This is the Photo Which Opened my Heart to the Russian People
And no, it is not a funeral or anything of the sort
I don’t know what exactly is going through the minds and hearts of these two women in the photo but I know what went through mine when I saw them. I felt such a strong feeling of emotion and heartbreak for the two representatives of a people who up till now I had no particular sympathy. I’d swept them under one generic term, slightly derogatory in tone, The Russians. And all because of their smug president and his national and international ‘politics’.
I confess to bouts of intolerance.
I cannot stand him. His interfering and spiderweb politics frighten me. As I see it, Russia is caught in a dictated system of political immorality in which people, like you or I, have no say, no voice, no agency.
Anyway, this is not the point I’m making. Looking at this photo made me realize just how much “normal” Russian people must long for a life less controlled, less corrupt and more just and fairer.
The background to the photo, in a nutshell, was the jailing of an investigative journalist, Ivan Golunov, under trumped-up charges (possessing and supplying drugs) and as the BBC reported,
“… the unprecedented collective effort by Russia’s journalistic community to stand up for the safety of their colleague, to force authorities to drop the charges and to defend the very possibility of investigative journalism.”
People demonstrated outside the police station where he was imprisoned and flooded social media with their comments and questions.
“Then three of the country’s leading newspapers published identical headlines — I/We are Ivan Golunov — in protest at his detention.”
And when presenters from Russia’s state-controlled TV channels — normally uncritical of the government — began to voice dissent. Well, this was too much for Mr. Putin.
Ivan Golunov was released.
And the people took to the streets once again.
This was when the photo was taken. I wonder are they two of the more than 200 people who the police arrested? What are these women thinking and feeling? I see despair, yearning, determination or maybe simply the pure emotionality of having broken down a micro part of the system.
Whatever it is, it was their photo which moved me to write this post. And a lesson for me.
They deserve our solidarity. We in the West have it easier. Still.