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Moscow… We’re used to criticizing it. Stuff like “This is wrong, and that’s not the way it has to be, and prices for everything are crazy, and annoying immigrants are coming in large numbers, and the environment is bad, and generally speaking, it’s impossible to live here.” Anybody saying «I like living in Moscow» is looked at like a madman. He is not in the know, you see… The funny thing is, the crowds of refugees from The Unrubber City[1] won’t be seen no matter how hard you look for them. Apparently, they travel by tunnels under the ground. Oh, wait a minute, there is another possibility—there are no crowds of refugees from Moscow, because it’s a great city to live in. At least, for me, Moscow is one of the best cities on this planet (I’m talking about global cities). The only two things that it lacks are the sea and mountains. You can think of me as a pervert, but that’s my opinion.

After two years in Freetown, the capital of our country looked like some paradise on Earth. The metro, grazing herds of white girls, high-rise buildings popping out here and there like mushrooms after a rain, normal Russian food. Three days in Istanbul have not yet dulled the acute sense of satisfaction with the civilization around me. And it’s not in the financial or residential comfort aspects (nevertheless, the hospitality of Alex, my good friend and old comrade in African adventures, who sheltered me in his house in New Riga[2] was very much helpful indeed). If the city is «yours,» you will enjoy it even without money, and even spending the night at the train station will not spoil the impression. Well, as long as it doesn’t become a habit. I know from experience, since during my first visit to the beautiful city of Rome I was forced, by an incident, to spend three days on a budget of one hundred euros, prudently hidden away under the insole of my shoe at the beginning of the trip. 72 hours passed like a moment; I walked around the historic center almost around the clock. The only thing I was sorry about is that I could not enjoy the Italian cuisine, so I had to postpone it for some other time. On the other hand, I came to Dubai loaded with money, and still I spent the last two days in a hotel with a book. The city wasn’t “mine,” and that’s all.

So, in discussions on the diversity of the world and especially our perception of it, we got to the cottage village where Alex’s lair is located. Along the way, after the inevitable «Do you remember…» and «And those imbeciles got cheated again, they lost a million!» I told my friend about my plans to become a man with a gun for a little bit. To put it mildly, it somewhat surprised him, because he knew me before from the point of view which was articulated by my LiveJournal friend, the good writer and bad logician Jan Valetov (LiveJournal-bither): «You are a cynic, there is as much romance in you as in the statue of the Commander[3]—none the fuck at all. You always knew which side your bread was buttered on.» Alex, who knew me as a person of rather tortuous fate, entirely agreed with this (at that time still not pronounced) phrase.

“Well,” he tortured me while we were drinking beer after the delicious lunch prepared by his caring wife had already been eaten, “now, please, explain to me why?”

“Sometimes you just want to do something good and useful. I’m tired of talking about the unfairness of the universe…”

“No, well, I understand that, of course. But it’s war, you could get an additional hole in your forehead, you understand? You could also help in some other way—collect humanitarian aid, or fundraising, or something else…”

“And whom are you actually going to fight for?” his wife Olga tactfully inquired (she hadn’t met me in person before, but had some idea about my far-right views).[4]

“For the good guys, of course.”

“Um….”

“For the militia!” I smiled.

“Is there a possibility to become Borodai’s[5] assistant after half a year?” asked Alex, well knowing my cynical nature.

I soberly assessed my chances. “Unlikely. For that I would’ve had to come in March. There’s never enough goodies for everyone. However, we’ll see…”

The conversation lasted until two o’clock in the morning. I love to talk with smart people, that’s my weakness.

Perhaps we should talk about my motives in details, before you take me for a youngster with burning eyes and vacuum inside the skull, who watched too many movies. Where shall I begin… For starters, I am a person of far-right views. I am not one of those «neo-Nazi» clowns who wear that nice black uniform, make the “Sieg heil!” gesture and retweet the biographies of warriors of the Third Reich. They believe that all this will somehow help them to cling to the formidable fame of the dead great hope for the survival of the white race—so it’s just another cargo cult, like the Melanesian islanders making headphones from coconut halves and trying to bring back the glittering steel bird with rice and peanut butter… I am too rational for that. However, to me it’s obvious that seventy years ago they threw the baby out with the bathwater. What does it have to do with Ukraine? Well, I’m not going there to fight fascism. Because, in my opinion, despite what leftists and liberals say, it’s not there. It is your usual ethnic war, between the Russians and the Ukrainians. It has a distinctive feature that distinguishes it from a long line of such conflicts—the presence of an undecided majority in the territory disputed by two nations. That is the majority of the so-called «Russian-speaking Ukrainians,» often responding to the question of their ethnicity «I’m a Slav,”[6] and they are a major prize for both sides. The population, not the land (it will come with the people).

So for me, being a racist and a Russian patriot, the choice of side was obvious. Frankly, if the choice was between the white race vs. Russians—for example, take this purely hypothetical situation: the EU is hit by riots of immigrants, and as a reaction, far-right governments come to power, and are subjected to harassment by the international community, and under external and internal pressure they are increasingly radicalized. A few months pass and the United White Provinces of Europe appear, conducting internal politics in the spirit of the Germany in the mid-1930s. The Russian Federation launches an offensive on the west in order to «destroy the revived hydra of Nazism.” Well, to tell you the truth, in that case I would be shooting at the sunrise, not the sunset. But the race question has nothing to do with the current Russian-Ukrainian war (except for the unfortunate damage to the gene pool of both nations). In this connection, the enthusiastic support of some of my former fellow-thinkers in Ukraine under the pretext of the «struggle for the White Brotherhood» makes me fear for their mental health. Anyway, that’s enough rising into the ideological empyrean. Not that I am very obsessed with politics and the struggle for racial hygiene, but as a distant background of my life, they have their place. Riots in Russian regions that were caught up with the death of the Soviet Union under the occupation of different savages were quite predictable. However, I thought that the first would be northern Kazakhstan[7] after the departure of its perpetual President Nazarbaev to the Happy Hunting Ground (or, more likely, to hell). Well, looks like I didn’t quite call that one. However, I am sure that a war there is still in the cards. Long live the Republic of South Siberia![8] Or whatever it will be called…

The second group of reasons can be summarized as a normal man’s desire to test himself. Not that my life was poor at the plot twists, but I haven’t been to war before. Do not consider me an adrenaline junkie, please. No, I love to lie on the couch with a good book or to write an article for Wikipedia, or just walk down the street, going somewhere and eating something delicious there. Yes, I like to travel, and more than once I have gone to various places of interest; some of them weren’t completely safe, but, again, I always try to minimize the level of risk to a reasonable limit. For example, I take pleasure in climbing a volcano (a sleeping one!), rafting on a mountain river, or diving in a shark cage. A bunch of positive emotions and almost no risk if engaging in all of the above in a sober condition. But mountain biking, parasailing, or diving with the same sharks without a cage (there are fans of that, if you can believe it)—those things I will do only under the threat of being shot on the spot otherwise. Well, going to war is likely in the second category. But, which of us didn’t play war games as a child, and thus did not imagine himself with a real machine gun, mowing down the ranks of his enemies? If you never had such fantasies as a child—well, it’s a thing to think through, let’s put it that way. And now I have a chance to do it for real. And not just to fight, but for a just cause. Concerning the danger, well, it’s war, of course, but it’s not something like Verdun,[9] where for advancing 1,000 meters they paid with 10,000 lives; it’s a guerrilla war. Images of liberated cities, burning Ukrainian columns, and other fragments from the «Toyota-wars» in the South Russian landscape were flashing through my mind. I almost never watch TV, but still, presumably, the overall increase in mental debilitation of the noosphere has influenced me also.

I will not prevaricate; there were mercantile considerations. I’m not a young man anymore, over thirty, and not an idiot or a bum, but so far I do not have a house, or a big sum on my account, or family, or even a constant and measured life. And I do love rhythmic, cozy well-being. I can only wonder why my desire for it regularly brings me to places where a year of life can safely count for three. Well, I am not poverty-stricken, and I always have some money for a tasty meal and a ride on the globe at my pleasure (the latter not always, but more often than not), but that’s all. And now, if the Rebellion is successful, there is a prospect of a building a new country from scratch. A whole new government is needed. I’m realistic enough to not rely on the post of finance minister—only well-connected men can get appointed to such posts, that’s understandable—but in terms of the inevitable personnel shortage, something quite tempting could turn up. Especially because I have a quite decent amount of experience in organizing something from scratch. It’s not like I had high hopes, but you never know…

In the morning (hell, I knew it wasn’t a good idea to drink wine and cognac together), Alex gave me a ride to Moscow on his way to work. He dropped me at Three Station Square.[10] Because my healthy suspicion of the beloved state had not left me, I took a ticket not to Rostov-on-Don but to Voronezh[11] instead. Another way to cover my tracks, let’s hope it’ll work.

From my somewhat ironic manner of narrative you might get the impression that I am completely harebrained and shooting from the hip, having no idea what is waiting for me to come, and how I will get to the coveted Slavyansk, and what I will be doing. Well, that’s not true. I am a very methodical and organized person. After deciding in early May to go to Slavyansk, I devoured a bunch of literature on the wars in Yugoslavia, Chechnya and Transnistria.[12] I refreshed my memory in performance characteristics and procedure for assembly/disassembly/shooting of the most common types of guns and grenade launchers, and skimmed everything that could be useful about heavy machinery (mainly how to fight it). I read carefully the reviews of those who had already arrived in Donbass[13] and those who couldn’t make it for various reasons. In particular, I exchanged e-mails with Alexander Zhuchkovsky,[14] who at that time was fighting in Slavyansk, and then talked with him on a burner[15] bought for this particular purpose from illegals from Kyrgyzstan[16] (or some other armpit of the Universe, nobody cares). Therefore, by the time I purchased the ticket, I already had the number that I should call on arrival in Rostov. It was obvious that there was a possibility that all of this was done under the surveillance of the FSB, but I didn’t see another option.

From the train station I slowly walked to Red Square (who knows if I’ll happen to visit it again), and from there, on foot too, went to the Metropolis shopping center, my favorite of its kind in Moscow since those distant days when I lived near it. Is it far? Well, it is. But I like walking.

In the evening we gathered around the fireplace in Alex and Olga’s house. Wine, small talk, their gentle attempts to dissuade me from going. Then a good night’s sleep, and I’m on the road again.

[1] An ironic nickname for Moscow, referring to the enormous quantities  of immigrants coming into the city (meaning Moscow isn’t made from rubber and cannot stretch endlessly)

[2] An upper-middle class suburb of Moscow

[3]A character from Tirso de Molina’s play “The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest” (1616)

[4] There were a dozen Russian far-right activists who fought for Ukraine, justifying this by saying that Putin’s regime is a bigger danger for the Russian nation than Ukraine. Putin’s propaganda, along with liberals and leftists, tried to use them to discredit all nationalists, «white separatists» and concervatives, despite the fact that thousands of them took part in the Russian Spring against Ukraine

[5] Alexander Borodai was at that time the Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic

[6] Slavs are the largest ethno-linguistic group in Europe. They include Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Serbs, Czechs and some other nations.

[7] Kazakhstan is a big but sparsely populated post-Soviet country in Central Asia

[8] The territory of today’s Kazakhstan was colonized by the Russians in the 18th and 19th centuries. Before that it was a Muslim analog of the Great Plains before the colonization by the Americans. By the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians were about 2/3 of the population there. However, according to Soviet doctrine, most of the high posts in the government, the law enforcement, and the economy were occupied by Kazakhs. Taking advantage of this, immediately after its independence, the Kazakh authorities launched a campaign to suppress the Russian majority. As a result, to date, about half of the Russians were forced to flee from Kazakhstan and the rest turned into second-class citizens. There is a movement in the territories with a Russian majority for the creation of an independent Russian state (or for the accession of these territories to Russia, as in the example of Crimea)

[9] The Battle of Verdun (1916) was one of the biggest battles of the First World War on the Western Front between the German and French armies. Despite more than 300,000 deaths on both sides, the front line remained almost unchanged

[10] There are three ornate railroad stations situated at this square: Leningradsky, Yaroslavsky, and Kazansky

[11] Voronezh is a city about 570 kilometers northeast of Rostov-on-Don

[12] Transnistria is a partially recognized state that got its independence (from post-Soviet Moldavia) during a war in 1992. Due to its mixed Russian-Ukrainian population the Russian and Ukrainian militias were fighting together against the Moldavian Army and Romanian volunteers

[13] Donbass is a historical, cultural, and economic region in eastern Ukraine. It is a heavily industrialized territory and an important coal mining area since the late 19th century. Due to the strong Russian majority Donbass became a core territory of the Russian Spring in Ukraine in 2014

[14] Alexander Zhuchkovsky is one of the first and most famous Russian volunteers of the Donbass war

[15] Slang: an untraceable prepaid mobile phone

[16] Kyrgyzstan is a small and very poor post-Soviet country in the mountains of Central Asia. It’s famous for having three revolutions and two bloody ethnic conflicts since it got independence in 1991, and being democratic (as far as is possible in a poor Muslim country) despite all of that

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