FREDRIKSTAD (VG) Ukraine’s most famous author believes that the war will not end until Vladimir Putin (69) is gone anyway.
– Mobilization or not does not mean everything, believes Andrej Kurkov (61), who is in Norway to market his book “Diary from an invasion”.
This is where he sees the news about a partial Russian mobilization with 300,000 new soldiers and “referendums” in four Ukrainian regions to become part of Russia.
– Putin’s idea is to incorporate the Ukrainian areas into Russia, and thus he can say that it is Russia that must be defended in Ukraine, the author thinks aloud.
– As long as Vladimir Putin is alive and the people around him are there, we will have no end to the war, no ceasefire, no agreement. Then the problems continue, he says when VG meets him at Litteraturhuset in Fredrikstad.
– Putin wants to remove Ukraine from the map. He is already talking as if Ukraine does not exist. He would like to be someone in Russian history who makes Russia great again.
– What do you think about the support he has among the Russians?
– He has great support. The Russians have chosen not to be free, but to have a strong leader. Stability is more important than freedom for them.
– Is the ordinary Russian also responsible for what is happening?
– Everyone who voted for him is responsible. Of course. When they voted for Putin and his party, they voted for this war. And for the other wars that Russia has waged during the war. They do not realize that they have made Russia weaker. Putin is not that powerful anymore.
– How does he view Ukraine?
– He believes that Ukraine betrayed Russia by moving towards the west. In his image, Ukraine betrayed Russia and the Soviet Union. He believes that everyone who was part of the Soviet Union should stay together with Russia – under Moscow’s control.
– Do you expect a prolonged war?
– Yes, but it depends on who comes after Putin. Putin will never give up and never admit a mistake.
– What do you think about what Putin has said about Ukraine in this war?
– I don’t know if Putin remembers what he said.
– What do you mean?
– First he said that Ukrainians and Russians were brothers as nations. Then he said that Ukraine and Russia were one nation. And before the war, he said that the Ukrainians do not exist – they are Russians who do not know that they are Russians.
– Were you surprised by the invasion?
– Yes, I expected that it would escalate and that there would be more war in the east, but I had not thought that it would be a full-scale war.
Born in Russia
– Can Ukraine win?
– Yes, victory for Ukraine will mean the liberation of the entire country.
– Including Crimea?
– Including Crimea.
Andrej Kurkov was born in St. Petersburg to two Russian parents, but they moved to Kyiv already when he was two years old.
– I learned Ukrainian when I was 14, he says.
– I have a novel that is not finished, but I put it away on 24 February.
His phone rings. We overhear him saying “is everything good in Kyiv?”. It turns out that he has two children who live in the Ukrainian capital. He himself has not been there for several months, but will be back soon.
– Are you surprised by the unity among the Ukrainians after the invasion?
– No! Because Ukrainians are individualists. Everyone is independent of each other, but the father now unites the country. Everyone is afraid of losing their independence. In Ukraine you cannot have censorship, you cannot introduce a regime like Putin’s in Russia. People will immediately stand up to this.
– The Putin regime is not possible in Ukraine
– A Putin regime will not be possible in Ukraine?
– No, Viktor Yanukovych tried it, and got help from Putin. That is why he is in Moscow and not in Ukraine now.
– Did you fear that Kyiv would fall in the first days of the war?
– I feared it, because I was surprised at how quickly southern Ukraine was occupied and how close they came to Kyiv.
– Did you vote for Volodymyr Zelenskyj in the election?
– No, I am not a Zelenskyj supporter. I want professional politicians, not people from show business, from a television channel belonging to an oligarch. And he brings in friends who have no political or financial experience.
– Not a Zelenskyj supporter
– How has he handled the war?
– He has handled the war very well, but now it is Zelensky 2.0. I’m waiting to see Zelenskyj 3.0 after the war.
– Could you imagine before 2014 that there would be such a bad relationship between Ukrainians and Russians?
– Before 2014 – no! But after 2014 it has been a bad relationship. Even relatives could not talk to each other. Before 2014 it was never a problem.
– Putin says that Ukraine was never a state before Lenin created the republic in the 1920s?
– Putin knows well that the Ukrainian Cossack state existed before 1654. Ukraine existed in the Middle Ages. There is Ukrainian literature from the early 18th century.