«I think the [Soviet] empire has not yet passed away. My personal feeling is that it will not pass away without bloodshed. There will be a war in Ukraine, it’s beyond doubt. And the cease-fire they have agreed upon in Minsk will not last for long,» said 66-year-old Svetlana Alexievich during a meeting with her readers. «From what I was told by people in Russia, I’ve got a feeling that there may be a civil war in Russia too».
Svetlana Alexievich, who is widely believed to be Belarus’s most prospective candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, is internationally known for her books chronicling the behavior of Soviet and post-Soviet people before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The books include «Voices from Chernobyl», a collection of oral accounts of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, and «Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War». Her last book, the critically acclaimed «Second-Hand Time», received the much-coveted Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2013.
«I’ve came back from Moscow lately, very distressed. They seem to have sensible intellectuals and writers there — but where does all that nationalistic poison, all that hatred against Europe, all that hatred against the past come from? It’s terrifying,» mused Svetlana Alexievich aloud before the Minsk audience.
Alexievich was born in Stanislav (nowadays Ivano-Frankivsk) in Ukraine to a Belarusian father and a Ukrainian mother who moved to Belarus when she was a child. Because of political motives she left Belarus in 2000 and lived for a decade in Paris, Gothenburg and Berlin. She returned to Minsk in 2011.
Asked whether such a surge of hatred against Europe, as seen in Russia, may happen in Belarus, Alexievich said it is unlikely.
«We live next to Europe, we are a patriarchal country, and Christian values do play a positive role here. We’re a different world,» she stressed.