inside there is a book, a pleading book, written almost to the end. No one touches it, but page after page is added to those already written, added every day, about all the crimes of criminals, all the misfortunes of those suffering in vain. — Дракон (Evgeny Schwartz)
It turns out that on February 23, 2022 The Economist wrote about the play, probably after reading my annodated translation of practicing philosopher Vladimir Pastukhov’s diatribe on Echo Moscow1. (That post was very popular. The radio station has, er, since changed hands and the YouTube link has been taken down or deleted).
That’s too bad, because I wanted to re-listen to the broadcast because I remember Pastukhov saying that corrupting citizens to collaborate in their own oppression is a problem for Ukraine, as well as for Russia. The arrest of Roman Chervinsky on April 25 is one example2. There are many others3.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky (Pastukhov’s interlocutor on The Road Map weekly podcast hosted by Vitaly Dymarsky) says in the prologue to his book, published in November — titled To Kill a Dragon: A manual for start-up revolutionaries — that it was Mark Zakharov’s cult film, “To Slay a Dragon,” based on Schwartz’s play, that inspired the title.
In Zakharov’s film, the archivist, in justifying his conformist views to the knight, says, “The only way to get rid of someone else’s dragon is to create your own.”
We concluded on Day 18 that Russia had lost the war4. We don’t know yet when or how the dragon hunt in Moscow will unfold or when/if the wackos in charge of Putin’s Brownshirts will be allowed to commit suicide. Doomed in Russia, the dragon has already shapeshifted to Kyiv and is testing the country’s leaders for the role of the Burgomaster in Schwartz’s play.
Remember the Burgomaster? He is the one who forced people to embrace the lie that it was he, not Lancelot, who killed the dragon. Using spies, prisons and the citizens’ own penchant for corruption, he took the dragon’s place.
The roles of Henry (the Burgomaster’s son) and Charlemagne (archivist) have already been cast, and Balush has generously agreed to play кот.
Oh, and I highly recommend Valentina Samar’s investigation of Ukraine’s official investigation of the almost complete takeover of the country’s State Security Service by Russian moles after Z became president.