Through pain and collapses, Russia heads to new life – opera Diva
Russian soprano and internationally renowned opera singer Lyuba Kazarnovskaya has shared with RT her thoughts on politics and politicians, changes she would like to see, and her hopes for the future of the country.
RT: How interested are you in politics? They say that in Russia if you are not turned on to politics, politics will turn on you. What role politics play on your life?
Lyuba Kazarnovskaya: Well, politics is something that is happening around you. Whether you want it or not, politics gets into you. I mean rules of life that it sets and principles. I try not to get involved in it, since this sphere is too delicate for me and I do not quite get all those tricks. However, I interact with different levels of society, so it is impossible to be completely apolitical. So I do watch [the news] and fish for things I understand and find interesting.
RT: Why do you watch the news? Is it like a theater for you or, as a Russian citizen, do you feel responsibility and believe you should understand what is happening?
LK: Both. Though, today our political life looks more like a theatre…
You know what I think is a positive moment today? Despite the talk about the freedom of speech problem, we can still hear voices saying that it is time we changed our life, and the changes should be radical.
The corruption mess … which surrounds us bothers everyone, does not let us breathe. That is something cultural workers, medics, educational workers, and others feel. Each positive decision gets stuck because of the disgusting, immovable corruption machine. That is something that – without a doubt – must be changed. And I think it is understood by everyone from bottom to top level – throughout the vertical [of power]. I believe steps will be taken to sort it out.
We live in a time of changes: something changes every day… I cannot say that all changes are positive or that all of them are negative – they are different and they exist…Therefore it is important to listen to [Liberal Democratic Party leader] Zhirinovsky’s speeches, to [Communist Party leader] Zyuganov, and, also to presidential and the premier’s addresses, because this way you can get an idea of the whole society and realize what is going on. I am interested in it as a citizen. Also, I can see that through pain and complications my country has started changing.
RT: The last years of the USSR were the Era of Stagnation. Then Mikhail Gorbachev, and later Boris Yeltsin, came to power and brought dramatic changes to the life of the country. It is believed the main achievement of Vladimir Putin’s presidency was stability. Now President Medvedev says “Go, Russia!” and calls for modernization. Do you prefer stability or do you think it is a time of changes?
LK: I choose changes. I think that stability – as it is seen by society – is not only the fact that some moments of social life, like terrorism, have calmed down. Thanks to hugely expensive oil and Russian resources, some people can breathe again. Others, however, can still hardly make ends meet.
So despite the stability, social stratification has been catastrophic. Yes, there is a small part of the society who has stability – they do not have to think how to spend money and where to go on holidays. But the major part of society has to think about all that. Thus, there is no stability.
I believe Medvedev’s slogan [“Go, Russia!”] is meant to give to 70-80 per cent of society an opportunity to show initiatives. Changes will mean that they will change both their attitudes and life principles. And then there will be stability for them as well.
RT: What political events of last twelve months do you remember?
LK: That was not in our country. But I was shocked that America elected Obama… On the one hand, the US showed that an Afro-American – whose ancestors were slaves and the poor from African countries – can become a leader of such a country. He can reconcile two worlds – the Muslim world and the world of Christians. That is very important. And that US decision [had an impact on others].
I believe that if our calls for changes and initiatives, improvements within people are fulfilled, Russia will be most valued. Our people are very talented, unbelievably active, and creative. They are not sleepy like in the US and Europe… Our people always burn and boil. They have lively brains and they should be given opportunity to [make their country better].
If Medvedev managed to show political will and change people’s thinking and if he supported the talented and active who will glorify our country – and make it back into the cultural lungs of the planet that it used to be – I believe it would be very important.
Maybe not everyone has realized it yet, but Russia’s main quality is its culture and traditions. And that is something that should be [supported] instead of that cheap stuff that is now everywhere on TV: that pro-American jive, primitive music, disgusting pop stars who everyone is fed up with. Give us an alternative! Show that Russia is not all about that. When those sprouts of culture start growing and getting green, people will get hope, joy, faith and belief that changes are coming.
Another important thing is to make a person – even a small person – believe that he or she is needed, his labor is important for the country, and that his is a part of a big chain. Instead, we have people who determine everything and people who – no matter what they do – remain [no one]. If all these people start to understand that the future of the country, their children and grandchildren depends on them, we will have order in the country.
RT: Who of the politicians – if any – do you sympathize with?
LK: I really sympathize with young [Vladimir] Ryzhkov. Though, I must say that in general, despite having enormous plans, the young democrats didn’t manage to do much. They do have good brains. I respect greatly Irina Khakamada [presidential candidate in 2004, member of The Other Russia coalition]. I believe she could have done a lot more in the country. However, I cannot say that I have big respect for the young democrats’ actions. No. But there are good heads among them. And they would be of great demand since they are young, sober, and aggressive enough and they know how to listen and talk to people – unlike callous bureaucrats…
RT: And what about Western politics?
LK: I really like Obama and Angela Merkel. She speaks little. But [it is about] what she promises to the nation and the way she talks to her people. I work in Germany a lot so I can watch her quite often. She does what she says. She is not a loudmouth. As a person connected to culture, I was shocked when I discovered that she attends each new opera production in Germany… She always knows who sings and where. She knows what is happening in literature, cinema, medicine. She is actively engaged into this life… She knows the situation in her country… I take my hat off to her.
RT: What is more important for a politician – the public image or ideology?
LK: Of course, it is ideology. If the ideology is proper, the public image will be as well. If it is the public image that a politician works on first of all, he turns into a pop star…If he has an ideology, a public stance – the public image appears like a spiral, builds up with little segments, but it is really interesting.
RT: You have traveled a lot. What country from the point of political structure do you like most?
LK: If we speak about well-being, I would say Germany is one of the most problem-free countries, especially Bavaria…Also, they know that they have guarantees of stability. They know they are ensured [they have guarantees] as a political system, healthcare system, their children’s future and education. They know that they will get pensions, and no one will kick them out to the street. So, for me Bavaria – in all senses – is one of the happiest places on Earth.
However, I can only feel at home when I am here [in Russia]… I adore my country.
RT: You have just said about Germany. I can’t help asking: do you feel it’s wrong that we, the winners in WWII, live as we live. And Germans live a lot better?
LK: Of course, I do. You know, my husband is Austrian. When I come to small and successful Austria I realize that the worst villain of all times – Hitler –came from there. And look how this country lives now: how protected and successful they are. And we, the winning-country? My father is a WWII veteran who went all the way from Moscow to Berlin. I sometimes look at him and think to myself: my dear Dad, if you were an Austrian or German veteran, you would live in completely different conditions. You see, there is a bit of pain inside.
On the other hand, I must tell you that Russia – through this painful collapse it got into and keeps living in – is heading to a completely new kind of life. I am more than sure of that.
As an artistic person, I think about the Russian Music Society headed by the Rubenstein brothers. Its school council was headed by the Emperor. The appearance of such names as [composer Pyotr] Tchaikovsky, [Alexander] Taneyev, [Sergey] Rachmaninov, [Fyodor] Chaliapin, etc became possible because the Emperor invested his own money into society. He said it was for the development of Russian culture and spirituality. This should be our main rule. I want people to hear me and to understand that it is not words only, not soap foam. Unless we organize our souls properly, nothing will [progress].
The essential thing is that people should believe. Faith, soul and culture – that is the key to Russia which will be able to lead the way for Germany, and Italy, and Spain, and America.
RT: Since it is the beginning of the year, what would you wish to Russian policy in 2010? What do you think it lacks now?
LK: I feel really sorry when I see our politicians helpless and having no idea what to tell the nation. They do get on well with each other…but it is just a game. [It is important that] together with the game – and politics cannot do without it – there will be sincerity, a feeling that the authorities speak the same language with the nation and can listen to each other. We should realize that we are the same nation and there should be a dialogue between the authorities and the people. If this happens, politicians will be respected and stop being funny and people will be willing to follow them.