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When Democracy Ends on the Word Ukraine: Composer to Epress.am in Ukraine

Ukrainian composer Volodymyr Runchak spoke with the Epress.am team about recent events in his country, Ukraine-Russia relations, and Russian cultural workers. 

"Democracy for the Russian intellectual ends on the word Ukraine," he said.

Video in Russian only. Transcript below translated into English from Armenian.

"There are cultural workers who actively participate in the life of their country, and there are those who sit in their foyers like snails. I belong to the former.

"I organized a huge campaign criticizing the actions of famous Russian accordionist Friedrich Lips, who was one of the first to sign the Russian cultural workers' famous letter to President Putin. I asked him — though I knew he had signed it — whether that was true. He wasn't responding to me, so I disseminated this information throughout the entire world, from America to Poland, so that people can join the campaign. After this he responded — because, roughly speaking, that's where he earns his real money — in the West. As a result of all this, his acquired reputation might've had negative consequences. He responded, confirming that it was true, and presented several arguments as to why he did it, which was even more terrible. A person can make a mistake and then admit his mistake. In his case, his position, according to him, was justified.

"I got all the accordion fans in Ukraine up on their feet. Now there are mass discussions online; people write letters to him; children write letters.

"In any case, I give people the option of choice; I say they can do nothing [if they want]. The letters to Lips, however, won't dissuade him, since the disease of chauvinism is incurable — people die with it. 

"We need these letters: We have to rise up from the level of khokhols [a Russian pejorative term for ethnic Ukrainians] to the level of Ukrainians. 

"[Russia] is that country which was always considered our brother: older or younger [brother] — it doesn't matter. When it comes to Ukraine, however, this is coming to an end. 

"I'm sorry."

Photo: Volodymyr Runchak (left) with Azerbaijani composer and publicist Elmir Mirzoyev.
Photo credit: Ahmed Mukhtar