"Russia is a drunkard who pretends to be something." Oleksiii Sukhanov about "good Russians" and relatives he doesn't want to know
Oleksiy Sukhanov, a well-known TV presenter and author of the social project "The Whole Country Speaks" on 1+1 Ukraine, was born and raised in Russia, made a successful career there (he was once among the ten most popular TV presenters), but now prefers not to mention his former homeland. The journalist claims that "good Russians" do not exist, and also calls for a legislative ban on everything Russian in the country.
He spoke about this in an interview with OBOZ.UA. Sukhanov admitted why he refuses to communicate with his family in Russia and shared what he did with his Russian passport after receiving a Ukrainian one.
- Alexey, how are you living now?
- The same as for all of us. No worse - some people, unfortunately, have more grief. But no better, because how can you live in peace now? I tell myself that I cannot complain and cry. Because we live in warm apartments, work in tidy offices, and our guys, those who are at the front, live in completely different conditions. How can we complain? It's inappropriate and even cynical.
- You mentioned tears. When was the last time you gave yourself a break?
- Sometimes I cry every day, and I won't hide it. When I'm driving, a wave comes over me. And on the set of The Whole Country Speaks. And just when I scroll through my social media feed. These are the times now. But the main thing is not just to cry, but to draw conclusions and try to change what you are upset about on your own level.
We need to put an end to everything Russian in Ukraine. And until the Ukrainian society recovers, it should be banned. Our body is extremely weakened and exhausted. We have to quarantine ourselves, isolate ourselves from the toxic, and the fact that Russian is exactly that has been proven for centuries. Much has been written about how Russia destroyed Ukraine, society, culture, everything. But for some reason we forget about it, and everything goes in a circle. It seems to me that it's time to get rid of the Dory fish syndrome. As she swims from one side to the other, she forgets everything. Every time she discovers the world, she is surprised. It may be very convenient to live this way, but it's stupid. Not life, but existence. You have to turn on your brain.
I'm generally in favor of banning Russian at the level of current legislation. Until we raise a generation of Ukrainians who are imbued with the Ukrainian code, culture, history, and consciousness. Until then, we cannot touch this fucking Russian culture. Moreover, even when we recover, we should devote no more time to Russian than to studying, for example, other cultures. Listen, is Ibsen inferior to Dostoevsky? What kind of nonsense is that? Western culture works, we can see this from the high consciousness of their citizens, and in the crowd of Russian nonsense, the situation is completely different.
- In a recent interview with our publication, opera star Lyudmila Monastyrskaya also spoke of Russian culture in a similar way to yours, and also listed Ukrainian geniuses among composers whose names are unfamiliar to the general public.
- Because they were trampled on, crushed...
- Do "good Russians" exist? Maxim Galkin, for example, who publicly supported Ukraine and other artists who left. Oppositionists like Alexei Navalny and others.
- I am against this category of "good Russians". They can go out of their way to say that they are for Ukraine, bring tons of aid here - we should be grateful to them, but they are outsiders. We need to keep this in mind: no matter how much good the Russians have done for Ukraine, they are strangers to the country. Because they did not get rid of their Russian passports. They may be against the war, but they are not against what is happening in Russia. And secondly, none of them has proved anything so far that they are able to defend anything. All they do is talk. We cannot look up to them under any circumstances. We need to realize that we can only trust ourselves. There is no better friend of Ukraine in the world than a conscious Ukrainian.
- How do you feel about those who continue to live in Russia with Ukrainian passports? For example, the actress Tonya Paperna, the daughter of our people's artists Yevhen Papernyi and Olha Sumska?
- I have a bad attitude towards this. But I also keep one thing in mind: everyone chooses their own path. I chose it in 2014, made up my mind. And I have not regretted it for a single minute. I can't travel the world, I live like everyone else, under anxiety, mentally exhausted, but I know that we are on the side of good here. Because we did not seize anyone else's property, we did not threaten anyone. We have an undeniable right to self-determination: how to live and where to go. And we do not have to coordinate this with a country that has never brought anything to a successful conclusion in its entire history. Who is Russia? It's a crowd that blows every historical opportunity. Well, give me an example when Russia took advantage of a chance and did something for the better in its development. There is no such period. So who should we look up to? Russia is a drunkard who is still pretending to be something.
As for the Ukrainians who live there... I don't know how Olia Sumska lives with this. But her daughter is an adult, she has to take responsibility for her actions. They say that children are not responsible for their parents. It seems to me that parents are responsible for their children, too. As a social presenter, I can give you many examples when you invest in a child but get the opposite result. It does happen. I do not condemn Olia and do not blame her for what happened to her daughter.
However, we must not forget about those who are now silent. Because it is possible that after the war, many will return and begin to portray patriotism. From the series that once they put on an embroidered shirt, they are already ours. The war proved that having an embroidered shirt in your closet does not mean that you are loyal to Ukraine. I know people who wore it every day, but were the first to be abroad after the invasion. And those who did not have it and are now here.
- Who among the famous people has unpleasantly surprised you in the context of what you are telling us?
- I'm going to be extremely careful here, and here's why: this kind of talk, I think, works to undermine the country. And Russian propaganda plays a big role in this, picking up on the quarrels, aiming to divide us, to quarrel with us. We must, on the contrary, demonstrate unity. Despite the fact that there are many irritating factors around us - corruption and other things that are far from pleasing. This should not be silenced, but we must be focused on fulfilling our functions - working hard, doing our job honestly. All changes start with each of us. Not with a neighbor, friend or colleague. They say, let them change, and I will catch up. No.
- After the closure of Ukraina shopping mall, you were invited to another top TV channel, 1+1 Ukraine, and since February you have been hosting the program "The Whole Country Speaks". How do you find the work?
- My attitude to work will be seen when I leave. It will mean that I am tired. Because you either dissolve in this work or you don't work - that's the only way. From time to time, I hear people say that maybe this kind of TV program is not the right time. But I insist that this is exactly the right time. The war makes us change. And without such programs it is impossible. As for the accusations that we are shaming Ukrainians (this kind of criticism is also sometimes heard), I would advise you to look in the mirror. There is a wrinkle here and there - what to do? We apply a medical cream. And it's the same here: by recognizing that there is a problem, we are on the path to healing. I have seen a lot of this in Russia, where they built so-called " Dark villages" to create the illusion that everything is beautiful. We don't need this: let's honestly look at what we are and change. And if there are still enough stories for our program, it means that the changes are not going the way we would like.
- Another project of yours is the YouTube channel "Sukhanov Speaks " - programs about famous Ukrainians. How does it differ from what you do on TV?
- It's the same thing I do on TV, talking to people. I don't like social life. I think it's a bunch of two-assed representatives of the human world, because there are a lot of lies there, I can't stand it, I don't feel comfortable there. In our programs, we talk about something else, which is why I would not like to invite everyone to my show. Everyone who appears on Sukhanov Speaks is interesting. It's not about secular life. It's about meaning and values.
- What keeps you going in this difficult life? I know that you like to reboot by creating your own space - walking the same street after the show, a coffee shop you always visit, and a collection of teapots at home.
- I believe that salvation in this world lies only in building your own world. And it should contain only your people. Now I've moved away from teapots and walks a bit, because a lot has changed in my life. But I am inspired by one thing, and this is not just another saying, believe me, but a very effective life hack: if you do a good deed at least once a day, it keeps you going. One day you will die, and what will you leave behind? In a year, two years, five years, someone will remember you, but mostly they will forget you. We are such small grains of sand in the universe. So we need to leave something energetic behind. By giving advice, saving someone from something bad, planting trees, raising children, rescuing a kitten, getting a puppy. This is the meaning of our appearance in this world.
- In early January, you will turn 50 years old. Have you thought about how this day will go?
- I don't like my birthday. I never have. But I adore the New Year - it's the only holiday I've been waiting for since childhood. I especially love the preparations for it. January 1 is not the same. The main holiday is over, and all the efforts of adults to prolong it are artificial. I didn't like it, so I locked myself in my room. And I was there alone. Now Christmas will be on December 25 - I like it too. And since I hate everything Soviet, I have been celebrating Christmas in the Catholic way for a long time.
- Before, you probably celebrated it more often in your apartment in Latvia.
- Of course! There is an incredible fairy-tale atmosphere there these days. Now the apartment is being taken care of. I have flowers growing there. I receive photos. I won't say who is helping me, but it's a very cool person whom I trust. I myself was in my apartment about a year ago when I was on a business trip. Before, when I came to Jurmala, I missed Kyiv a lot. And when I came back, I missed Jurmala. But now I don't know how it will be, because a lot of Russians have come there. And I don't want to hear or see them. For me, they are just disgusting representatives of the human world. I remember a long time ago, even before the war, when there was a line at the Riga airport for a flight to Moscow, and I was avoiding it like the dickens. I couldn't bring myself to walk alongside it. I don't want to go back there - neither in my mind nor physically. For me, this country no longer exists.
- You have not been in touch with your parents and other relatives living in Russia for a long time. Maybe something has changed now?
- Now - no, not at all. I don't want to. Sometimes people write to me, saying, how can you abandon your family, your country. Or they say something else: if you are a traitor to Russia, you will betray Ukraine. I want to tell such people that you don't understand anything about me if you say such things...
I don't believe in any possibility of the so-called Russia flourishing. I do not believe that this country can ever become civilized. I do not believe in the effective power of Russian culture. I do not divide the representatives of this country into good and bad. For me, they are either opportunists or impotent - let them choose, there is no third option. I do not want to communicate with those who live there, whether they are relatives or just acquaintances. I have no one and nothing there. Except for two people - my grandparents. But they are already in another world, and I am honest with them. I think they are proud of me. I think about them every day - they are the only people I miss.
- What is the fate of your Russian passport after you got your Ukrainian one?
- The Russian one expired in May. But it's still here for now. I keep it because I need it to re-issue the documents for my Latvian apartment. I bought it with this passport. When I go through all this paperwork, I'll throw it away at the office. What do I need it for? For me, a Ukrainian passport is a legal right to become a part of people with a capital letter. The Ukrainian spirit is what I admire.
- Your Ukrainian is wonderful. When did you realize that it was already at a good level?
- When I had a dream in Ukrainian. I woke up one day and realized that everything in my head was broadcast in Ukrainian. I will never forget those feelings. I don't take Ukrainian lessons anymore, as I used to, I improve my language through communication and books.
- How do you feel about Ukrainians who speak their native language in public but use Russian in everyday life? I recently observed this with your colleagues at an event - they were lively in Russian.
- This is a difficult question because I have friends like that. They care about Ukraine, they donate and help. I have never met more patriots of Ukraine. For example, one friend was born in Berdiansk and speaks Russian. But she would give her soul and head for Ukraine. How can I condemn her? She is one hundred percent Ukrainian.
The Ukrainian language should be the only state language, and this is not up for discussion. Everyone who has a Ukrainian passport must know the language. We have to promote Ukrainian - this is also not discussed. But the language will enter everyone without force and offense when a person sees social and legal protection and guarantees of their rights. Let's take the example of America. Why did half the world come there? Because rights are guaranteed there. If we have a strong economy and social policy, if people know that the laws protect them, you will see that in a year we will push Russia not even to second place, but to the very backyard. This is what we need to focus on.
Ukrainians are a protesting people, they don't tolerate being imposed on, and we must also take this into account. These are my thoughts. But please, dear ones, learn Ukrainian, because there is no country without its own language, history, and traditions. Don't pay attention to the fact that someone is mocking - it's all manipulation, an attempt to divide. And you should learn it, because it is incredible. And without it, there will be no Ukraine.
Also, read on OBOZ.UA an interview with actor Dmytro Sova, who serves in the Armed Forces of Ukraine: about his place of service, two weeks of living in the basement, and topics that his famous wife avoids.